Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Monday November 25 Ag News


For the week ending November 24, 2019, there were 5.7 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 17 short, 79 adequate, and 3 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 9 short, 87 adequate, and 3 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn harvested was 93 percent, equal to last year, and near 96 for the five-year average.

Winter wheat condition rated 2 percent very poor, 2 poor, 22 fair, 53 good, and 21 excellent.

Sorghum harvested was 90 percent, near 94 last year, and behind 96 average.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 1 percent very poor, 4 poor, 17 fair, 62 good, and 16 excellent.


 Rain and recent snow melt across Iowa delayed harvest and other fieldwork progress as farmers were held to 4.5 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending November 24, 2019, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Propane shortages across the State remain an issue as farmers try to dry their corn due to high moisture content.

Topsoil moisture condition was rated 0 percent very short, 1 percent short, 83 percent adequate and 16 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture condition was rated 0 percent very short, 2 percent short, 82 percent adequate and 16 percent surplus.

Eighty-six percent of the corn for grain crop has been harvested, 10 days behind last year and 2 weeks behind the 5-year average. Producers in the Northwest, North Central and Southeast Districts have harvested 90 percent or more of their expected crop, while harvest in the Northeast and South Central Districts were below 80 percent complete. Moisture content of field corn being harvested for grain was at 19 percent.

Livestock producers have been feeding hay and continue to allow cattle to graze on corn stalks. The increase in temperatures this past week reduced stress on livestock.

USDA: 16% of Corn, 6% of Soybeans Left to Harvest

When farm families gather around the table for Thanksgiving later this week and say what they're thankful for, one thing some farmers won't be listing is a finished harvest. As of Sunday, Nov. 24, 16% of the corn crop and 6% of soybeans were still in the field, according to USDA NASS' latest Crop Progress report released Monday.

Nationwide, the corn harvest slowed again last week, moving ahead 8 percentage points to reach 84% complete as of Sunday, 12 percentage points behind the five-year average of 96%.

Soybean harvest also slowed last week, inching ahead only 3 percentage points to reach 94% as of Sunday. That was 3 percentage points behind the five-year average of 97%.

Winter wheat emerged was estimated at 87% as of Sunday, still 3 percentage points behind the five-year average of 90%. Winter wheat condition held steady at 52% good to excellent. That was slightly below last year's good-to-excellent rating at the same time of 55%.

Sorghum harvested reached 97%, ahead of the five-year average of 92%. Cotton harvested was estimated at 78%, also ahead of the average pace of 74%.

NASS announced last week it will continue to issue its weekly Crop Progress reports beyond the originally scheduled end date of Nov. 25. The agency said in a news release that it will evaluate the harvest progress for all crops each week to determine how long to continue the report.

UPDATE: Tyson Holcomb Plant to Resume Harvest Operations

Tyson Fresh Meats announced on Monday, November 18, that reconstruction of the company’s beef slaughter plant at Holcomb, Kansas – idled for repairs since a fire on August 9 – is nearing completion, and “efforts to resume harvest operations will begin the first week of December, with intentions to be fully operational by the first week of January.” Tyson Fresh Meats group president Steve Stauffer said in the release, “Our team is ready to begin the process of ramping back up, recognizing that there will be testing and adjustments over the first few weeks to ensure equipment functionality while maintaining our commitment to team member safety and food safety.”

The release also stated that, “since the fire, cattle have been diverted to the company’s other beef facilities”, a fact that is in agreeance with observations from and conversations with NC Market Reporting members located near / shipping cattle to Tyson’s three facilities in the NC-MRS trade area (Lexington and Dakota City, Nebraska & Joslin, Illinois.) In addition, NC-MRS did confirm a few live sales in Eastern Nebraska this week that were scheduled to ship to the Holcomb, Kansas plant during the week starting December 2.

NE Cattlemen President Mike Drinnin commented, “We are encouraged to see official communication from Tyson that the Holcomb facility will be coming back on line soon, and we are hopeful that this may help restore some amount of bargaining leverage for cattle feeders in Nebraska and throughout the plains and Midwest – who’ve borne the brunt of the industry’s financial impacts associated with the August 9th fire. The reopening of the Holcomb plant should result in more aggressive cash market participation from Tyson moving forward not only in Nebraska, but also the remainder of the Midwest.”

Free Farm Finance and Ag Law Clinics this December

Free legal and financial clinics are being offered for farmers and ranchers at five sites across the state in December. The clinics are one-on-one meetings with an agricultural law attorney and an agricultural financial counselor. These are not group sessions, and they are confidential.

The attorney and financial advisor specialize in legal and financial issues related to farming and ranching, including financial and business planning, transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, debt structure and cash flow, agricultural disaster programs, and other relevant matters. Here is an opportunity to obtain an independent, outside perspective on issues that may be affecting your farm or ranch.

Clinic Sites and Dates
    Norfolk — Friday, December 6
    North Platte — Thursday, December 12
    Fairbury — Thursday, December 12
    Norfolk — Wednesday, December 18
    Valentine — Thursday, December 19

To sign up for a free clinic or to get more information, call the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.  Funding for this work is provided by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Legal Aid of Nebraska, North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center, and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Ag Economist David Kohl to Speak Dec. 9 in Bruning

Nationally known agricultural economist David Kohl will lead off the 2019-2020 Farmers and Ranchers College series. He'll present on "Agriculture Today: It Is What It Is. What Should We Do About It?" from 1 to 4 p.m. December 9 in the Bruning Opera House.

Kohl is an agricultural economics professor emeritus in the area of agricultural finance and small business management at Virginia Tech University

Other programs in the series are
  - January 28, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. – “Partners In Progress Beef Seminar,” part of the Cow/Calf College at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) near Clay Center. Registration is at 9:30 a.m.

  - March 2020 – “Strategies for Family Farming Success in the Shark Tank” with Ron Hanson, UNL Harlan Agribusiness Professor Emeritus. It will be held at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Geneva. Other details are still being finalized for this program.

All the programs are free; however, registration is appreciated for a meal count. Please call the Nebraska Extension office in Fillmore County at (402) 759-3712 at least one week prior to the program to reserve your spot.

Blood Orange Pictures to Bring ‘SILO’ to the Nebraska Power Farming Show.

Blood Orange Pictures, a New York-based film and television production company, will screen SILO at the Nebraska Power Farming Show (P2 East) December 11th, 2019 5:00pm-6:30pm. SILO is the first ever feature film to address the very real threat of grain entrapment faced by agricultural communities across the country.

Inspired by true events, SILO follows a harrowing day in an American farm town. Disaster strikes when teenager Cody Rose gets entrapped in a 50-foot-tall grain bin. As the corn turns to quicksand, family, neighbors and first responders must put aside their differences to rescue Cody from drowning in the crop that has sustained their community for generations.

SILO aims to both entertain and educate audiences in an effort to build empathy and bring community members closer together. The filmmakers have partnered with prominent nonprofits and companies such as the Grain Handling Safety Coalition, Fallen Firefighters Foundation, Sukup Manufacturing Company, Grinnell Mutual and Turtle Plastics.

The film's unique distribution strategy, The SILO Community Screening Campaign, puts community first and addresses the challenge of bringing high-quality, independent film to rural audiences. The filmmakers are working with community organizers to host SILO screening events in all 50 states.

“Grain entrapment is such an important safety issue for farmers. We are excited to help raise awareness of this dangerous threat to farmers by hosting the film SILO at the Nebraska Power Farming Show.” - Cindy Feldman, Nebraska Power Farming Show

SILO is produced by Samuel Goldberg and Ilan Ulmer and is directed by Marshall Burnette. The script was written by Jason Williamson, and stars Jim Parrack, Jeremy Holm, Jill Paice, Jack DiFalco, Chris Ellis and Danny Ramirez.

For more information, please visit www.Silothefilm.com.

Nebraska Ethanol Board Dec. 11 board meeting to be held in Lincoln

The Nebraska Ethanol Board will hold a board meeting in Lincoln on Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 9 a.m. The meeting will be in the Olive Branch Room, lower level of the Cornhusker Marriott (333 S 13th St.). Highlights of the agenda is as follows:
    Budget Report
    Fuel Retailer Update & Nov. 13 Norfolk Workshop Recap
    E30 Demonstration Update
    Renewable Fuels Nebraska Update
    Environmental, Health & Safety Summit Review
    Marketing Programs
    State and Federal Legislation
    Election of Board Officers for 2020

This agenda contains all items to come before the Board except those items of an emergency nature.

Farm Service Agency Announces Disaster Assistance for Crop Losses Through WHIP+ Program

Milk Loss Program for Dairy Producers Also Open for Applications

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Nebraska announced that agriculture producers affected by natural disasters in 2018 and 2019 can apply for assistance through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program-Plus (WHIP+). Nebraska FSA offices across the state are ready to accept applications.

“Nebraska farmers have had a challenging year,” said Nancy Johner, FSA State Executive Director in Nebraska. “WHIP+ may be able to assist those who have faced significant losses.”

WHIP+ Eligibility

WHIP+ is available to producers who have suffered eligible losses of certain crops, trees, bushes or vines in counties with a Presidential Disaster Declaration or a Secretarial Disaster Designation (primary counties only). A list of qualifying counties is available at farmers.gov/recover/whip-plus. Also, producers with losses in counties that did not receive a disaster declaration or designation may still apply for WHIP+ but must provide supporting documentation to establish that the crops were directly affected by a qualifying disaster event.

“In Nebraska, disaster losses must have been a result of floods, tornadoes, snowstorms or wildfires, and related conditions that occurred in 2018 or 2019,” said Johner.

Eligible crops include those for which federal crop insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage is available, excluding crops intended for grazing. Because grazing and livestock losses are covered by other disaster recovery programs offered through FSA, those losses are not eligible for WHIP+.

Both insured and uninsured producers are eligible to apply for WHIP+, but all producers who receive WHIP+ payments will be required to purchase crop insurance or NAP coverage for the next two available, consecutive crop years after the crop year for which WHIP+ payments were paid.

WHIP+ Payments

WHIP+ payment amounts will be determined using a formula that includes several factors: expected value of the crop, how much of the crop was actually harvested, and crop insurance coverage and payments issued on those crops. At the time of sign-up, producers will be asked to provide verifiable and reliable production records.

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

WHIP+ Prevented Planting

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

An application deadline has not yet been established for the WHIP+ program.

Additional Loss Coverage

The Milk Loss Program will provide payments to eligible dairy operations for milk that was dumped or removed without compensation from the commercial milk market because of a qualifying 2018 and 2019 natural disaster. In Nebraska, qualifying natural disasters for this program include floods, tornadoes, and snowstorms.

Applications for the Milk Loss Program are being accepted through Feb. 1, 2020.
Eligible producers can receive payments at a rate of 75 percent of the market value of the milk that was dumped. The payment formula takes into consideration normal milk marketings for the impacted dairy operation, fair market value of the milk, and promotion and hauling fees, among other factors.

Producers also are reminded of the availability of the On-Farm Storage Loss Program. This program assists those who suffered losses of harvested commodities, including hay, stored in on-farm structures in 2018 and 2019.

For More Information

Additional information about the WHIP+ Program, the Milk Loss Program, and the On-Farm Storage Loss Program can be found at farmers.gov/recover or by contacting your local USDA Service Center.

 Seaboard Triumph Foods gives Blessing Bags to impoverished children in the Sioux City Community School District

Seaboard Triumph Foods (“STF”) made Blessing Bags for 60 children who are homeless, poverty-stricken or facing true hardship with the help of the Sioux City Community School District. The Blessing Bags provide each of those children and their families with essential supplies and holiday gifts they may not have otherwise been able to purchase on their own.

“The concept of the Blessing Bags was created to help students right here in our community who may be facing extreme hardship including homelessness or death of a parent, some at a very young age, by providing essential supplies and support,” says Frank Papenberg, vice president of Seaboard Triumph Foods.

The Blessing Bag contains a personalized gift for the holidays and draw string bag filled with a fleece blanket, hand and foot warmers, a journal with markers, a hygiene kit, a water bottle filled with snacks, a flashlight, additional treats, and pencils.

Each public elementary, middle and high school in Sioux City was given the opportunity to nominate two student families. The anonymous nominations were submitted to the Sioux City Public Schools Foundation and included a gift wish from each member of the family. All submitted nominations were accepted by STF, and Blessing Bags were made for every child in that family.

“As a past educator myself, I know first-hand how much the Blessing Bags will mean to these kids and their families, and I’m thrilled to help lead the Blessing Bag project,” says Laurie Kuchera, executive administrative assistant. “It’s true when they say we rise as a community by lifting others.”

Area student leaders helped make the 60 Blessing Bags with Seaboard Triumph Foods staff. Distribution of the Blessing Bags will take place the first part of December before Christmas break.
“We are extremely thankful for the partnership with the Sioux City Public Schools Foundation and the support from the Sioux City Community School District in helping make the Blessing Bags concept a reality,” says Tori O’Connell, communications specialist for Seaboard Triumph Foods.


The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) today submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to EPA’s supplemental proposed rule for the 2020 volume standards under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.

Rather than addressing the impact of waived renewable fuel gallons based on exemptions actually granted by EPA, the proposed rule would use a three-year average of Department of Energy (DOE) recommended waivers. By using DOE recommendations, not actual waived gallons, EPA’s proposal to redistribute any future waived gallons is half of what President Trump previously committed to farm-state Senators.

“EPA’s proposal does not ensure sufficiently accurate projections for waived gallons and, therefore, will continue to shortchange the RFS when waivers are granted,” NCGA President Kevin Ross wrote. “Farmers are once again asking EPA to uphold the law and the integrity of the RFS.”

Since early 2018, EPA has granted 85 RFS exemptions to refineries for the 2016, 2017 and 2018 RFS compliance years, totaling 4.04 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons of renewable fuel.

More than 1900 corn farmers have submitted comments to the EPA urging they follow the law and uphold the President’s commitment to farmers and the RFS.

Proposed Rule Betrays Promise to Rural America, Farmers Union Says

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s supplemental proposed rule to compensate for the ongoing misappropriation of small refinery exemptions (SREs) “fails to accurately account for the lost gallons and betrays President Trump’s promise to rural America,” according to National Farmers Union (NFU). In comments submitted today, NFU President Roger Johnson urged the agency to account for all 4 billion gallons worth of demand lost to SREs and to establish provisions to prevent the future abuse of waivers.

“On the campaign trail and now as president, Donald Trump has sworn his allegiance to family farmers and ranchers and promised to uphold policies that ensure their prosperity. But actions speak louder than words ­– despite those promises, his EPA has repeatedly and deliberately undercut the American biofuels industry, prioritizing the needs of multibillion-dollar oil corporations at farmers’ expense.

“President Trump then vowed to offset all harm caused by the mishandling of small refinery exemptions – yet another promise that he hasn’t kept. Though this supplemental proposed rule would make up for some of the lost demand, it does not go nearly far enough. Rather than calculate renewable volume obligations based on the actual exemptions granted, EPA has inexplicably proposed using a much lower number that would cut hundreds of millions of gallons from the 2020 targets alone.

“At a minimum, EPA must recalculate its obligations and it must reallocate all 4 billion gallons lost to exemptions since Trump took office. Further, we strongly urge the agency to prevent future abuses by providing greater transparency on both the criteria and the process for granting small refinery exemptions.”

Small Refinery Waivers Must be Based on Actual Exemptions

A proposed rule to implement the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard fails to account for the real harm caused by the agency’s excessive use of small refinery exemptions over the past three years, the American Farm Bureau Federation warned Monday.

“In recent years, the number of small refinery exemptions has increased dramatically, which is problematic because it means refiners blend fewer gallons of renewable fuels into gasoline,” AFBF said in recent comments on the proposal.

Between 2013 and 2015, EPA granted no more than eight small refinery waivers per year. The current administration retroactively approved 19 waivers for 2016, granted 35 waivers in 2017 and another 31 in 2018 – ultimately exempting more than 4 billion gallons of renewable fuel obligations over the past three years.

The organization also took issue with the percentage of exemption applications that have been approved since 2016. Before the current administration took office, EPA approved between 50% and 62% of the applications. Under this administration, EPA approved 95% of the exemptions requested in 2016 and 2017 and 74% of the petitions in 2018 – after prolonged pushback from key agriculture and biofuel industry stakeholders.

“These decisions have had significant impacts on struggling farmers, who have watched the demand for corn grown for ethanol drop as the renewable fuel volume obligations diminish with each exemption granted. It is alarming that the agency will continue down this path as farmers are facing extreme weather challenges, trade headwinds and a rural economy nearing its breaking point,” Farm Bureau said.

The main problem with EPA’s proposal is that it bases the projected volume of gasoline and diesel that would be exempt in 2020 on the three-year rolling average of relief recommended by the Department of Energy, rather than the three-year rolling average of actual exemptions.

“This is problematic because DOE’s projections for the volume of biofuels that will be exempted are often much lower than actual exemptions,” Farm Bureau explained.

Farm Bureau is also calling for the inclusion of language in the final 2020 renewable volume obligations that binds EPA by regulation to use the three-year rolling average of actual exemptions in all future renewable volume obligation rulemakings, not just 2020.

Replacing Aromatics with Biofuels Would Improve Public Health Outcomes, Decrease Fuel Costs

In a letter sent today, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem ­– the Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition ­– urged President Donald Trump to enforce Section 202 of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 by reducing and eliminating toxic carcinogenic aromatics from gasoline. To achieve this, the governors suggested that aromatics be replaced with biofuels, which are higher octane, burn more cleanly, and far better in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, and public health.

Because of its aforementioned benefits, National Farmers Union (NFU) is a longtime proponent of higher-level blends of ethanol. NFU President Roger Johnson thanked Governors Walz and Noem in a statement and advised the administration to adopt their recommendations.

“There are so many reasons to use biofuels: they improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower pump prices, develop new markets for American farm products, create good jobs rural Americans, stimulate local economies, and establish energy independence. Aromatics, on the other hand, are highly toxic, expensive, carbon intensive, and energy inefficient. We applaud Governors Walz and Noem’s efforts to replace aromatics with biofuels, and we strongly urge the Trump administration to follow suit.”

Argentinian Farmers Have a Third of Soybeans Planted

Argentinian soybean planting had been completed in 31.3% of the projected planted area of 17.7 million ha for the 2019-20 crop year (November-October) as of Wednesday due to sufficient rainfall across the northwest, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange, or BAGE, said Thursday. This is 1.7 percentage points lower than at the time last year due to a spell of dry weather in late October that delayed sowing, BAGE said in the report.

The planting area increased only 0.1 million ha in the latest week as some farmers have shifted from corn to soybean.

Argentinian farmers are increasingly shifting from corn to more liquid soybean crops, which are cheaper to plant and bring much-needed US dollar inflow into the country, amid a domestic economic slowdown, reports SP Global.

In both the core and northern regions of La Pampa and west of Buenos Aires, good climatic conditions for planting have enabled accelerated soy seeding, BAGE said. However, the pace of planting in the south of Cordoba and San Luis has lagged behind the national average because of dry weather in October, it added.

Soybean planting requires sufficient rain to retain soil moisture for crop development. Unfavorable weather, such as dry spells, can decrease Argentina's total soy production and export forecasts.

According to the USDA, Argentina -- the world's third largest soybean producer and exporter -- is projected to produce 53 million mt of soybeans in the current crop year, down 4% year on year, and export 8.8. million mt, down 3% over the same period.

Agriculture Must Be Central to an Economy-Wide Climate Policy

As they consider policies and legislation to curb the effects of climate change, federal lawmakers should both recognize the capacity of American family farmers to mitigate and build resilience to climate change as well as enact funding mechanisms to help them do so.

In written comments to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson urged the panel to include recommendations in its pending report that support carbon sequestration on agricultural land. To do this, lawmakers must strengthen the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) voluntary, incentives-based conservation programs; ease on farm energy production and encourage biofuels development; establish new climate-friendly markets for commodities and farm goods; and fund necessary climate research. Congress can fund these programs by enacting a cap-and-trade or similar system.

Johnson reiterated the comments' sentiments in a public statement:
“Agricultural soils hold immense potential to sequester the atmospheric carbon that’s rapidly accelerating climate change. Any successful solution to the climate crisis must strive to fully realize that potential. But the management practices necessary to such a solution are neither free nor simple. Farmers need financial and technical assistance to implement climate friendly practices on their operations, and they should be rewarded for the valuable public service they are providing. To ensure that farmers are appropriately compensated for carbon sequestration activities, we urge the establishment of a funding mechanism like a carbon credit trading system.”

Farmers Union members, numbering 200,000 family farmers and ranchers and rural residents, have long been concerned with the current and future consequences of climate change on agricultural livelihoods and global food security. At the organization’s 117th annual convention in March, Farmers Union delegates passed a special order of business calling for “immediate and decisive action” to help farmers mitigate and adapt to this crisis.

Origin of Livestock Proposed Rule Comment Period — Open Now

On October 1, 2019, the National Organic Program (NOP) reopened the public comment period for the Origin of Livestock proposed rule originally published in 2015. The comment period is open for 60 days: October 1 - December 2, 2019.

The proposed rule would change the requirements related to origin of livestock under the USDA organic regulations. NOP received 1,580 public comments during the original comment period in 2015. USDA will consider all public comments in developing a final rule. This includes public comments from 2015 and from this new comment period.

You do not need to resubmit public comments provided on the 2015 proposed rule. We welcome new or updated comments.

Reopening the public comment period gives people a chance to submit comments who did not do so in 2015. It also allows people to submit updated information, if needed, to inform USDA's development of a final rule.

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