Monday, November 11, 2019

Monday November 11 Ag News

Ricketts Launches Trade Mission to Germany, Preferred Popcorn Signs Trade Agreement

This week, Governor Pete Ricketts is leading a trade mission to Germany to promote Nebraska’s quality ag products and to thank German companies for creating jobs in Nebraska.

The Governor and trade delegation began the mission today in Berlin, Germany where they will meet with government officials and host a reception for University of Nebraska alumni, business officials, and other friends of Nebraska.

Delegates on the mission include representatives from the Department of Economic Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Energy, University of Nebraska, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Omaha Public Power District, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, and several ag and manufacturing businesses.

The trade mission began as Preferred Popcorn, a popcorn manufacturer headquartered in Chapman, Nebraska, inked a new trade agreement.  The new agreement grows Preferred Popcorn’s relationship with Germany-based Haase Foods.  Nebraska is the largest producer of popcorn in the United States with over 353 million lbs of annual production.

This is Governor Ricketts’ second trade mission to the European Union (EU) in the last five years and first trade mission to Germany.  Germany is the largest economy in the EU.  This trade mission comes on the heels of a new trade agreement between the United States and the EU that was secured by President Donald J. Trump.  Under the agreement, the EU has agreed to allow the U.S. to almost triple the amount of beef exported to the region.  In 2005, only five percent of the U.S. beef entering the EU came from Nebraska.  By 2018, Nebraska’s share rose to 53%, and was valued at $124.3 million. 

Ricketts Meets with Top Trade Officials in Berlin

This week, Governor Pete Ricketts and a delegation of more than 25 Nebraskans kicked off the second day of their trade mission to Germany with a briefing from the U.S. Embassy in Berlin on trade and investment opportunities in Germany.

Throughout the day, Governor Ricketts met with high-level German officials from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy as well as the Ministry of Transportation.  Additionally, the Governor attended a working lunch with members of Germany’s Bundestag (federal legislative body).

The day concluded with a “Friends of Nebraska and Alumni” reception, sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Nebraska Department of Economic Development.  The University of Nebraska system has over 300 alumni living in Germany.  This event, and similar ones on other trade missions, strengthen the state’s network of Nebraskans, alumni, and business partners abroad who help promote the Good Life around the globe.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               After soybeans are harvested, cows sometimes are put out on the residues to graze.  Some bean residues are even baled.  But how good is this feed?

               We’re all familiar with the usefulness of grazing corn stalks, but I see more and more residue from soybean fields grazed every year.  And cows seem to like licking up what’s left behind after combining.  But frankly, I’m a little concerned that some folks may think their cows are getting more from those bean residues than what truly is there.

               The problem is a matter of perception.  When most of us think of soybeans, we think high protein.  So we expect bean residues will be a high protein feed, too.  Unfortunately, the opposite is true; soybean residue is very low in protein.

               Soybean stems and pods contain only about 4 to 6 percent crude protein, well below the 7 to 8 percent needed for minimum support of a dry beef cow.  And even though leaves can be up to 12 percent protein, it’s only around one-third digestible, so that’s not much help.  In fact, protein digestibility is low in all bean residues.

               Energy is even worse.  TDN averages between 35 and 45 percent for leaves, stems, and pods.  This is even lower than wheat straw.  As a result, cows fed only bean residue can lose weight and condition very quickly.  Heavy supplementation is needed to maintain cow health.

               Now, this doesn’t mean soybean residues are worthless for grazing or even baled.  They can be a good extender of much higher quality hay or silage.  But, cattle must be fed quite a bit of higher energy and protein feeds to make up for the deficiencies in soybean residues.

               Don’t be misled into thinking bean residues are as good or better than corn stalks.  Otherwise, you and your cows will suffer the consequences.

Climate Assessment Response Committee to Meet

Amelia Breinig, assistant director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, has scheduled a meeting of the Climate Assessment Response Committee (CARC) for Nov. 13. The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. in room 901, Hardin Hall, on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln East Campus.

Officials will brief CARC members on existing, as well as predicted, weather conditions and provide a water availability outlook.

For more details, call the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at (402) 471-2341.

TAPS Banquet to Celebrate 2019 Competitions

Krystle Rhoades - TAPS Program Coordinator

With a record-setting wet growing season and some unique differences in management decisions by competitors, as well as a new contest, this year’s Testing Ag Performance Solutions (TAPS) awards banquet is sure to be interesting.

The 2019 culmination event will be held December 12 at the Holiday Inn Express Conference Center in North Platte. The event will start with a social hour at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 p.m. and the awards presentation at 7 p.m.

The awards for greatest grain yield, highest input use efficiency, and the highest honor, most profitable team, will be announced for each competition. The 2019 competitions included the third annual sprinkler corn competition, the second annual sprinkler sorghum contest, and the first subsurface drip irrigation competition at the West Central Research and Experiment Center in North Platte,  along with the sprinkler irrigated corn competition in Guymon, Oklahoma in partnership with Oklahoma State University.

Attendees will have the opportunity to converse with competitors, industry leaders, and TAPS organizers during the social hour, as well as bid on teams in the UNL-TAPS sprinkler corn contest via a silent bidding Calcutta-style auction.

The auction will give people the opportunity to bid on and purchase the corn sprinkler team they believe will take home the highest award, that of “Most Profitable.” Bidding will start at $25 for each team and will be available from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The winner of the Calcutta will be announced at the end of the evening after the awards have been presented. The proceeds will be split 50/50 between the top bidder of the winning team and the TAPS program. If people are unable to attend but still want to place a bid, please contact Krystle Rhoades.

Following dinner, the evening will conclude with TAPS organizers discussing their findings from this year’s competitions, presenting data derived from teams’ decisions, and presenting awards for each contest.

For those travelling to attend the event, a block of rooms has been reserved at the Holiday Inn Express. Please reference TAPS to receive the discounted rate when calling to make your reservation. The deadline for the discounted block is November 12.

If you would like to attend the TAPS Awards Banquet, please RSVP Krystle Rhoades, TAPS program coordinator, at by December 1.

Space is limited so make sure to save your spot for this evening of peer-to-peer interaction and recognition.

New Officers Named for Farm Equip Manufacturers Association

Member companies of the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Assn., which represents 675 businesses in the farm implement industry in the U.S. and Canada, elected four new members to its board of directors. Hours later, the new board of directors elected officers.

Farm Equipment magazine reports that leading the association as president will be Janea Danuser, vice president and co-owner of Danuser Machine Co. in Fulton, Mo. The company manufactures agricultural and industrial attachments as well as OEM parts and assemblies. Janea Danuser is a fourth-generation co-owner of the company, which was founded in 1910.

The board of directors elected her to a one-year term beginning immediately. She succeeds Nick Jensen of Thurston Manufacturing in Thurston, Neb. Serving with Danuser in officer roles will be:
- First Vice President Matt Westendorf, general manager of Westendorf Manufacturing Co. in Onawa, Iowa.
- Second Vice President Tim Burenga, vice president of sales and purchasing at Worksaver Inc., in Litchfield, Ill.
- Treasurer Paul Jeffrey, general manager at MacDon in Kansas City, Mo.
- Secretary Ben Hellbusch, vice president of sales and marketing at Duo Lift Manufacturing Co. and general manager at Busch Equipment Co., both in Columbus, Neb.

The officers will lead a 16-person board of directors. Member companies at the association's annual business meeting today elected these executives to three-year terms as directors:
- Marc Ivey, vice president of business development for Dirt Dog Manufacturing in Commerce, Ga.
- Phil Landoll, vice president of operations at Landoll Corp., in Marysville, Kan.
- Clair Ellis, president of Ellis Equipment Co. in Logan, Utah.
- Jon Sherrod, area manager for Bondioli & Pavesi in Ashland, Va.

The association represents each link in the farm equipment supply chain. Ivey, Landoll and all of the officers are farm implement manufacturers. Ellis serves as the board representative for equipment marketers, and Sherrod represents the companies that supply component parts and services to manufacturers. Member companies design and produce equipment to complement mass-produced lines. The association serves as their voice, advocate and resource.

Dwindling Milk Supply Forces AMPI Plant Closures

Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) announced last week it is shutting down the AMPI plant in Rochester, Minn.

The cooperative also announced its closing plant in Arlington, Iowa, and the milk processed at both facilities will be routed to other plants in the area including the AMPI cheese plant in Blair, Wis.

Some 75 employees of the Rochester plant are affected by the move. The company says it is working with them to provide access to resources, training, and opportunities to apply for available positions at other AMPI plants.

In announcing the closures, AMPI noted Minnesota has lost 40-percent of its dairy farms and Iowa has lost 50-percent of its dairy operations since 2008.

While the decision affects AMPI's cheese production at the site, milk production will continue.

Kemp's leases a portion of the plant for its milk operations and employs about 200 workers at the site. There is no word on what impact AMPI's decision will have on the Kemp's operation.

AMPI is headquartered in New Ulm, Minn., and owned by dairy farm families from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.

USMEF Elects New Officer Team, Examines Trade Challenges

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) concluded its Strategic Planning Conference in Tucson, Ariz., with the election of new officers. Cevin Jones, a cattle feeder from Eden, Idaho, was elected USMEF chair. He succeeds Iowa pork producer Conley Nelson.

"My first involvement with USMEF was when I was marketing chair with the Idaho Cattle Association," recalled Jones, who along with his brother operates Intermountain Beef, a custom feedlot. "As part of my duties I would go to national conventions where USMEF staff and leadership shared information about their work in international markets. This was a tremendous eye-opener. I valued the importance of export markets then, but value it even more today."

Jones became president of the Idaho Cattle Association in November 2003, shortly before one of the most disruptive events in the history of the U.S. beef industry.

"About one month later, I got the phone call — BSE," Jones said. "Then I truly realized how important our exports markets are, when they closed overnight. But in time I got to see USMEF in action, helping to get those markets reopened."

Jones later chaired the Idaho Beef Council and the Federation of State Beef Councils, and served on the Beef Promotion Operating Committee, further enhancing his interest in expanding global demand for U.S. beef.

As he took the helm at USMEF, Jones encouraged members to remain steadfast in their commitment to international marketing, even in the face of trade barriers and ongoing volatility.

"I expect the trade environment to continue to be very challenging, but we have experienced, dedicated people on the ground in international markets across the world who give USMEF the ability to adapt and change," he said.

The USMEF officer team for 2019-2020 reflects the organization's diverse membership. The new chair-elect is Pat Binger of Wichita, Kan., a vice president at Cargill Protein Group. Binger has been in the red meat industry for more than 30 years, including 27 years in international sales and 16 years directing Cargill's overseas network of offices.

Mark Swanson is USMEF's new vice chair. He is CEO of Birko Corporation, headquartered in Henderson, Colo., and has more than 20 years of experience with some of the most respected institutions in the protein industry, including Iowa Beef Processors, ConAgra Foods and Swift and Company.

The newest USMEF officer is Dean Meyer, who was elected secretary-treasurer. Meyer, a corn, soybean and livestock producer from Rock Rapids, Iowa, is a director of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. He has also served as chair of the Iowa Corn Animal Agriculture and Environment Committee and the Lyon County (Iowa) Pork Producers.

On the final day of the conference USMEF members also received an informative breakdown of the trade landscape in Asia from Wendy Cutler, vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute. Cutler previously served as the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative's chief negotiator on the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and led bilateral negotiations with Japan under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Cutler reviewed the events that have taken place since the U.S. withdrew from TPP, starting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to convince President Trump to return to the agreement. Eventually a preliminary U.S.-Japan trade agreement was reached and it is now under consideration by the Japanese Parliament.

"The great news for you is that this is largely an agricultural deal," Cutler said. "Under this agreement we secured from Japan most of the agricultural market access that we forfeited when we lost TPP. And I think what's really great for beef and pork is that when this deal goes into effect, which should be Jan. 1, we're going to come into that deal 'caught up' with the other TPP countries, meaning that we'll get the same tariff rates that they're getting."

Cutler said U.S. agriculture is understandably encouraged by progress in the U.S.-China negotiations, as the two sides are said to be close to completing a phase one agreement that will improve access for agricultural exports. But she cautioned that the situation remains very volatile, and that finalizing the details of such an agreement often proves difficult.

Earlier in the conference, a panel discussion focused on the potential impact of alternative proteins on global demand for red meat. The session was moderated by USMEF Economist Erin Borror and included Jihae Yang, USMEF director in South Korea; Yuri Barutkin, USMEF representative in Europe; and Glynn Tonsor, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University.

Facing up to the challenge posed alternative proteins was also a component of "Capitalizing on the Greatest Sustainability Story in History," a presentation offered by Allan Gray, a professor at Purdue University and director of the school's Center for Food and Agricultural Business.

Gray's advice to USMEF members is to compete for consumers by helping people understand why traditional meat is the best choice.

"We all like choices, so the urge to take away alternative proteins as a choice may not be the best strategy," he said. "What we should be saying to them is, 'you have choices, but our product is the best choice and here is why.'"

USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom briefed members on a number of key issues that could open new opportunities for U.S. red meat exports. In addition to the U.S.-Japan trade agreement, Halstrom said a U.S.-specific share of the European Union's duty-free beef quota will deliver more reliable and consistent access to the high-value European market. This measure is currently under consideration in the EU Parliament. Halstrom also stressed the importance of bringing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to a ratification vote.

"From a carcass utilization standpoint, Canada and Mexico complement our Asian markets perfectly," Halstrom said. "I hate to think what round prices would be if not for Canada and Mexico, because we don't sell many rounds to Asia. On the pork side, there are some hams exported to Asia but it's not the primary item. Hams are the No. 1 item going to Mexico and pretty high on the list for Canada."

Long-Sought Opening of Brazilian Wheat TRQ Ahead

A significant impediment to U.S. wheat sales to the large Brazilian market is likely to end soon. Brazil’s government has announced it intends to implement a tariff rate quota (TRQ) allowing up to 750,000 metric tons (MT) of wheat to be imported duty-free from countries outside the Mercosur trade agreement.

Brazil first agreed to this TRQ some 24 years ago when it joined the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Brazilian government is now moving forward with developing a final process and date for implementing the TRQ.

Through U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the U.S. government, wheat farmers have worked and negotiated for several years with Brazil’s government to open the TRQ and create a more open market there for U.S. hard red winter (HRW) and soft red winter (SRW) wheat.

“Brazil is a quality-focused wheat market and its flour millers recognize that U.S. wheat can help them better meet their customers’ needs,” said USW President Vince Peterson. “Opening the TRQ will give those millers more consistent access to our wheat classes while still having the option to source from other countries. That is how the market should work and we welcome this opportunity.”

“This is a perfect example of how fulfilling commitments can work for all trading partners,” said Doug Goyings, USW Chairman and a wheat farmer from Paulding, Ohio. “We want to recognize Ambassador Gregg Doud, our Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney, as well as the career staff of USDA and USTR for their focus on this issue. They have raised it multiple times with their counterparts in Brazil.”

Brazil is the fourth largest wheat importer in the world but Argentina and other countries in the Mercosur agreement have had a competitive advantage with mostly unlimited duty-free access to the market. Wheat imports from countries outside the Mercosur agreement including the United States are subject to a 10 percent tariff. However, USW has always conducted activities in Brazil to keep its millers and bakers informed about the quality and value of U.S. wheat. As a result, when Brazil opened provisional TRQs in 2008, 2013 and 2014 because its Mercosur partners had wheat supply challenges, U.S. HRW and SRW made up more than 80 percent of imports.

NCBA Op-Ed: "Why Sustainability?"

By Ethan Lane, Vice President, Government Affairs, National Cattlemen's Beef Assoc.

When the topic of sustainability comes up in conversation in cattle circles, it’s common to see heads shaking. It’s not a topic we like to discuss in our industry – primarily because it’s so often raised with bad intentions and worse information. We bristle because we’ve been doing things right in our business for many generations and it’s difficult to accept that outsiders have influence in how we’re doing business.

Increasingly, though, that’s exactly what’s happening. In the case of sustainability, consumers have decided they ought to have a better understanding and perhaps even a say in how their food is produced.

Now, we don’t have to like the fact that consumers and in many cases outside interest groups have turned a spotlight on beef production, but there is tremendous interest in how food is produced. You can probably trace the origins back to the rise of Food Network and celebrity chefs, but special interests also played a role in the attention that’s paid to modern food production and the practices used to raise cattle and produce beef. The natural evolution of that interest was the conversation about sustainability and whether a product is viewed by consumers as “sustainable.”

Regardless of whether we might like the word or agree with its definition, we’re being judged on how we do things in this business. That same scrutiny is being applied to every single product that goes into a shopper’s cart. The folks who are buying beef care about what we did to the product along the way and we have a good story to tell. But we all know we can tell it until we’re blue in the face and not many folks are going to listen. To get people to pay attention to the beef sustainability story, we must rely on others to help tell it, and perhaps more importantly, verify the story that’s being told. In many cases, the groups telling our story haven’t always had our best interests in mind. One group that has come up in conversations recently is the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

To set the record straight up front, NCBA isn’t a member of WWF and WWF is not a member of NCBA. Neither organization receives any support, financial or otherwise, from the other. Likewise, no checkoff dollars have been sent to WWF. Both NCBA and WWF are members of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) and the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) and these efforts are funded strictly with NCBA membership dollars. Here again, no checkoff funds have been used to fund GRSB or USRSB. NCBA participates in both GRSB and USRSB at the direction of its members and we participate to make certain that the voice of cattlemen and cattlewomen is heard in conversations about cattle and beef production practices.

Groups like WWF and many others have tremendous influence over corporations in the United States and most foreign countries. That influence extends to the purchasing decisions that are being made by corporations like Costco, Wal Mart, McDonald’s, Sysco and many others. The influence of WWF and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) extends to Wall Street and the investment banks that provide funding for these massive global corporations. Here too the NGOs hold significant power.

The sustainability of a product like beef can be measured through a lifecycle assessment (LCA), a process that is well-documented and backed by science. The beef industry, thanks to the Beef Checkoff, has already completed its own LCA and it continues to update and refine the results of that work, which shows that beef producers have always been sustainable and continue to become more sustainable with each passing year. Cattle producers have always been good stewards of our natural resources and we’re continually making our animals more efficient. But the sustainability of a product doesn’t begin or end at the ranch gate. It extends backward to the feed and minerals we supply the cowherd. It also encompasses the fuel used to ship packages of beef to distribution centers and the refrigeration used to keep it cold in the grocery store. It’s perhaps the longest and most complex supply chain of any food item.

 We know there’s a lot of misinformation about cattle and beef and the impact it has on the environment. We know that some of the folks spreading that misinformation sit across the table from us in conversations about sustainability, but frankly that’s why it’s important for us to be at that table in the first place. Without us that conversation will still happen, but it will happen only amongst our detractors, and without an advocate for our strong record of sustainable production.

We also know that because we have a seat at the table during GRSB and USRSB meetings, we’ve been able to educate both NGO representatives and participating corporations about our resource stewardship and the improvements being made by the entire beef supply chain. Because of these conversations and because of the beef industry’s work to complete an LCA, we’ve been able to demonstrate our sustainability and keep their buyers in the market for our product, instead of shifting to chicken or pork, which are still our two biggest competitors by a wide margin.

The world around us is changing and we’re not headed back to a simpler time. Ever. The world in which we’re producing cattle becomes more complex by the day and frankly that’s why NCBA exists, to help lead the industry through the challenges we face. We might not like the topic of sustainability but that’s one of the many ways NCBA provides value to our members. We sit at the table and represent the interests of our members in conversations they’d rather not have, with people they don’t always agree with.

Those conversations aren’t always easy or popular and we’re going to face our share of critics for having them, but that’s part of the job when you serve as the trusted leader and definitive voice of the beef industry.

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