Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Tuesday October 29 Ag News

Good to be a Pig Farme
By Al Juhnke, NPPA Executive Director

As another October “Pork Month” ends, some observations about Nebraska’s pig farmers are in order. We often get caught up in the challenges our state’s agriculture community faces and fail to look at the positives. Let’s take a moment to examine the plus side of the ledger.

      The Nebraska Pork Producers Association (NPPA) has been around since 1961. The organization is alive and healthy. They have a great group of directors and officers leading the way. The board is diverse in production size representation, age of its members, and in gender. The guidance and vision they provide keeps our grower’s Pork Checkoff dollars working for the benefit of all. NPPA is fortunate to have such a good group in place for the benefit of its members.

      The staff at the NPPA office in Lincoln are a truly dedicated group of people. They come to work every day focused on their mission of serving Nebraska’s pork industry. They take their roles in the organization seriously and understand they are making a difference. Also know that this team enjoys what they do. And if you like what you are doing, it isn’t really a job at all, is it?

      Finally, let’s look at the most important group of people involved with the pork industry, the farmers and families that raise our animals. Because of their efforts, Nebraska has more pigs in our barns since the mid-1980’s. The diversification of our farms with the addition of livestock facilities is adding value to our locally grown crops and income to the farm family’s bottom line.

      Our farmers are producing a sustainable, safe, and healthy food product to not only help supply our dinner tables here at home, but also ship over twenty-five percent of what they grow to other countries helping feed the world. They take great satisfaction in what they do and the role they play in the food chain.

      These farmers are our neighbors, our friends, and an integral part of our rural communities. They are good stewards of the land and care deeply about what they do. The positive economic impact to our local areas and the state by our pork producers cannot be understated. The taxes they pay helps take care of our roads, fund our schools, and support law enforcement and fire departments. Our farmers and their workers are proud to be part of our communities and would choose to live no other place.

      Overall, we would say it is a pretty good time to be a pig farmer in Nebraska. The positives far outweigh any negatives that may come along. Our farmers want everyone to know that like the generations that came before them, they love what they do and are going to be around doing it for a long time to come.

Grazing Cornstalks- Do you have a rental agreement?

Larry Howard, NE Extension Educator, Cuming County

Having a written agreement can help reduce miscommunication and frustration down the road.  This ensures a better understanding by both parties and serves as a reminder of the terms originally agreed upon.  It increases the likelihood that the relationship will continue in future years. When it comes to rental agreements for grazing corn residue, a number of questions need to be asked and answered up front to avoid disagreements later. UNL Dept. of Agricultural Economics staff have shared the following information.

1. What is the latest start date that residue will be available for grazing?
• Have a written start date with an agreed upon penalty if the corn is harvested late.
• Having this agreement in writing can keep both parties feeling okay about the outcome if weather or equipment issues delay harvest and availability of the residue.

2. What is the latest end date for removing cattle?
• A common frustration that corn farmers voice when renting out corn residue for grazing is that the cattle are not removed in a timely fashion.
• Have a written removal date with an agreed upon penalty if cattle remain longer can keep both parties feeling okay about the outcome even if an unexpected event (such as a snow storm) keeps cattle on the land longer than planned.
• Who is responsible for gathering and removal of the cattle?

3. How will the appropriate stocking rate be determined and how will grazing be priced?
• Using the corn stalk grazing calculator (http://go.unl.edu/wgm9) to determine stocking rates is a good way to ensure proper stocking rates are utilized. It is important to utilize proper stocking rates to ensure cattle have access to adequate amounts of leaf and husk and that performance is maintained.
• Get your pricing right- by the acre OR by the head.
-Priced on a per acre basis. This type of arrangement is simple to administer but can have negative consequences if the start date, end date, stocking rate and adverse weather policy is not specifically spelled out. Without these items being outlined the crop producer can be exposed to the risk of over grazing and the cattle owner could be exposed to the risk of paying for something he/she can’t use if adverse weather prevents grazing.
-Priced on a per head per day or AUM basis. With this method the cattle owner only pays for actual use. Again the start date, end date, and stocking rate need to be laid out. The duration of grazing is important for the cattle producer when calculating transportation costs into the cost of feeding the cow. The crop producer is accepting the financial risk that the grazing resource may not produce the income they anticipated if the cattle are removed early.
-The plan for heavy snow or ice needs to be included in the pricing agreement, including the emergency feed source and who is responsible for providing it.
-The payment schedule and method should also be agreed upon.

4. Other things that should be outlined include:
• Is there a fence present? If not who is responsible for building the fence? Who is responsible for maintaining fences?
• Is there a reliable water source for the cattle? Who is responsible for providing water and maintaining water during grazing (including breaking ice)?
• Who is responsible for the daily care of the cattle? Inventory counts? Providing minerals and salt? Monitoring animal health? How will treating sick cattle be handled? Will the cattle be commingled with other cattle?
• Who is liable for the cattle getting out? Who is responsible for gathering the cattle if they get out?
• Is the cattle owner required to carry liability insurance for potential damage caused by the cattle? What, if any, indemnification responsibilities does the cattle owner have to the crop farmer for damage caused by the cattle?

This information is intended to provide a list of questions and issues to consider in drafting a lease agreement for grazing corn residue. Obtaining legal advice from a licensed attorney is encouraged in developing the actual agreement.

Aggies earn American FFA Degrees

Thirteen freshmen and sophomore students attending the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis will receive the highest honor in FFA this week.

American FFA Degrees will be awarded Saturday at 92nd National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.

The Aggie students who are studying agriculture education, animal science, diversified agriculture, agronomy, or veterinary technology at NCTA were active in their high school FFA chapters.

“We are very proud of the leadership and career paths these students have continued into their college programs here at NCTA in Curtis,” said Douglas Smith, Ph.D., associate professor of animal science and agricultural education.

The American Degree represents an FFA member’s commitment throughout their FFA career in their Supervised Agricultural Experiences, along with leadership and community involvement.

The students, majors, FFA chapters are:
·         Ethan Aschenbrenner, Scottsbluff FFA, agronomy
·         Tyler Aschenbrenner, Scottsbluff FFA, diversified agriculture
·         Colton Bell, York FFA, agronomy
·         Camryn Evans of DeWitt, Wilber-Clatonia FFA, vet technology
·         Audrey Heinz, Eaton, Colo., Eaton FFA, ag education
·         Emily Kammerer, Sutherland FFA, animal science
·         Jocelyn Kennicutt, Gothenburg FFA, animal science
·         John Lauer, Gothenburg FFA, animal science
·         Kayla Mues, Cambridge FFA, ag education
·         Nina Parry of Genoa, Twin River FFA, vet technology
·         Brittany Pellatz, Plainview FFA, vet technology
·         Aurora Urwiler of Laurel, Laurel-Concord-Coleridge FFA, ag education
·         Camden Wilke of Columbus, Lakeview FFA, animal science

Most of these students will be attending with their FFA chapters or family members to accept their degree although a representative can accept it on their behalf, said Smith, who also serves at the faculty advisor for the NCTA Collegiate FFA Chapter.

NCTA is one of few remaining colleges in the U.S. focusing solely on agriculture production, agribusiness, agricultural mechanics and veterinary technology programs. See ncta.unl.edu for details.

Pro-Ag Seminars to Examine Market Outlook, Trade Impacts, Financial Status of Iowa Agriculture

Before harvest comes to a close, producers, ag lenders and suppliers are already planning ahead for next year. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach economists will offer valuable insight on key factors impacting 2020 operating decisions at 13 Pro-Ag Outlook and Management Seminars to be held across the state in November and December.

Each three-hour seminar includes information on grain price outlook and global factors to watch, livestock prices and margins, as well as farmland operating margins, outlook and trends.

The focus of the program is to provide agribusiness leaders a concise evaluation of current market conditions, expected trends in crop and livestock income potential and management implications. Participants also will gain insight on implications of trade agreements on Iowa producers, and the critical role of land values and interest rates in the stabilization of the agricultural sector.

Speakers will vary by location but will include ISU Extension and Outreach state specialists Chad Hart, associate professor in economics and extension grain markets specialist; Alejandro Plastina, assistant professor and extension economist; Lee Schulz, assistant professor and livestock economist; and Wendong Zhang, assistant professor and extension economist. ISU Extension and Outreach field specialists will also be present at the meetings.

The program takes an in-depth look into the outlook for agriculture in 2020 and provides an opportunity to discuss the current Iowa economic situation with university experts.

Locations and dates
    Waterloo - Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 9 a.m., Hawkeye College, Tama Hall, Room 201, 319-234-6811.
    Sioux City - Monday, Nov. 11 at 9 a.m., Woodbury County Extension Office, 712-276-2157.
    Spirit Lake - Monday, Nov. 11 at 2:30 p.m., Dickinson County Extension Office, 712-336-3488.
    Fort Dodge* - Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 4 p.m., Webster County Extension Office, 515-576-2119.
    Carroll* - Thursday, Nov. 14 at 9:30 a.m., Carroll County Extension Office, 712-792-2364.
    Altoona* - Friday, Nov. 15 at 9 a.m., Polk County Extension Office, 515-957-5760.
    Mason City - Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 1 p.m., Muse-Norris Conference Center, NIACC Campus, 641-423-0844.
    Cresco - Friday, Nov. 22 at 9 a.m., Featherlite Center, Howard County Fairgrounds, 563-547-3001.
    Greenfield - Monday, Nov. 25, 1 p.m., Warren Cultural Center Auditorium, 641-743-8412.
    Shenandoah - Monday, Dec. 2, 1 p.m., Shenandoah Bricker Meeting Room, 712-542-5171.
    Iowa City* - Friday, Dec. 6 at 12:30 p.m., Johnson County Extension Office, 319-337-2145.
    Mt. Pleasant* - Friday, Dec. 13 at 7:30 a.m., Henry County Extension Office, 319-385-8126.
    Bloomfield* - Friday, Dec. 13 at 2 p.m., Pioneer Ridge Nature Area, 641-673-5841.
*Meal included; Altoona location includes lunch and Farm Income Tax webinar in the afternoon.

The sessions are open to the public, however, pre-registration is requested two days prior to the date of the event. Speakers, registration fees and provided meals vary by location. For locations, times and program information, contact the farm management field specialist in your area or visit www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/info/proag.html.

Apply by Nov. 1 to Serve on the National Pork Board

The Pork Checkoff's board of directors is accepting applications through Nov. 1 to fill five three-year terms. State pork producer associations, farm organizations or individuals who pay the Pork Checkoff, including pig farmers and pork importers, may submit an application.

"Serving on the National Pork Board is a great opportunity for producers to support the pork industry while helping to plan for a successful future," said Alcester, South Dakota, producer Steve Rommereim, who is the past National Pork Board president and chair of the Nominating Committee. "Not only have I been able to serve producers, I also have learned from so many in our pork industry."

During the National Pork Industry Forum, Pork Act Delegates must rank a minimum of 10 candidates to send to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue for approval. The board consists of 15 members, each serving a maximum of two three-year terms. The Pork Act requires that no fewer than 12 states be represented.

The 15 positions on the Checkoff board are held by pork producers or importers who volunteer their time. Any pork producer or importer who has paid all Checkoff assessments due or is a representative of a producer or company that produces hogs and/or pigs is eligible to serve.

The application deadline is Nov. 1, with interviews for each candidate held in Des Moines, Iowa, Dec. 10 and 11.

Siouxland Energy Testifies at House Hearing on EPA Demand Destruction

Growth Energy member and Siouxland Energy Cooperative President Kelly Nieuwenhuis testified today before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change during a hearing entitled, "Protecting the RFS: The Trump Administration's Abuse of Secret Waivers." Nieuwenhuis, who also is farmer near Primghar, Iowa, discussed the devastating impact of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) demand destruction on his biofuel plant and the surrounding community.

“Plain and simple: EPA’s abuse of small refinery exemptions under the RFS is crippling rural America,” said Nieuwenhuis in his testimony to lawmakers.

“Because of EPA’s actions to help the oil industry’s bottom line at the expense of farmers and biofuel producers, we had to make a hard decision – to idle our plant and shut off a key market for hundreds of local farmers, including myself,” added Nieuwenhuis. “The morning we announced we were idling our plant, I was tasked with delivering the bad news to our 40 employees. The team sat quietly, wondering about their future in the event we would have to permanently close our facility. This was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do.”

“The economic crisis created by the EPA’s abuse of SREs started 3 years ago. At first, we couldn’t put a finger on what it was, but the fundamentals in our market seemed off.  It was only after the press started reporting the rapid escalation of SREs being granted behind closed doors at the EPA that we began to understand what was happening to our business.”

Nieuwenhuis also gave his support for the legislation being considered by the subcommittee, H.R. 3006, the RFS Integrity Act of 2019.

“The regulatory attempts by the EPA give us little confidence that we will see the relief we need,” said Nieuwenhuis. “That’s why the agricultural and biofuels industries strongly support H.R. 3006, the RFS Integrity Act, sponsored by Representatives Collin Peterson and Dusty Johnson. This bill would address the EPA’s dismal record on SRE transparency. We have no idea of the specifics used by DOE or EPA in making SRE decisions, and this bill takes care of these basic transparency concerns by setting a reasonable deadline for SRE applications, and giving the public greater insight into this murky process.”

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor, who will testify Wednesday at the EPA’s public hearing on the new proposal, applauded Nieuwenhuis for sharing his story with lawmakers.

“Dozens of biofuel plants, just like Siouxland Energy, have been forced to idle production or close their doors in the past year due to the EPA’s abuse of refinery exemptions,” said Skor. “We need the real fix President Trump promised – not another round of regulatory games. The EPA plan must incorporate a projection of actual exempted gallons, not simply apply out-of-date recommendations. This may be our last chance to restore rural jobs and ease the burden facing American farmers.”

RFA: Refinery Waivers Undermine Renewable Fuels, Rural Economy and Government Transparency

The massive increase in small refinery exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard has eroded demand for ethanol and forced numerous plants to idle or shut down, according to testimony today by Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment & Climate Change. Cooper laid out numerous challenges facing the industry as a result of the Environmental Protection Agency’s abuse of the SRE program.

“EPA’s secretive and underhanded approach to the SRE provision in recent years has destabilized the RFS, reduced the production and use of clean renewable biofuels, increased GHG emissions and tailpipe pollution, and led to lost jobs and economic opportunity in rural America,” Cooper stated in his testimony.

Cooper also stressed the enormous value of ethanol plants to their local rural communities and detailed the harsh effects that closing a plant can have on small towns already facing other economic challenges.

“Ethanol plants serve as vital economic engines for rural communities across the country, providing good jobs, creating value-added investment opportunities for farmers and other rural Americans, and developing new markets for crops produced by local growers,” Cooper said. “We estimate that the ethanol demand loss associated with SREs has led to the layoff or furlough of more than 700 workers in the ethanol industry since the spring of 2018. In addition, more than 2,800 full-time jobs in related industries and sectors have also been affected.”

A recent supplemental proposal by EPA—meant to implement the relief package promised by President Trump in August—does little to allay concerns in farm country, Cooper said. EPA’s supplemental proposal has only led to more confusion and will not likely raise domestic conventional renewable fuels blending to the required volume of 15 billion gallons.

“The EPA incomprehensibly proposed to base its estimates of the gasoline and diesel that would be exempted in 2020 on the historical recommendations for exempted volumes it received from the Department of Energy, rather than the actual exemptions it granted,” Cooper said. “The irony of this proposal is that EPA has never followed DOE’s recommendations in deciding SRE petitions.”

For the 2016-2018 compliance years, he noted, DOE on average recommended that 7.3 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel be exempted from RFS obligations, but EPA actually exempted an average of 12.8 billion gallons–75% more. “In short, the supplemental proposal fails to provide the necessary assurances that the statutorily required volume of 15 billion gallons of conventional renewable fuel will actually be enforced in full in 2020 and beyond.”

Cooper ended his testimony stating RFA’s support for legislation introduced in the House of Representatives that would help reform the SRE program. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) together with Congressman Dusty Johnson (R-SD) and a bipartisan group of original co-sponsors have introduced H.R. 3006, the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act of 2019, which would bring badly needed transparency to the SRE process and provide renewable fuel producers and other stakeholders with greater certainty surrounding implementation of the RFS.

Oil Refinery Exemptions Cause a Crisis for the Biodiesel Industry

Today, World Energy Founder and CEO Gene Gebolys testified on behalf of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) at a hearing on "Protecting the RFS: The Trump Administration's Abuse of Secret Waivers" before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change. Gebolys told lawmakers that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has many options to make up for the demand destruction from past Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) waivers and prevent harm going forward. Small refinery exemptions have destroyed demand for hundreds of millions of gallons of biomass-based diesel. Nine biodiesel plants across the country have closed or cut production as a result, impacting hundreds of employees and thousands of jobs across the economy.

"When EPA finalizes its 2020 renewable fuel obligations rule by the end of this year, it must fully account for small refinery exemptions, or industry contraction and job losses will continue throughout the biofuels and broader agricultural economy," Gebolys wrote in submitted testimony. "Moreover, the agency must recognize and support the biodiesel industry's ability to grow under the RFS in 2020 and beyond, as Congress intended."

Gebolys is the founder and CEO of World Energy, which owns and operates five biodiesel plants and a renewable diesel refinery -- with total production capacity of over 200 million gallons -- and distribution hubs throughout the United States and Canada.

Gebolys testified that EPA could employ several different methods to properly account for small refinery exemptions in annual Renewable Fuel Standard rules.

"EPA should also move to prospectively grant or deny all small-refinery exemptions for a calendar year before issuing the final RVO rule for that year," he wrote in formal testimony. "This practice would allow all actual exemptions to be accounted for in EPA's existing formula for calculating percentage standards and would enhance transparency for all market participants. EPA can and should require refiners to apply for exemptions with sufficient time to allow EPA to reach a decision by the November 30 statutory deadline each year."

NBB and its members support H.R. 3006, which would direct EPA to set an annual deadline for hardship petitions, as well as other legislative efforts to direct EPA to properly account for small refinery exemptions.

ACE shares technical ethanol information with prospective retailers in developing ethanol market just south of the border

Last week, American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty returned to Mexico to speak at the first technical ethanol information forum to be held in Juárez, Mexico, near El Paso, Texas. These forums are a joint effort of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the Mexican Association of Service Station Suppliers (AMPES) to inform Mexican petroleum marketers about opportunities in sourcing, marketing, and retailing ethanol-blended gasoline. Lamberty attended four other workshops this year, including one in Tijuana, another border city minutes from San Diego’s fuel terminal. Juárez marks Lamberty’s twelfth USGC/AMPES workshop.

“Like Tijuana, Juárez is one of the top destinations for U.S. ethanol in the short-run because El Paso and Juárez are basically one large metropolitan area, divided into two different countries by the Rio Grande,” Lamberty said. “El Paso has a two-billion-gallon refinery and Kinder-Morgan and Magellan fuel terminals already supply stations in Juárez and other cities in the state of Chihuahua. Ethanol is already in those terminals, and some E10 has already been purchased and delivered to stations in the area.”

In August, Lamberty moderated a panel with USGC’s team in Mexico, and he joined a panel at the Argus Mexico Fuel Markets Summit in Mexico City to discuss the role the U.S. can play in Mexico’s fuel market. As the Mexican government deregulates the petroleum market, retailers are expressing interest in incorporating ethanol blends. Now even Pemex, Mexico's state-owned oil company, has indicated it may be interested in blending ethanol with gasoline.

“Last month, Pemex’s proposed budget for 2020 included $50 million toward reconfiguring terminals to handle ethanol,” Lamberty said. “The original project, which Pemex stopped in 2008, called for 5.8 percent ethanol in Magna (regular) gasoline, and if the same timeline is used, Pemex could be buying 50 million gallons of ethanol a month sometime late next year. Although nothing is certain, this is encouraging news and the USGC team in Mexico is doing a great job helping Mexican “gasolineros” understand adding ethanol is a way for them to make more money while offering customers a cleaner, higher octane fuel at a lower price.”

Lamberty said it’s likely some of Pemex’s large customers are pressing them on ethanol. “When ACE, IRFA and USGC brought some key Mexican fuel marketers to Iowa to give them an up-close look at how easily ethanol can be incorporated into the fuel supply, they wanted to go back and find a way to add ethanol to their fuel slate,” Lamberty said. “Most of those companies buy their fuel from Pemex and Pemex still supplies probably 90 percent of the stations in the country. But, they’re not the only game in town anymore. If their customers ask for ethanol, Pemex will have to find a way to get it to them, and there are plenty of people who can help them add ethanol to Mexico’s gasoline.” 

USDA Establishes Domestic Hemp Production Program

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the establishment of the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program. This program, as required by the 2018 Farm Bill, creates a consistent regulatory framework around hemp production throughout the United States.

“At USDA, we are always excited when there are new economic opportunities for our farmers, and we hope the ability to grow hemp will pave the way for new products and markets,” said Secretary Perdue. “We have had teams operating with all hands-on-deck to develop a regulatory framework that meets Congressional intent while seeking to provide a fair, consistent, and science-based process for states, tribes, and individual producers who want to participate in this program.”


Later this week, an interim final rule formalizing the program will be published in the Federal Register that will allow hemp to be grown under federally-approved plans and make hemp producers eligible for a number of agricultural programs. The rule includes provisions for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to approve hemp production plans developed by states and Indian tribes including: requirements for maintaining information on the land where hemp is produced; testing the levels of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol; disposing of plants not meeting necessary requirements; and licensing requirements. It also establishes a federal plan for hemp producers in states or territories of Indian tribes that do not have their own approved hemp production plan.

The interim final rule becomes effective upon publication in the Federal Register. Following publication, USDA invites public comment on the interim rule and the information collection burden. A preview of the rule is posted on USDA’s website.

USDA also developed guidelines for sampling and testing procedures that are being issued concurrently with this rule. These documents provide additional information for sampling agents and hemp testing laboratories.

More information about the provisions of the interim final rule is available on the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program web page on the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) website.

Once state and tribal plans are in place, hemp producers will be eligible for a number of USDA programs, including insurance coverage through Whole-Farm Revenue Protection. For information on available programs, visit farmers.gov/hemp.

Hemp Industry Progresses Thanks to USDA Rule

The Agriculture Department’s hemp program announced Tuesday allows the sector to move forward, according to the American Farm Bureau. Scott Bennett, congressional relations director at AFBF, explained in Newsline that the interim final rule creates much-needed standards for production, testing and licensing.

“This is the long-awaited interpretation from USDA of what Congress passed in the 2018 farm bill as it relates to the legalization of hemp,” Bennett said. “This interim final rule provides clarity to producers on everything from crop insurance, THC testing methods, crop destruction protocols, to interstate commerce.”

Hemp producers should review the rule and provide feedback to USDA. The public can provide comment through the Federal Register for a period of 60 days beginning Oct. 31.

Iowa’s Hemp Program is Under Development

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig issued the following response to the USDA’s proposed hemp program rules, which were released today.

“We look forward to reviewing the proposed hemp program rules provided by the USDA,” said Secretary Naig. “We will use this information to refine Iowa’s draft hemp plan before we submit it to USDA for approval. USDA will have 60 days to review and respond to our plan. We are working hard to have Iowa’s hemp program implemented in time for the 2020 growing season.”

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is also drafting administrative rules that will be released for public comment in the coming weeks.

“In the meantime, we want to caution people that it is not legal to cultivate, grow or distribute hemp in Iowa until the USDA approves our state plan,” said Naig. “We also encourage growers to make sure they have quality seed and a buyer identified before they invest in hemp production.”

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will continue to post updates about its hemp program to iowaagriculture.gov/hemp

Bipartisan Lawmakers Agree It’s Time to Pass USMCA

Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) and Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX-10) last weekend led a U.S.-Mexico Interparliamentary Group Meeting in which bipartisan lawmakers discussed the importance of passing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Reps. Cuellar and McCaul both emphasized how the American economy relies on trade with Mexico and highlighted the need to ensure our trade agreements reflect the modern 21st century economy.

Rep. Cuellar:
“Mexico is a critical partner to the United States and is crucial to our own prosperity. They are not only our economic partner, they are our neighbor and friend. It has been 25 years since we ratified NAFTA, and now it is our time to update this trade agreement to reflect our 21st-century economy… I will continue to work across the aisle to pass the USMCA to improve our relationship with Mexico and strengthen our economy for the American people…”

Rep. McCaul:
“…We had in-depth discussions on the mutual benefits of the USMCA including job growth and protections of intellectual property, and I am hopeful that the House will pass this critical agreement soon.”

The bipartisan call for passage of the agreement follows a call by Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA-03), who publicized her support for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) in a speech delivered on the House floor last week. Rep. Axne urged her colleagues to continue working with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to “find agreement on the USMCA soon.” She also emphasized the importance of agriculture to Iowa’s economy and the benefits of USMCA to Iowa farmers.

Rep. Axne:
“I visit each of the 16 counties in my district every month, whether its touring manufacturers, visiting with farmers, or stopping into small businesses. Everywhere I go the message is loud and clear: uncertainty is hurting our bottom line. Agriculture is the backbone of Iowa’s economy; 1 out of every 5 dollars in Iowa is produced from agriculture. Supporting our farmers is neither a partisan nor political issue – it’s simply the right thing to do.”

“Between devastating weather events, ongoing trade wars, and the EPA’s unprecedented abuse of biofuel waivers – our farmers have been put through enough.”

 “They are asking for our help as elected representatives. We must answer their call and get this deal done right and without unnecessary delay. I thank my colleagues for the work that they have done and urge them to expedite negotiations and finalize this agreement soon to make sure we can make lives whole for the people suffering in the state of Iowa and across this country.”

AGCO Reports Third Quarter Results

AGCO, Your Agriculture Company (NYSE: AGCO), a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment and solutions, reported net sales of approximately $2.1 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of approximately 4.8% compared to the third quarter of 2018. Reported net income was $0.10 per share for the third quarter of 2019 and adjusted net income, excluding a non-cash deferred income tax adjustment and restructuring expenses, was $0.82 per share. These results compare to a reported net income of $0.89 per share and adjusted net income, excluding restructuring expenses, of $0.91 per share for the third quarter of 2018. Excluding unfavorable currency translation impacts of approximately 3.1%, net sales in the third quarter of 2019 decreased approximately 1.7% compared to the third quarter of 2018. During the third quarter of 2019, AGCO recorded a non-cash adjustment to establish a valuation allowance against its Brazilian net deferred income tax assets of approximately $53.7 million, or $0.70 per share. The adjustment does not affect the Company’s ability to utilize the deferred income tax assets with future taxable income in Brazil.

Net sales for the first nine months of 2019 were approximately $6.5 billion, a decrease of approximately 3.4% compared to the same period in 2018. Excluding unfavorable currency translation impacts of approximately 4.8%, net sales during the first nine months of 2019 increased approximately 1.4% compared to the same period in 2018. For the first nine months of 2019, reported net income was $2.77 per share and adjusted net income, excluding a non-cash deferred income tax adjustment and restructuring expenses, was $3.50 per share. These results compare to reported net income of $2.33 per share and adjusted net income, excluding restructuring expenses and costs associated with an early retirement of debt, of $2.58 per share for the first nine months of 2018.

Third Quarter Highlights

    Reported regional sales results(1): North America (1.7)%, Europe/Middle East (“EME”) (1.6)%, South America (14.8)%, Asia/Pacific/Africa (“APA”) (15.9)%
    Constant currency regional sales results(1)(2): North America (1.4)%, EME 3.2%, South America (14.4)%, APA (12.2)%
    Regional operating margin performance: North America 6.1%, EME 10.6%, South America (2.3)%, APA 6.1%
    Full-year outlook for net income per share maintained
    Repurchases reduced outstanding shares by approximately 1.3 million in the first nine months of 2019

“AGCO achieved solid third quarter results considering a challenging environment of weakening industry conditions and negative currency impacts,” stated Martin Richenhagen, AGCO’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our continued focus on margins supported our third quarter performance, where we experienced sales declines. Price increases as well as cost control initiatives and productivity improvement efforts allowed us to offset the impact of lower sales and production volumes in the third quarter. We are also making significant progress on our growth initiatives through the development and global expansion of our smart-farming and high technology product lineup. While the current market environment is uncertain, the long-term outlook for our industry and for AGCO remains positive with our focus on both operational efficiency and innovative solutions that support productivity on the farm.”

Iowa Farm Bureau’s Health Benefit Cuts Costs Nearly in Half

Spurred by members’ deep concerns about rising health care prices, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation in 2018 launched the Farm Bureau Health Plan, helping farmers and others in the state cut their premium costs by as much as 50%.

IFBF worked with Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, a longtime partner of the group’s, to create a health benefit “that would not be subject to Affordable Care Act requirements, would be less expensive than ACA plans and would not cost taxpayers a dime,” according to IFBF’s Executive Director Joe Johnson.

“We wanted to provide our members with another option. We knew from the start the plan wouldn’t be for everyone, but we thought it would be an option for those Iowans who do not qualify for ACA subsidies,” Johnson explained.

The Farm Bureau Health Plan is available to Iowa Farm Bureau members living in the state who are not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid or an employer group health plan. Participants in the Farm Bureau Health Plan have three options: two traditional plans with copays, coinsurance and deductibles and a high-deductible plan that offers members the opportunity to fund a health savings account.

All three plans provide free preventative care, affordable copays for primary care physicians and specialists, ER coverage, prescription drug coverage at 65,000 pharmacies and coverage for all Iowa hospitals and 97% of Iowa physicians.

The plans are similar to ACA-compliant plans available in Iowa except that applicants must pass underwriting to qualify for enrollment and they have a $3 million lifetime benefit maximum per covered individual. Also, because the plans are underwritten, they are available for purchase throughout the year, rather than only during limited enrollment periods.

IFB worked with the state Legislature to pass legislation allowing the organization to provide an underwritten health benefit plan to its members. The measure was signed into law by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds in April 2018.

“This was a very heavy lift. The plan was not considered to be ‘insurance,’ so it would not be subject to Affordable Care Act regulations,” Johnson explained, emphasizing that IFBF’s members were very active in calling on lawmakers to approve the bill, which they did by a considerable margin.

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