Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Wednesday December 30 Ag News

 Scoular appoints Chief Information Officer

Scoular announced on Wednesday that David Tomlinson has been appointed to the position of Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, effective January 19, 2021. As a member of the company’s Senior Leadership Team, Tomlinson will lead Scoular’s IT function and the company’s efforts to leverage technology to create solutions for its customers and drive company growth.

“Technology is revolutionizing the agricultural industry, driving both efficiency and innovation,” said Scoular CEO Paul Maass. “With 20 years of IT experience, David understands the importance of partnering with business functions to maintain existing technology as well as explore and integrate new solutions. We are thrilled he is joining Scoular.”

Tomlinson joins Scoular after more than 15 years at Conagra Brands in various positions, including his most recent role as Vice President of Information Technology, leading the Business Relationship Management IT organization. He also has held management positions in IT at Conagra Brands supporting sales and marketing, supply chain planning, trade and web development. After graduating from the University of Texas at Dallas, David spent the first several years of his career in the tech start-up sector and worked for Hewlett Packard.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 12/25/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending December 25, ethanol production decreased 4.3%, or 41,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 934,000 b/d—equivalent to 39.23 million gallons daily. Production remained 12.4% below the same week last year. The four-week average ethanol production rate declined 1.0% to 964,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.78 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks grew 1.4% to a 32-week high of 23.5 million barrels, which was 11.7% above a year-ago. Inventories built across all regions except the Rocky Mountains (PADD 4) and West Coast (PADD 5).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, increased 1.3% to 8.13 million b/d (124.60 bg annualized). Gasoline demand was 9.3% less than a year ago.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol rose 2.0% to 818,000 b/d, equivalent to 12.54 bg annualized. This was 7.5% below the year-earlier level as a result of the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the week. However, imports have been logged fifteen of the past 23 weeks. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of October 2020.)

USDA Extends Flexibilities Amid Continuing COVID-19 Pandemic

USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) is extending crop insurance flexibilities for producers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, relief provided for electronic notifications and signatures is extended through July 15, 2021; organic certification, replant self-certification and assignment of indemnity are extended through June 30, 2021.

“We recognize that American agriculture continues to face challenges due to the pandemic,” RMA Administrator Martin Barbre said. “RMA remains committed to providing flexibility that supports the health and safety of all parties while also ensuring that the federal crop insurance program continues to serve as a vital risk management tool.”

RMA is also allowing Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs) further flexibilities for production reporting, submitting written agreement requests and obtaining producer signatures for written agreement offers. Producer signatures for written agreement offers, issued by RMA on or before June 30, 2021, with an expiration date on or before July 30, 2021, will allow producer signatures to be accepted after the expiration date with proper self-certification or documentation. However, all documentation and signatures for these offers must be completed no later than August 2, 2021. AIPs also have 30 business days to submit written agreement requests and applicable documentation for requests with submission deadlines prior to July 1, 2021.

Prices for Most Fertilizers Continue Higher

Average retail fertilizer prices continue to be mostly higher the fourth week of December 2020, according to sellers surveyed by DTN. Seven of the eight major fertilizers are higher from the previous month.

Prices for three fertilizers increased a significant amount, which DTN designates as 5% or more. Anhydrous was 9% more expensive compared to the prior month with an average price of $461 per ton.

Both MAP and potash were 8% higher in price looking back to last month. MAP had an average price of $535/ton while potash $365/ton.

Four fertilizers were just slightly higher in price compared to prior month. DAP had an average price of $474/ton, urea $363/ton, 10-34-0 $463/ton and UAN32 $250/ton.

The remaining fertilizer, UAN28, was unchanged in price from last month. The nitrogen fertilizer had an average price of $210/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.28/lb.N, UAN28 $0.37/lb.N and UAN32 $0.39/lb.N.

Retail fertilizer prices continue to be mostly lower in price from a year ago, but there are a couple exceptions. DAP is 7% higher while MAP is 18% more expensive compared to last year.

10-34-0 is 1% less expensive, potash is 3% lower, urea is 4% less expensive, anhydrous is 6% lower, UAN32 is 9% less expensive and UAN28 is 13% lower from last year at this time.

Dicamba Settlement Claims period Begins

Attorneys for farmers announced the execution of a $400 million settlement agreement designed to compensate farmers for yield losses resulting from dicamba damage. The claims period begins on December 29, 2020.

The settlement with Monsanto provides compensation for damage and yield losses occurring from the introduction of the Xtend crop system. The $400 million settlement offers farmers an opportunity to receive the financial compensation they deserve for damage they have experienced, which is particularly helpful to farmers in these difficult times. Anyone with specific types of evidence of dicamba damage in any of year from 2015 through 2020 is eligible to participate in the settlement.

"We are pleased that relief will soon be available to the thousands of farmers across America who have suffered yield losses due to off-target movement of dicamba," said attorney Don Downing, chair of the court-appointed Plaintiffs' Executive Committee in the multi-district litigation.

Under the settlement, affected farmers may receive up to 100% of their yield losses caused by off-target dicamba. That means impacted farmers can potentially recover 100 cents on the dollar of the losses that they can establish with standard farming records.

Farmers are able to complete the claim process on their own; can hire an attorney of their choice; or can retain one of the Plaintiffs' Executive Committee firms to assist with putting together the claim form and supporting documentation.

The settlement resolves the claims brought by a large group of farmers from several states whose dicamba injury lawsuits had been consolidated into a multi-district litigation pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and claims for the 2015-2020 crop years.

Argentina's Grain Port Strike Comes to an End

Argentina's port and grain union workers have ended a 20-day strike after an agreement was reached Dec. 29 following government intervention, lifting a major work stoppage that left more than 150 grain ships stranded at the country's ports.

The agreement was reached with oilseed and port worker unions at a meeting hosted by Argentina's Ministry of Labor, ending a strike that has paralyzed port terminals and the country's agriculture industry, Cámara de la Industria Aceitera de la República Argentina, or CIARA, said in a Dec. 29 statement.

Argentina is one of the world's top soybean, corn and wheat suppliers, and the strike hampered grain trade flow out of the country, weighing on markets for the last few weeks and contributing, in part, to a global grain price rally.

Workers were demanding a wage raise, holding back cargo ships at a crucial time when the export season ramps up in Argentina. The country's wheat marketing season begins in December.

"Each delayed ship has a [demurrage] cost of between $25,000 and $40,000 per day," said Javier Mariscotti, an Argentina-based trader and director of the Rosario Stock Exchange.

More than 2.5 million mt of agriculture products were waiting to be shipped, he added.

Another Argentina-based analyst estimated the overall vessel demurrage cost at around $1.9 billion. All the volume committed and not shipped in December will aim to be covered by January shipments, with some of those January volumes possibly being moved to February, the analyst said.

The volume of wheat waiting in the shipping lineups was around 1.4 million mt, he added.

In December 2019 Argentina exported 2.1 million mt of wheat,, more than 2 million mt of soybean products and around 1.9 mt of corn products, according to Argentinian government export data.

U.S.-UK Organic Equivalency Keeps Trade Opportunities Open

The USDA and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) negotiate organic trade arrangements to help organic farms and businesses access new markets for their products. Effective Friday, January 1, 2021, organic trade between the United States (U.S.) and United Kingdom (UK), which includes Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) and Northern Ireland, will take place under a new equivalence arrangement that allows organic products certified to either the USDA or UK organic standards to be labelled and sold as organic in both countries, as long as the products meet the terms of the arrangement.

The biggest change to current import/export practices under the new arrangement is that USDA organic products exported to England, Scotland and Wales must be accompanied by a new paper Great Britain import certificate developed by the UK. Shipments to Northern Ireland will continue to use the European Union's TRACES certificate system. Learn more about requirements under the arrangement on the USDA and UK websites.

Part 2 of 4: Delving Into Ranch Group’s First Ever Cattle Producers’ Long-Range Plan

Launched December 16, the cattle industry’s first-ever “Cattle Industry Long Range Plan,” completed by the 13-member board of directors of R-CALF USA, incorporates key principles to lead the U.S. cattle industry into the future and guide public policy decisions that impact the industry.

In this second part of the group’s four-part series, R-CALF USA focuses on the third and fourth strategies of the long-range plan for independent cattle producers:
-    Preserve and Protect the Liberties and Freedoms of U.S. Independent Cattle Producers
-    Reform the Cattle Industry’s Legal and Regulatory Framework So U.S. Cattle Producers Can Protect the Marketplace On Their Own

“These two strategies comprise the heart and soul of the plan as they speak directly to the core values held by America’s independent cattle producers,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

Speaking to the first strategy Bullard added, “The freedom to conduct their individual cattle operations the way they choose, without interference from the heavy hands of government and monopolistic corporations is a core value embraced by our thousands of cattle-producer members.”

He said the group’s ongoing legal battle to stop the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from mandating that every cattle producer uses radio frequency identification (RFID) eartags and registers their premises with the government exemplifies adherence to a value system that prioritizes freedom and liberty.

Speaking to the second strategy, Bullard said United States cattle producers have been ill-served by a legal and regulatory system in which had to rely on others within the industry to preserve and protect marketplace competition.

“America’s cattle producers cannot be independent if they continue to depend on government bureaucrats to preserve and protect the very market from which their independence is derived.”

Bullard explained that cattle producers waited years before the government showed any inclination to address what every producer knew was a broken marketplace. He said it was not until the Tyson fire in Kansas and the additional market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that the government took any meaningful notice of the dysfunctional cattle market.

“Independent producers must play a much larger role in protecting competition in the marketplace and the long-range plan will help them make that happen,” he concluded.   

Several of R-CALF USA’s Board of Directors will participate in a Facebook Live Meeting at 7:00 p.m. MST today to delve into these two important strategies contained in the first-ever long-range plan for cattle producers. The public is invited to participate.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Tuesday December 29 Ag News

– Ben Beckman, NE Extension Educator

We as humans often like to try and compare things to average or normal.   At the end of the year, we look back and see if the precipitation we received was within the expected normal range.  Were temperatures for particular season outside of normal, or even if our pasture or hay production was in the range we consider normal.
Taking this time to look back and try to compare 2020 to years past is beneficial, but resist the temptation to compare things to normal.  Very rarely, do things in the ever changing world of agriculture really meet average or normal.
This year much of the state was too dry, but we don’t have to go back far and too much water was the issue. This variability can be found geographically as well as across time.  For most of 2020 north central parts of the state had an abundance of water, while the panhandle and west were already drying up.  Another challenge this year were early temperatures. This spring, temperatures were cool and impacted early pasture and hay growth, in years past, an overly warm spring has presented a different set of problems to deal with.
Producers work in a dynamic system that seldom repeats itself.  In doing so, we learn to be adaptive, to build resilience into our production and planning, and try to spread our eggs out amongst several different baskets.  When you take time to look back this year on the challenges and successes, try to see where adapting to a problem worked or how a bit more flexibility next year could keep an issue from arising.  Leave the normal and average comparisons out of it.

Nebraska Beef Council January zoom meeting

The Nebraska Beef Council Board of Directors will have a zoom meeting at the NBC office in Kearney, NE, located at 1319 Central Ave. on Wednesday, January 13th, 2021 beginning at 10:00 a.m. CST. The NBC Board of Directors will discuss USMEF Foreign Marketing. For more information, please contact Pam Esslinger at    

UNMC, Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, Omaha, NE

Portable generators can temporarily provide power to farms and ranches during disasters or severe weather events. They are internal combustion engines suitable for temporarily generating electricity.

However, users need to be aware of the serious harm generators can cause to property and people if they aren’t used in a safe manner.

Hazards associated with generators include
⦁    Shocks and electrocution from improper use of power or accidentally energizing other electrical systems.
⦁    Carbon monoxide coming from a generator’s exhaust.
⦁    Fires that occur from improperly refueling a generator or inappropriately storing fuel for the generator.
⦁    Noise and vibration hazards.
The electricity produced by a generator poses the same hazards as utility-supplied electricity. Additional hazards associated with generators occur when users bypass built-in safety devices (such as circuit breakers) found in electrical systems.

These precautions can help reduce shock and electrocution hazards related to portable generator use:
⦁    Never attach a generator directly to the electrical system of a structure such as a home, office, trailer, unless a qualified electrician has properly installed the generator with a transfer switch. Attaching a generator directly to a building’s electrical system without a properly installed transfer switch can energize wiring systems for great distances. This creates a risk of electrocution for utility workers and others in the area.
⦁    Always plug electrical appliances directly into the generator using the manufacturer’s supplied cords or extension cords that are grounded (3-pronged). Inspect the cords to make sure they’re fully intact and not damaged, cut or abraded. Never use frayed or damaged extension cords. Ensure the cords are appropriately rated in watts or amps for the intended use. Do not use underrated cords. Replace them with rated cords that use heavier gauge wires. Don’t overload a generator, because doing so can lead to overheating and creation of a fire hazard.
⦁    Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), especially where electrical equipment is used in or around wet or damp locations. GFCIs shut power off when an electrical current is detected outside normal paths. GFCIs and extension cords with built-in GFCI protection can be purchased at hardware stores, do-it-yourself centers, and other locations that sell electrical equipment. Regardless of GVCI use, electrical equipment used in wet and damp locations must be listed and approved for those conditions.
⦁    Make sure the generator is properly grounded and grounding connections are tight. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for proper grounding methods.
⦁    Keep the generator dry. Don’t use it in the rain or wet conditions. If necessary, protect the generator with a canopy. Never manipulate a generator’s electrical components if you’re wet or standing in water.
⦁    Don’t use electrical equipment that has been submerged in water. Equipment must be thoroughly dried out and properly evaluated before using. Power off and do not use any electrical equipment that has strange odors or begins smoking.

Colorless, odorless carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas. Many people have died due to exposure to CO when their generator was not properly ventilated. Even if you can’t smell exhaust fumes, you may have been exposed to CO. To avoid CO exposure, follow these guidelines:
⦁    Never use a generator indoors or in enclosed spaces such as garages, crawl spaces or basements. Be aware that open windows and doors may NOT prevent CO from building up when a generator is located in an enclosed space.
⦁    Make sure the generator has between 3 and 4 feet of clearance on all sides and above it to ensure adequate ventilation.
⦁    Don’t use a generator outdoors if its placement near doors, windows, and vents might allow CO to enter and build up in occupied spaces.
⦁    If anyone in the vicinity of the generator displays symptoms of CO poisoning – dizziness, headaches, nausea, fatigue – immediately go to an area with fresh air and seek medical attention. Don’t re-enter the area where CO buildup is suspected until trained and properly equipped personnel has determined the area is safe.

Generators pose fire hazards under the following conditions:
⦁    While they’re running, portable generators become hot. They remain hot for long periods after they stop running. Generator fuels – gasoline, kerosene, etc. – can ignited when spilled on hot engine parts.
⦁    Before refueling a generator, shut it down and allow it to cool.
⦁    Store and transport gasoline and other generator fuels in approved containers properly designed and marked for contents.
⦁    Maintain an adequate supply of fuel. Assess your generator’s rate of fuel consumption and consider how much you can store for how long. Gasoline and diesel stored for long periods may need added chemicals to ensure they’re safe to use. Check with your supplier for storage recommendations.
⦁    Keep fuel containers away from flame producing and heat generating devices (the generator, water heater, cigarette, lighter, matches, etc.). Don’t smoke around fuel containers. Be aware that escaping vapors or vapors from spilled materials can travel long distances to ignition sources.
⦁    Don’t store generator fuels in your home. Store them well away from living areas.

Don’t overlook the noise and vibration hazards associated with portable generators.
⦁    Generator engines vibrate and create noise. Excessive noise and vibration could cause hearing loss and fatigue that may affect job performance.
⦁    Keep portable generators as far away as possible from work areas and gathering spaces.
⦁    If generators cannot be placed at a distance from these areas, wear hearing protection.

Additional safety precautions for using generators include:
⦁    Disconnect power coming into your house/business before operating your generator. Otherwise, power from your generator could be sent back into the utility company lines, creating a hazardous situation for utility workers.
⦁    Regularly inspect and complete maintenance activities for your generator. Check above-ground storage tanks, pipes and valves to identify cracks and leaks. Immediately replace damaged materials. Tanks may require a permit or must meet other regulatory requirements. Complete a maintenance service at least one time per year. Periodically run the generator to make sure it will be ready when its needed.

Since every emergency is different, learn about and follow guidance from your state and local emergency management authorities and local utility company. Before engaging in an activity that could impact utility services, contact your local utility company to ensure your activities are completed safely.

Make Every Bite Count: USDA, HHS Release Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025

Nutrition in America took a major step forward today with the publication of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. Jointly published by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) every five years, the guidelines provide science-based recommendations designed to foster healthy dietary patterns for Americans of all ages – from birth through older adults. Importantly, this edition expands the guidance, for the first time including recommended healthy dietary patterns for infants and toddlers.

“At USDA and HHS, we work to serve the American people – to help every American thrive and live healthier lives through access to healthy foods and providing nutrition recommendations,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “With the release of the dietary guidelines, we have taken the very important step to provide nutrition guidance that can help all Americans lead healthier lives by making every bite count.”

Dietary Guidelines for Americans is the nation’s trusted resource for evidence-based nutrition guidance. The guidelines are designed for use by healthcare professionals and policy makers for outreach to the general public and provide the nutritional foundation for federal nutrition programs. The dietary guidelines should not be considered clinical guidelines for the treatment of disease.

“The science tells us that good nutrition leads to better health outcomes, and the new dietary guidelines use the best available evidence to give Americans the information they need to make healthy decisions for themselves and their families,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “USDA and HHS have expanded this edition of the dietary guidelines to provide new guidance for infants, toddlers, and pregnant and breastfeeding women, helping all Americans to improve their health, no matter their age or life stage.”

As always, the new guidelines build on the previous editions and were informed by the scientific report developed by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, along with comments from the public and input from federal agencies. USDA and HHS thank the committee for their work and dedication over the last fifteen months, providing the departments with a comprehensive scientific review and proposal of overarching recommendations, a highly regarded step of critical importance in dietary guidelines development. USDA and HHS also made transparency a priority in this edition and appreciate the many public comments that were received throughout this process.

Today’s release provides the public with the most up-to-date evidence on dietary behaviors that promote health and may help prevent chronic disease. Steeped in scientific evidence, the key recommendations look similar to those of the past and address two topics that garnered much attention throughout the development of the guidelines – added sugars and alcoholic beverages. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 carried forward the committee’s emphasis on limiting these dietary components, but did not include changes to quantitative recommendations, as there was not a preponderance of evidence in the material the committee reviewed to support specific changes, as required by law. As in previous editions, limited intake of these two food components is encouraged. In fact, this sentiment remains prominent throughout the policy document and complements the four overarching guidelines, which encourage Americans to “Make Every Bite Count” by:
-    Following a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage.
-    Customizing and enjoying nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations.
-    Focusing on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages from five food groups – vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy and fortified soy alternatives, and proteins – and staying within calorie limits.
-    Limiting foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limiting alcoholic beverages.

For consumers, USDA’s MyPlate translates and packages these principles of dietary guidance for Americans in a way that is handy and accessible. To share these messages broadly, USDA offers the Start Simple with MyPlate campaign and a new MyPlate website to help individuals, families, and communities make healthy food choices that are easy, accessible, and affordable, in addition to helping prevent chronic disease. For more information, please visit

Dietary Guidelines For Americans Solidifies The Benefits Of Beef And A Healthy Diet

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) today commends the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for finalizing the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), which recognizes the role of lean beef in a healthy diet across all life stages and ages.
Updated every five years, the DGAs serve as the foundation for federal nutrition policy and shape the recommendations found on USDA’s MyPlate. While there is no one-size-fits-all diet, “Beef is one of Americans' favorite foods, and science consistently shows lean beef can be the cornerstone in a variety of healthy diets," said NCBA President Marty Smith. "Now more than ever, the key to proper nutrition is giving people practical and realistic advice, to help create balanced diets that work for them – featuring foods they love, like beef, which pairs perfectly with other nutrient-rich foods,”
The DGAs emphasized the importance of making every bite count by choosing nutrient-rich foods most often; that is easy to do with beef. No other protein food delivers the same nutrient-rich package as beef in about 170 calories, on average, per three-ounce serving of cooked beef. Beef is a good source of ten essential nutrients including high quality protein, iron, zinc, and choline with more than 30 lean cuts.
"U.S. cattle producers appreciate the work of the committee, USDA and HHS on their sole focus on nutrition and science-based research to put together a set of recommendations that will benefit all Americans," Smith said.  

2020-2025 Guidelines Reaffirm Lean Pork's Role In A Healthy Diet

National Pork Board

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) was released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Updated every five years, this report serves as the foundation for federal nutrition policy and shapes the recommendations found on USDA’s MyPlate. The DGA also provides the public with tools they need to make informed decisions regarding food for their families. This edition marks the first time the guidelines provide recommendations by life stage, from birth through adulthood.  

The guidelines reaffirm the role of lean pork in a healthy diet and are consistent with the recommendation to include a variety of nutrient-dense proteins. Overall, they advise people to “follow a healthy dietary pattern” that consists primarily of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meat and poultry, and low-fat dairy or fortified soy alternatives. They also advise limiting added sugars, saturated fats, sodium and alcoholic drinks and staying within recommended calorie limits.  

While fresh pork is respected by the scientific community as a nutritious source of lean protein, it continues to lag behind other proteins when it comes to consumer perceptions of being “good for me and my family” according to the ongoing Checkoff-funded At Home Meat Tracker.

In response, the National Pork Board is updating its approach to Human Nutrition Research and building a strategic pathway for pork nutrition that capitalizes on the latest research and opportunities that will ultimately help evolve perceptions for pork in a healthy diet and overall nutritional well-being. As we build a new health narrative, this will be an important message that we bring to life through Real Pork.

In 2021, be on the lookout for:
-    A new look and new messages to help consumers make the connection to pork being “good for me and my family.”
-    A more holistic wellness approach including a public wellness challenge in January demonstrating how pork fits into healthy lifestyles.
-    The Checkoff’s continued involvement in human nutrition and behavioral science research to support pork’s presence in health and wellness dialogue globally.

Dietary Guidelines Reaffirm Dairy’s Crucial Nutritional Benefits; Fats Review Urged for 2025

The National Milk Producers Federation praised USDA and HHS today upon the release of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), which reaffirmed dairy’s central role in diet as a provider of essential nutrients that are often under-consumed in American diets. NMPF also pledged to continue efforts to broaden consideration of the latest science on dairy fats in the next examination of the federal guidelines, which are released twice each decade.

“USDA and HHS deserve praise for once again recognizing just how vital dairy is to the nation’s health and well-being,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We encourage them to affirm that role even more clearly in the next iteration of the Dietary Guidelines, to reflect the positive contribution of dairy fats in diets that’s increasingly recognized in a growing body of evidence.”

The guidelines culminate nearly two years of work that began in 2019 with the selection of the Scientific Advisory Committee, which drafts recommendations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The latest update to the guidelines restates dairy’s importance to diet. Highlights include:
-    A recommendation of three servings of dairy in the Healthy U.S. Eating pattern and Healthy Vegetarian Eating patterns, in keeping with past guidelines
-    Dairy’s continued recognition as a distinct food group
-    A recognition that Americans aren’t consuming enough dairy to meet their nutritional needs
-    Dairy’s reaffirmation as a source of four nutrients of public health concern, including potassium, calcium, and vitamin D, as well as iodine for pregnant women
-    A recommendation of milk, yogurt, and cheese in the first-ever healthy eating patterns geared toward infants and toddlers ages birth to 24 months.

“The panel’s recognition that dairy is a key source of ‘nutrients of concern’ in U.S. diets is especially important,” Mulhern said. “During a time of food insecurity and concerns about proper nutrition among Americans, dairy is a readily accessible solution to clearly identified public-health challenges. Dairy farmers work hard to be part of that solution, and the panel’s recognition of the nutritional importance of dairy is greatly appreciated.”

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans have significant implications for numerous government policy areas, including guiding the types of milk served in school meal programs and setting the parameters for how nutrition programs are implemented and developed.

Agricultural safety conference shares life-saving research

The Journal of Agromedicine has dedicated an issue to the 2020 North American Agricultural Safety Summit, disseminating research results and intervention evaluations that make agricultural work places safer.

Although the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic prevented an in-person Summit scheduled for March 2020, conference host organization Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America (ASHCA) received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and support from eight sponsoring organizations, to promote the Summit’s objectives in alternative ways.

Links to 41 published abstracts summarizing poster presentations and lightning talks are posted at, under the “Safety Summit” tab. The abstracts were peer-reviewed and accepted based on: a) the likelihood of generating dialogue and collaboration among researchers, program implementers and industry partners; and b) relevance to current and emerging priorities in production agriculture.

“This special issue of the Journal of Agromedicine helps reinforce the important partnership between academia and industry in moving agricultural health and safety forward,” said Barbara Lee, Ph.D., Journal of Agromedicine senior associate editor, an ASHCA board member and director of the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety.

The Journal of Agromedicine is the highest-rated journal in the field of agricultural health and safety. It is edited by the National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, and published by Taylor and Francis Group.

2021 Summit: The North American Agricultural Safety Summit 2021, to be presented online March 22-24, seeks abstracts that address pandemic “lessons learned” and other topics related to safeguarding agricultural workers. Abstract submission deadline is Jan. 15, 2021. In addition, ASHCA seeks nominations of individuals and organizations for 10 categories of safety awards to be presented during the 2021 Summit. Nomination deadline is Jan. 6, 2021. For more information on the 2021 Summit, or to register for the conference, visit the ASHCA website at

Granular Releases Free, Easy Crop Rotation ROI Calculator

For years corn has held a profitability edge, making a corn-on-corn rotation a consideration for many U.S. farmers. Looking at 2021, Data Scientists at Granular, the world's leading farm management software platform, have seen renewed optimism in beans due to recent market rallies, amping up the corn versus soybeans profitability debate for many farming operations.

After analyzing more than 10 million acres and corn-bean rotations for the past decade, Granular's Data Science team created a proprietary Corn vs Soybeans Calculator to help farmers with their decision to rotate or not. It is estimated that around 20% of traditional corn-corn acres remain undecided, and taking into account certain agronomic and geographical factors, optimal rotation for 2021 profitability may be different than recent years. By leveraging this free, simple-to-use digital tool, powered by Granular's algorithms and data from local universities, farmers can get 2021 profitability estimates within minutes.

"Corn versus beans is a perennial debate, and we've put more than 1.1 billion pixels into this analysis, so we're confident it's thorough," said Chris Seifert, head of digital agriculture data science with Corteva Agriscience. "Because so many farmers still have acreage undecided for 2021, and we saw the highest bean prices in November since 2016, we created the Corn vs Soybeans Calculator to help them make data-backed decisions on what's right for their operation. At the end of the day, we want farmers to feel confident in their seed and input decisions for 2021, and using data can help give them that confidence."

The differentiator between this calculator, and potentially others available, is that it is directly correlated with the millions of acres of continuous cropping data that helps Granular more accurately predict the potential yield penalty than existing research based on field trials alone. The digitization of data sets at scale gives the agriculture industry the opportunity to truly understand limiting factors toward profitability, and helps farmers understand how to achieve the greatest returns on their investments.

"We're still debating rotating to soybeans or doing corn-on-corn on a few of our fields," said farmer and Pioneer customer Andy Nordhues of Randolph, Neb. "We had strong corn-on-corn yields in 2020, but we're certainly watching the bean markets. Having a tool to help me pull the numbers together and analyze trusted data trends to assist in making my decisions is definitely helpful."

Farmers know that to ensure profitability they must meticulously track their numbers. For efficiency, having all of the farm data in one system that provides up-to-date insights and analysis allows farmers to understand field-by-field profitability.

The calculator accounts for the expected yield penalty for repeat crops (based on state) as well as the anticipated cost increase for the suggested mitigation strategies. Budget costs are calculated using numbers provided by local state universities, and the crop price is the prior day's market closing cost, updated daily via Barchart.

Farmers can access the free ROI calculator at

For farmers that want to dig even deeper into the agronomic and marketing factors impacting their rotation decisions, Granular has compiled expert insights from Pioneer Agronomy Manager Matt Essick and South Dakota Grain Merchandiser Cullen Wilson.

Farmers can also look to their local Pioneer seed professional to assist them in making data-backed decisions for ahead of the 2021 growing season. And no matter what crop an individual operation analysis favors, Corteva has the seed technologies including Pioneer brand Enlist E3 soybeans, and Pioneer brand Qrome corn products with rootworm protection to support a strong 2021 plan.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Monday December 28 Ag News

– Daren Redfearn, UNL Forage/Crop Residue Specialist

As the year comes to an end, it can help to look back at forage management production and learn what to improve to make it better next year.  Stick around and I'll give you some ideas.
Did last spring come in so fast that before you knew it, thistles were already blooming?  This spring, make it a point to spray just as corn planting begins and you should have good success.
When did your pastures run out?  Mid-summer?  Late-summer?  Fall?  You have plenty of annual forage options to fill any gaps – forages like sudangrass, pearl millet, oats, and turnips are few of the common ones that can be very productive.  Plant and use these annual forages when your other pastures have slow growth and are stressed so you have plenty of grazing for your cattle.  Your regular pastures will bounce back quicker as well.
Did you take an extra late cutting of alfalfa in the fall because of good September and October growth?  That hay was high quality, so either sell it for a premium price or use it only for special feeding situations.  This coming spring, though, it may start to grow a little slower.  If so, let it start to bloom before cutting.           
We all can do better next year than we did this year.  One of the best ways to accomplish this is to look back to learn what we hope to do better in the future.   

Nebraska Cattlemen Honors Ann Marie Bosshamer with the 2020 Industry Service Award

The Nebraska Cattlemen recently awarded Ann Marie Bosshamer with the Nebraska Cattlemen’s 2020 Industry Service Award at the Nebraska Beef Council headquarters in Kearney, NE.

Ann Marie has dedicated well over 20 years to the Nebraska Beef Council and is currently the executive director. At the Nebraska Beef Council she leads a team that oversees the collection and management of the $1 per head Beef Checkoff in Nebraska. From being featured on radio and television commercials for the “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner” campaign over the years Ann Marie has been recognized as the “Voice of Beef” by many Nebraskans.

Ann Marie and Husband Brian Bosshamer reside near Amherst Nebraska with their two daughters Brook & Breanna. When they are not working on all things BEEF they are busy with sports, show cattle and other extracurricular activities the girls are involved in. Ann Marie is an Alumni of the Nebraska Lead Program, the 2016 UNL Block and Bride Honoree and the Bosshamer’s were named the Grand Marshals at the Nebraska State Fair in 2019.

While presenting the award, Nebraska Cattlemen Past President Mike Drinnin said, “Ann Marie is the voice of Nebraska beef, with an unwavering dedication to not just the Nebraska Beef Council but Nationally, and for that the beef industry could not have picked a better spokesperson.”

Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation Announces Availability of Youth Scholarships

The Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation (NCF) is accepting applications for scholarships from qualified youth in Nebraska who have an interest in the beef industry. These scholarships will be awarded for the 2021-2022 academic year and are provided through contributions received by the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation. Applications are available on the Nebraska Cattlemen website ( or can be obtained by calling the NCF office at (402) 475-2333.

The Nebraska Cattlemen Beef State Scholarship awards a $10,000 scholarship to an outstanding college junior, senior or graduate-level student. Eligible students must be residents of Nebraska and be enrolled in a Nebraska college or university pursuing a beef industry-related degree. The scholarship will be awarded based on student need, Nebraska beef industry involvement (past achievements and future plans) and academics. Students will be required to complete the written application (due in the NCF office by February 15, 2021) and finalists will be invited to a final interview with the selection committee.

NCF offers numerous other $1,000 minimum scholarships, awarded on the basis of academic achievement, beef industry involvement and goals/quality of application. This application is due into the NCF office by March 15, 2021. Scholarship recipients must be a high school senior or college student, have a “C” or higher-grade point average, and be enrolled or intending to enroll full time in a college or university that offers a bachelor’s degree, an approved vocation or trade school, or a state accredited junior college. Refer to the application for complete selection requirements.

Registration now open for Iowa Farm Bureau's virtual Young Farmer Conference

Registration is open for the 2021 Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) Young Farmer Conference, geared toward farmers and agribusiness professionals ages 18-35. Due to the ongoing pandemic, this year’s conference will be held virtually Jan. 29 and 30 and features two dynamic keynote speakers, eight live breakout sessions, networking opportunities and more.

“This year’s theme, ‘Always Essential,’ encompasses how farmers, agriculture and food production have been a focal point during the pandemic, and it’s clear that food will always be essential. And, of course, we know food production starts on the farm,” said Mary Ebert, IFBF Young Farmer chair. “While more than 500 young farmers across the state would normally gather in person to learn and network at this annual event, we’ve found some great speakers to safely bring perspective and valuable insights virtually to young farmers after a challenging year. The sessions offer something for everyone.”

Jan. 29 keynote speaker, Zach Johnson, known as The Millennial Farmer to his 700,000 YouTube subscribers, is a fifth-generation farmer from Minnesota. With his talk, “Farmers Are Just Like Real People,” he’ll share his vision to build a connection between farmers and consumers and provide farmer to farmer education. The next evening, Jan. 30, Jeff Havens, a business growth expert, will dive into how to “Uncrapify Your Future!” Havens is known for providing serious solutions with a side of humor to bring fresh perspectives that run counter to conventional wisdom.

Scheduled breakout sessions include a mix of topics that are top of mind for young farmers, including balancing the business side of the farm with family life. Speakers will share advice on embracing farm life with a ‘city’ background and managing stress when different personalities are working side by side.  A variety of farm business experts will share insight on off-farm investments, taking advantage of disaster recovery programs, contract hog production considerations, hay marketing and more. A trauma care specialist with Iowa Methodist Medical Center will also review with participants actions they can take to “Stop the Bleed” and save a life when farm injuries occur.

During the virtual event, six ag-related businesses will also be participating in a live pitch-off in an effort to be named Iowa Farm Bureau’s Grow Your Future Award winner with a top cash prize of $7,500. Viewers are encouraged to vote for their favorite ag business, and the top three winners will be announced at the conclusion of the conference.

To view the full 2021 IFBF Virtual Young Farmer Conference agenda and to register, visit Registration is free and for members only. To become a member, visit

Iowa Beef Recognizes BQA Award Recipients

Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) continues to be an important pillar of checkoff programming and each year we strive to recognize outstanding individuals that exemplify the tenets of the program. The awards were announced on December 18th during the Annual Meeting. We are pleased to share the winners of the 2020 Beef Quality Assurance Awards.

2020 BQA Feedlot Award

The Iowa Feedyard awards recognizes outstanding farmer feeders with a commitment to BQA principles. Mogler Farms of Alvord, IA is a family operation spanning three generations with seven family members currently working on the farm. This is a diversified farm operation encompassing a hog farrow-to-finish operation, row crops, beef feedlot, and a commercial grain elevator. The beef feedlot consists of 3000 head and is the pride and joy of Howard. Mogler Farms have been early adopters of electronic ID, feedyard performance monitoring programs and have participated in university studies to examine best management practices. Ross Mogler shared, “Since implementing the BQA  standards, we have seen improvement of cattle care, comfort, health, and performance. The team prides themselves on handling the cattle in the proper manner and seeing the benefits of leading animal husbandry standards.” Their commitment to a high standard of care is all encompassing, congratulations to Mogler Farms on being selected the 2020 Feedyard Award recipient.

2020 BQA Cow-Calf Award  

Setting cattle up for success starts early in life at the first stage of production. David Bruene, Iowa State University Beef Teaching Farm Manager, works diligently to help students and farm employees understand the importance of BQA principles and how to implement those strategies every day to ensure calves are set for long-term success. When working in a teaching environment, safe cattle handling is paramount for students and the cattle. Student hires at the farm come with varying degrees of experience and the BQA program provides a consistent standard that helps build continuity within the team, no matter the task. Congratulations David Bruene on being selected the 2020 Cow-Calf Award recipient.

2020 Marketer BQA Award

Iowa is the home to a robust live auction system facilitated by the work of auction markets across the state. Dunlap Livestock Auction is a long-time builder of the next generation of livestock producers – having supported many local county fair 4-H and FFA beef shows, worked with ISU extension to study impacts of feeder cattle pricing, etc. and even hosted the World Livestock Auctioneer Contest in the early 2000’s. Family matriarch’s Jim and Ruth purchased the market in 1950 with the transition to Jay, Jim and Jon taking over the family business in the 90’s. Today, the third generation of Schaben’s are involved in the family business. Dunlap Livestock Auction has been a household name in the livestock business as their influence stretches far beyond the gavel. They have been integral in helping local cattlemen attain BQA certification by working alongside BQA educators to host several certification events for producers seeking assistance. Congratulations to Dunlap Livestock Auction for being selected as the 2020 Iowa Marketer Award recipient.

Registration Now Open for 2021-2022 SowBridge Educational Series

SowBridge, the distance educational series for those who work with sows, boars and piglets, and with genetic and reproductive issues, begins its next program year in February 2021, and registration is now underway. This opportunity pairs electronically provided materials with live presentations via teleconference. Suggestions from past participants help with planning the next year’s topics and speakers, and maintain the program’s value, according to Ken Stalder, Iowa State University animal science professor and extension swine specialist.

“Each year we ask participants for suggestions on topics and speakers, and follow through as much as possible to provide current content that people are interested in,” Stalder said. “SowBridge provides all participants with the opportunity to hear directly from experts, and to contact those experts following the individual sessions.”

Stalder, who also is the Iowa contact for SowBridge, said registration cost remains at $200 ($U.S.) for the first registration from an entity, and each subsequent registration from the same entity is half that amount, for subscribers from the U.S. or Canada.

“We recognize the current economic condition of the pork industry, and want to encourage participation by all producers,” Stalder said. “By maintaining the registration fee, we hope more people will be able to take part.”

SowBridge is designed to improve the understanding and application of various tools and techniques involved in daily care of the breeding herd and piglets. Sessions are typically scheduled for the first Wednesday of every month but occasionally may be moved a week to avoid interference with national industry events or holidays.

“With the live phone presentation and slideshow available on their computer or other device, participants can take part from anywhere without needing internet access,”  Stalder said.

The distance learning approach allows people to take part without having to travel, take time from work or worry about weather conditions. During each session, participants can ask questions of the industry expert presenter and discuss with other participants from the comfort of their home, office or swine unit. Remember that SowBridge can serve as continuing education for employees and meets this requirement for PQA certification.

Before each session, participants receive a link to download the presentation and any additional information provided by the presenter. Participants call in for the audio portion of each session to listen to the presenter and while following the presentation file on their own computer or device. Sessions begin at 11:15 a.m. Central Time and last no more than an hour.

Each registration provides access to one phone line per session and all program materials for each registration, including audio recordings of the live session. Materials, delivery process and program costs are slightly different for those with non-U.S. mailing addresses. Regardless of location, those with questions on the program or registration should contact Sherry Hoyer at Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State for more information. Hoyer can be reached by phone at 515-294-4496 or email

To provide a look at the content of SowBridge sessions, an example video was created using the presentation material and audio recording from a 2017 session where speaker Corinne Bromfield gave a presentation titled, “Identifying Scours.”

2021 session dates, topics, speakers and their industry affiliations are as follows.
    Feb. 4,  Day One Sow Care, Ashley Johnson, Zoetis
    March 3,  Preventing COVID-19 on Swine Farms, Erin Ehinger, Provimi North America
    April 7,  Mental Health of Barn Workers, Robin Tutor Marcom, North Carolina Agromedicine Institute
    May 5,  Gilt Development, Steve Brier, Smithfield
    June 2, How to Handle Activists on Farms, Jen Sorenson, Iowa Select Farms
    July 7,  Litter Size Adjustment Strategies, Steve Horton, Thomas Livestock
    Aug. 4,  Sow Lifetime Productivity Findings, Jennifer Patterson, University of Alberta
    Sept. 1, Pig Farm Safety Practices, Melissa Millerick-May/Beth Ferry, Michigan State University
    Oct. 6,  Gilt Synchronization- Tools &Techniques, Tim Safranski, University of Missouri
    Nov. 3,  Economics of Mortalities on Sow Farms, Caleb Shull, The Maschhoffs
    Dec. 1,  Interventions to Reduce Mortalities: Pre-Weaning, Kara Stewart, Purdue University
    Jan. 5, 2022,  Sow Lameness, Benny Mote, University of Nebraska

The yearlong program is offered by registration only with a Jan. 20, 2021, deadline to ensure participants will receive materials for the first session on Feb. 4. A brochure with information and a registration form is available on the IPIC website at Iowa residents who want more information can call Stalder at 800-808-7675.

SowBridge is provided through a cooperative effort  of 15 colleges and universities from the nation’s major swine producing states including Iowa State University.

Cattle on Feed

Matthew Diersen, Risk & Business Management Specialist, South Dakota State University

Friday December 18th was the December Cattle on Feed report. The trade expectations told a consistent story of lower placements and marketings from a year ago. The actual numbers came in consistent with those expectations. The total on feed, 12.0 million head, was up slightly from 2019. Placements were seasonally lower overall. Kansas was an exception with steady placements, boosting their on-feed total from last year. The placements across weight categories reflected fewer placements in the heaviest and lightest weight categories, following uniformly lower placements last month. Many of the swings from the spring COVID-19 disruptions seem to be working through the system.

Heading into 2021, it is a prudent time to consider marketing plans for cattle. In the northern plains that may very well be several components: one for calves, one for yearlings, one for retained ownership, etc. The cash cattle trade has some consistent seasonal patterns. Catching the early spring seasonal high in fed cattle may be an objective. A way to do that in advance is to use futures or options. For example, the live cattle futures contract currently show the implied pattern prices may take for 2021, with April trading at a $4/cwt premium to the surrounding contract months. As a non-storable commodity, cattle do not have the carrying charge forces at work like the grains and oilseeds contracts.

Making sense of the patterns in futures prices requires looking across contract months and looking at patterns within specific contracts. For live cattle, the even-months have contracts: February, April, June, August, October, and December. It is important to understand the price chart you are looking at to guide decisions. Sometimes when you try to find a longer-run price chart, many providers will display a price series that reflects prices across a series of nearby contracts rolled at or before expiration. Such charts are useful for analyzing prices, but less useful when guiding specific hedge decisions. For example, last summer when the nearby rolled from June to August, the prices used went from $91.65/cwt to $97.30/cwt. Most other rolls were less extreme, but the underlying pattern could not be captured by placing hedges and not changing contract months.

A better approach is to use the cash price series or nearby futures series to guide target months for marketing, then switch to specific contact months to see the behavior of the chosen futures contract. For example, if cattle will not be finished until May, then the June contract would likely provide better hedge protection than the April contract, even though the April price may look more attractive. The price objective is then to pick a price level for June futures that is acceptable. The June futures price will likely adjust with other futures prices, but its tendency is to remain below the April futures price. To lock in a seasonally high June futures price will likely require monitoring the June contract price on its own. Usually, data providers have a way to overlay earlier charts on top of the current chart.

USDA and HHS Release Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025

TOMORROW, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, 10:00 am (EST), the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) will host a virtual event to announce the release of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. The latest edition of the guidelines was built upon Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020, with updates grounded in the scientific reviews of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, along with comments received from the public and input from federal agencies.

Updated jointly by USDA and HHS every five years, the dietary guidelines provide Americans with science-based advice on what to eat and drink to promote health, help reduce risk of chronic disease, and meet individual nutrient needs.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 is the first set of guidelines to provide guidance for healthy dietary patterns throughout all stages of life – birth through older adulthood, including pregnant and lactating women. The 2020-2025 edition of the guidelines will help nutrition and health professionals encourage Americans to “Make Every Bite Count” by consuming nutrient dense foods and beverages.

Once the event has concluded, people can go to to access Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025, along with other companion resources, including new tools through

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Wednesday December 23 Hogs & Pigs Report + Ag News


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on December 1, 2020, was 3.65 million head, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was down 4% from December 1, 2019, and down 4% from September 1, 2020.

Breeding hog inventory, at 430,000 head, was down 2% from December 1, 2019, but unchanged from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 3.22 million head, was down 4% from last year, and down 4% from last quarter.

The September - November 2020 Nebraska pig crop, at 2.22 million head, was unchanged from 2019. Sows farrowed during the period totaled 190,000 head, unchanged from last year. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.70 for the September - November period, compared to 11.70 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 190,000 sows during the December 2020 - February 2021 quarter, unchanged from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago. Intended farrowings for March - May 2021 are 190,000 sows, down 5% from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.


On December 1, 2020, there were 24.8 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs report. Inventory is down 100,000 head from the previous year.

The September-November quarterly pig crop was 6.33 million head, equal to the previous quarter but 9% above last year. A total of 560,000 sows farrowed during this quarter. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.30, equal to last quarter.

As of December 1, producers planned to farrow 530,000 sows and gilts in the December 2020-February 2021 quarter and 530,000 head during the March-May 2021 quarter.

United States Hog Inventory Down 1 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on December 1, 2020 was 77.5 million head. This was down 1 percent from December 1, 2019, and down 1 percent from September 1, 2020.   Breeding inventory, at 6.28 million head, was down 3 percent from last year, and down 1 percent from the previous quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 71.2 million head, was down 1 percent from last year, and down 1 percent from last quarter.

The September-November 2020 pig crop, at 35.0 million head, was down 1 percent from 2019. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 3.16 million head, down 1 percent from 2019. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 50 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.05 for the September-November period, compared to 11.09 last year.

United States hog producers intend to have 3.12 million sows farrow during the December 2020-February 2021 quarter, up 2 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period one year earlier, and up 1 percent from the same period two years earlier. Intended farrowings for March-May 2021, at 3.12 million sows, are down 1 percent from the same period one year earlier, and down slightly from the same period two years earlier.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 48 percent of the total United States hog inventory, unchanged from the previous year.


UNMC, Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, Omaha, NE

What is cold stress and why should farmers and ranchers be aware of its symptoms?

Cold stress occurs when skin temperature, and eventually internal body temperature, decreases during exposure to cold temperatures. Near freezing temperatures, especially when combined with increased wind speed, cause heat to leave the body. Wetness, dampness – even from body sweat – also expedites loss of body heat. When the body is unable to warm itself, serious cold-related illnesses and injuries may occur.

Anyone working outside in cold and windy conditions is at risk for cold stress. When working outside, it’s important to be aware of air temperature and wind chill factors to gauge the level of cold stress risk.

Factors that increase the risk of cold stress include:
Improper dress
Predisposing health conditions such as hypertension, hypothyroidism, and diabetes
Poor physical conditioning

The risks of cold stress include permanent tissue damage and death. Types of cold stress include trench foot, frostbite and hypothermia.

Trench foot is a non-freezing injury of the feet caused by prolonged exposure to wet and cold conditions. This injury may occur in temperatures as high as 60 degrees (Fahrenheit) if feet are constantly wet since wet feet lose heat 25 times faster than dry feet.

Trench foot symptoms include reddening skin, tingling, pain, swelling, leg cramps, numbness, and blisters.

If trench foot injury is suspected, call 911 or seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Remove wet shoes/boots and socks. Dry the feet and avoid standing or walking. Keep affected feet elevated until medical help is available.

Frostbite occurs when skin and tissues freeze. It may lead to permanent damage to the body, including amputation in severe cases.

Risk of frostbite is increased for people with reduced blood circulation or those who aren’t dressed to withstand cold temperatures.

Symptoms of frostbite include reddened skin and development of gray-white patches in fingers, toes, nose or ear lobes. Tingling, aching, loss of feeling, hardening of the skin and blisters may occur in affected areas.

If these symptoms occur, follow these first aid guidelines:
Protect the frostbitten area by loosely wrapping a dry cloth around it. Protect the area from contact until medical help is available.
Do NOT rub the affected area. Doing so causes damage to both the skin and underlying tissue.
Do NOT apply snow or water to the affected area.
Do NOT break blisters.
Do NOT try to re-warm the frostbitten with heating pads or warm water before getting medical assistance. If a frostbitten area is rewarmed and then frozen again, tissue damage may increase. The safest practice is to allow medical professionals to rewarm the affected area.

Normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees (Fahrenheit). Prolonged exposure eventually uses up the body’s stored energy and the body may begin losing heat faster than it can warm itself. When body temperature drops to less than 95 degrees (Fahrenheit), hypothermia occurs. This condition is most likely to occur at very cold temperatures, but it may happen even at temperatures above 40 degrees (Fahrenheit) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or immersion in cold water.

Symptoms of hypothermia include:
Uncontrolled shivering
Loss of physical coordination
Slurred speech
Slowing of heart rate/breathing

Shivering indicates that the body is losing heat. While it helps the body rewarm itself, uncontrolled shivering should not be ignored. The affected person may not realize what’s happening to them since low body temperature adversely affects the brain, causing a victim to lose the ability to think clearly or move well, making hypothermia a particularly dangerous result of cold stress.

If hypothermia is suspected, follow these first aid guidelines:
Call 911 immediately in an emergency.
Move the affected person to a warm, dry area.
Remove any wet clothing and replace it with dry clothing.
Wrap the entire body (including head and neck) in layers of blankets and with a vapor barrier (i.e. tarp, garbage bag). Do not cover the victim’s face.

If medical help is more than 30 minutes away:
Unless the victim is unconscious, give warm sweetened drinks to help increase body temperature. Do not use alcoholic beverages.
Place warm bottles or hot packs in armpits, sides of chest, and groin. Call 911 for additional rewarming instructions.

Victims of hypothermia may stop breathing. In that case:
Call 911 immediately.
Treat the victim as per the hypothermia instructions here, but do not attempt to give them any fluids.
For 60 seconds check the affected person for breathing and pulse.
If after 60 seconds no breathing or pulse is detected, a trained person may initiate rescue breaths for 3 minutes.
Check again for 60 seconds to detect breathing or pulse.
If there is no breath or pulse, continue rescue breathing.
Consult the 911 operator or emergency medical services before initiating chest compressions.
Periodically reassess the person’s physical status.

To help prevent cold stress, recognize the weather and environmental conditions that may lead to cold stress. Learn about and know how to recognize symptoms of cold stress and the appropriate first aid responses.

Additional cold stress prevention steps:
Know how to select proper clothing for cold, wet, and windy conditions.
Regularly monitor your and/or coworker’s physical conditions.
Schedule frequent short breaks in warm, dry areas to allow the body to warm up.
As much as possible, schedule work activities during the warmest part of the day.
Use the buddy system and work in pairs.
Provide warm, sweet beverages to assist the body in generating heat. Avoid alcoholic beverages, which expedite loss of body heat.
When appropriate, use radiant heaters in the work area.

Anytime you work outside, stay aware of temperature changes and wind chill advisories and warnings. Always monitor your physical condition while working in a cold environment and dress appropriately. Stay dry in cold conditions because moisture or dampness causes increased loss of body heat. Keep extra clothing handy in case of the need to shed wet clothes. Learn as much as you can about the best safety practices and implement them.

Lower Elkhorn NRD approves contract to complete work on the Willow Creek dam near Pierce

Phase 1 of the Willow Creek Dam High Artesian Pressure Mitigation Project was approved at the December meeting of the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Board of Directors.  The board authorized an agreement with HDR Engineering for the project design to mitigate the high artesian pressures at the dam, with a cost not to exceed $50,032.  Phase 1 of the project will primarily involve the installation of wells and pump tests to mitigate the artesian pressures.  LENRD Projects Manager, Curt Becker, said, “This project is another example of the continued effort of the LENRD to partner with agencies in securing available funding.  The district is always looking for grant opportunities to maximize the use of our local tax dollars.”  The total estimated project cost is $307,970.00 with $170,000 coming from the High Hazard Potential Dam (HHPD) grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The board also approved the 2020 Crop Damage Agreement and payment for the Norman and Agnes Herian land, near the Willow Creek reservoir, in the amount of $6,672.73.

LENRD Assistant Manager, Brian Bruckner, updated the board on the Standard Variance applications that were approved last month.  An error during processing caused the total score for one of the applications from the NON 10/50 area to rank incorrectly.  Upon correction of the error, the corrected total score increased it to be within the range for approval.  The board amended the motions from the November board meeting to reflect the corrected number of 2676.77 new groundwater irrigated acres.

In other action, the board accepted a bid from Precision IT for audio/video equipment for the board room in the amount of $6,905.

The board also approved the service agreement with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, for the research project - Visualizing and Assessing Nitrogen Contamination in Northeastern Nebraska, with a contract amount not to exceed $40,216.

In other business, the board accepted the marketing proposal from Hollman Media to assist with a media campaign dealing with the perception of the NRD and to bring public awareness of nitrate use and contamination.  This will be a month-to-month contract, not to exceed the amount of $1,867.50 per month and a one-time fee for website development of $3,180.

The board voted to approve the Dividend Resolution for the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD), regarding the use of the NARD Risk Pool to purchase an office building for the NARD.

The board also authorized the general manager to sign an Interlocal Agreement with the City of Norfolk to perform an east drainage study, not to exceed the 50% cost-share amount of $18,825.95.

The LENRD board & staff meet each month to develop and implement management plans to protect our natural resources for the future.  The next LENRD board meeting will be Thursday, January 28th at 7:30 p.m.  

USDA Clears Santa’s Reindeer for Entry into the United States

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today issued a movement permit to Mr. S. Nicholas Claus of the North Pole, a broker with Worldwide Gifts, Unlimited. The permit will allow reindeer to enter and exit the United States between the hours of 7 p.m. December 24, 2020 and 7 a.m. December 25, 2020, through or over any U.S. border port.

“This is a holiday season like no other. But as I told my grandkids, Santa has immunity to COVID, so he and his reindeer will circle the globe as planned,” said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Greg Ibach. “We are all looking forward to Mr. Claus’ special brand of Christmas cheer, this year more than ever. To help ensure a smooth trip, USDA worked with Worldwide Gifts Unlimited to issue this permit in advance and waived all applicable fees.”

Veterinary officials ensured the reindeer met all entry requirements before issuing the permit. It was noted on the health certificate that one reindeer, Rudolph, has a minor physical anomaly. The veterinarian indicated that Rudolph’s red nose, while bright, was normal for him and not a concern.

The reindeer will arrive pulling a wooden sleigh with jingling bells attached, filled with brightly wrapped gifts. Port personnel, who will wear appropriate personal protective equipment and follow all COVID safety rules, will clean and disinfect the runners and underside of the sleigh at the time of entry. They will also conduct a short visual inspection of the reindeer. Mr. Claus will disinfect his boots and thoroughly wash his hands. These measures are intended to prevent the entry of any livestock diseases the team may encounter during deliveries to farms around the world prior to entering the United States.

Mr. Claus also provided an advance list of what port personnel should expect upon their arrival. This includes a variety of food items, all of which come from approved locations and none of which pose a threat to U.S. animal or plant health.

“It’s important that Worldwide Gifts, Unlimited take all the right steps and precautions to protect against the potential introduction of pests and diseases,” explained Mr. Claus. “I appreciate USDA’s assistance every year as we gear up for our big night.”

Whether you see the smiles, joy, and wonder on children’s faces this Christmas morning in person or on video chat, enjoy the moment. Happy holidays from USDA!

PASTURE FERTILITY: pH, Potassium, & Sulfur

– Ben Beckman, NE Extension Educator
After we receive soil tests back from the lab, the next step is developing a plan for pasture fertility.  The past few weeks we’ve looked at the Bray/Mehlich and Olsen tests for phosphorus.  This week, let’s focus on pH, potassium, and sulfur
pH can play a big role in plant health and nutrient availability.  A majority of forage crops grow best with a pH around 6.0. Mixtures heavy in legumes tend to prefer a bit higher pH around 6.5.  An application of lime is the tried and true route to raise pH.  As with fertility, native plants can often handle pH ranges outside of recommendation, so evaluate before taking action.
Typically soils in Nebraska have relatively high naturally occurring levels of potassium, but if soil tests show you are low, fertilization can boost yield and improve plant health, especially for legumes.  Mixed pastures with legume and grasses require higher potassium fertilization to keep the legumes healthy and competitive with the grasses, increasing their longevity in the stand. For irrigated pastures,
 •           4-40 ppm apply 90 lb. K/acre for grass pastures or 120 lb. K/acre for grass-legume
•           41-75 ppm apply 60 lb. K/acre for grass pastures or 80 lb. K/acre for grass-legume
•           76-125 ppm apply 30 lb. K/acre for grass pastures or 40 lb. K/acre for grass-legume
•           Over 125 ppm tests don’t require additional fertilization
The last nutrient to look at is sulfur.  In irrigated, light textured soils with low organic matter, sulfur may be limiting.  Irrigation water can actually be a good indicator of sulfur availability.  Water under 6 ppm needs fertilization.  Fertilization can then be done at a rate of 30-40 lbs. per year or 100 lb. before seeding once every three years.
If you have additional questions, the NebGuide G1977: Fertilizing Grass Pastures and Hayland is a great resource, and as always, for additional help or information, contact your local extension office.

Scoular spearheads effort among Omaha corporations to provide $400 bonuses to 115 teachers

More than 100 Omaha teachers who primarily serve at-risk students will each receive a $400 bonus thanks to a corporate giving initiative organized by Scoular to recognize educators’ critical role during the pandemic.

Along with Scoular, Omaha companies Buildertrend and Home Instead, an anonymous corporate donor, as well as an anonymous individual donor, donated a total of $50,000 to provide the year-end bonuses. The bonuses will support 115 teachers who work for one of three organizations: the Omaha Street School, the NorthStar Foundation and the CUES School System. CUES assists Sacred Heart, All Saints and Holy Name Catholic Schools.

Scoular spearheaded the project because the company values stewardship and supporting the communities in which its employees work and live, with particular recognition for the impact of the pandemic, said Megan Belcher, Senior Vice President and General Counsel and a Scoular Foundation Trustee.

“Teachers are crucial in helping our communities and families to navigate the pandemic successfully. Scoular employees recognize and appreciate the complexities educators face during the current disruption and want to extend our deep gratitude to them for lifting up youth and their caregivers during these unprecedented times. This type of giving is also a core pillar of our growing sustainability program as we continue to expand our deep history of community engagement,” Belcher said.

Improve Farm Profitability with Precision Conservation

How to improve farm profitability with the use of precision conservation will be the topic of the Iowa Learning Farms webinar on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at noon.

Precision agricultural technology can inform many management decisions on the farm, including identifying underperforming acres. In these low-yielding acres, conservation can improve profitability and result in increased return on investment.

During this webinar, Josh Divan, precision ag and conservation specialist at Iowa Pheasants Forever, will discuss how precision conservation can increase profitability, improve wildlife habitat, build soil health, increase water quality and improve resiliency.

“By looking at your farm data through a profitability lens, you can better understand where you have financial risk in your farm operation. Developing a plan that minimizes that risk, while simultaneously increasing your profitability is the goal of precision conservation,” said Divan.

Divan works with farmers and their precision ag data to identify unprofitable acres within their operation and then helps them understand how laser-focused conservation programs on those “red” acres can improve their bottom line.
Webinar access instructions

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before 12 p.m. CST on Jan. 6:
    Click this URL, or type this web address into your internet browser:
    Or, go to and enter meeting ID: 364 284 172.
    Or, join from a dial-in phone line: Dial +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 876 9923; Meeting ID 364 284 172.

The webinar also will be recorded and archived on the ILF website, so that it can be watched at any time. Archived webinars are available at

A Certified Crop Adviser board-approved continuing education unit has been applied for, for those who are able to participate in the live webinar. Information about how to apply to receive the unit (if approved) will be provided at the end of the live webinar.

Anti-Meat Group Shows True Colors

Today, the head of an anti-meat extremist group posed as the CEO of a major pork producer during a national television interview, making outrageous and false claims about the U.S. pork industry and challenges it faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The following statement may be attributed to National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President Howard “AV” Roth:

“Taking advantage of this black swan event to drive an anti-meat, anti-livestock agriculture agenda is reprehensible. These radical extremist groups who typically work shrouded in secrecy and false identities – frequently while breaking the law – are only able to propagate their false narrative by hoodwinking journalists and posing as credible sources. Meanwhile, despite enormous challenges this year, hundreds of thousands of committed farmers and others employed in the pork production industry remain dedicated to keeping Americans and consumers around the world supplied with affordable, nutritious protein.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused record numbers of Americans to be food insecure. U.S. pork producers are proud to help feed those in need and these extremist groups should be ashamed of their stunts. Apparently there is no low for their actions.”

Record Low Veal and Lamb and Mutton Production for November

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.68 billion pounds in November, down 1 percent from the 4.74 billion pounds produced in November 2019.

Production by State  (mil .lbs - % Nov '19)

Nebraska ..............:        674.0             91       
Iowa .....................:        760.4             99       
Kansas ..................:        508.3            120       

Beef production, at 2.26 billion pounds, was 1 percent below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.70 million head, down 3 percent from November 2019. The average live weight was up 13 pounds from the previous year, at 1,388 pounds.

Veal production totaled 4.8 million pounds, 20 percent below November a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 35,000 head, down 25 percent from November 2019. The average live weight was up 14 pounds from last year, at 241 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.41 billion pounds, down 1 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 11.0 million head, down 3 percent from November 2019. The average live weight was up 6 pounds from the previous year, at 294 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 10.6 million pounds, was down 6 percent from November 2019. Sheep slaughter totaled 180,400 head, slightly below last year. The average live weight was 118 pounds, down 7 pounds from November a year ago.

January to November 2020 commercial red meat production was 50.8 billion pounds, up 1 percent from 2019. Accumulated beef production was down slightly from last year, veal was down 14 percent, pork was up 2 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 8 percent.

Retail MAP, Potash, Anhydrous Prices Jump 5%

Retail fertilizer prices were higher across the board for the third week of December 2020. It's the second week in a row that all eight major fertilizers were higher than the previous month.  

Three fertilizers were up a significant amount, which DTN designates as 5% or more. MAP, potash and anhydrous were all 7% more expensive compared to the prior month. MAP had an average price of $522/ton, up $34; potash $360/ton, up $24; and anhydrous $450/ton, up $28.

The remaining five fertilizers were all just slightly higher in price compared to the prior month. DAP had an average price of $466/ton, up $11; urea $361/ton, up $3; 10-34-0 $463/ton, up $8; UAN28 $210/ton, up $3; and UAN32 $253/ton, up $4.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.27/lb.N, UAN28 $0.38/lb.N and UAN32 $0.39/lb.N.

Retail fertilizer prices continue to be mostly lower in price from a year ago but there are a couple exceptions. DAP is 5% higher while MAP is 14% more expensive compared to last year.

10-34-0 is 1% less expensive, urea is 4% lower, potash is 5% less expensive, anhydrous is 8% lower, UAN32 is 9% less expensive and UAN28 is 12% lower from last year at this time.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 12/18/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending December 18, ethanol production expanded 2.0%, or 18,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 976,000 b/d—equivalent to 40.99 million gallons daily. Production remained 9.9% below the same week last year. The four-week average ethanol production rate ticked 0.4% lower to 974,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.93 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks grew 1.0% to a 30-week high of 23.2 million barrels, which was 7.9% above a year-ago. Inventories built across all regions except the Gulf Coast (PADD 3) and Rocky Mountains (PADD 4).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, lifted 0.6% to 8.02 million b/d (122.98 bg annualized). Gasoline demand was 13.8% less than a year ago.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol remained flat at 802,000 b/d, equivalent to 12.29 bg annualized. This was 14.5% below the year-earlier level as a result of the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the week. However, imports have been logged fifteen of the past 22 weeks. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of October 2020.)

RFA Marks Four Decades of Industry Leadership Association to Celebrate 40th Anniversary Throughout 2021

Forty years ago this month, a small group of innovative farmers and like-minded business leaders came together to officially found the Renewable Fuels Association. The overarching goal of the new trade group was as admirable as it was ambitious: grow production and demand for ethanol, a relatively unknown renewable fuel that was cleaner-burning, homegrown, and environmentally friendly.

Four decades later, the U.S. ethanol industry has grown into a thriving and dynamic renewable energy powerhouse, and RFA continues to build upon the vision, leadership, and ingenuity of its founders.

Through various publications and activities, RFA will celebrate its 40th anniversary all year long in 2021. The association will look back on the milestones of an industry that grew from just a handful of small plants in a few Corn Belt states to more than 200 sophisticated, high-tech biorefineries nationwide. Today’s ethanol industry supports almost 350,000 jobs and contributes more than $40 billion to the nation’s economy each year, a far cry from its humble beginnings.

“It’s no mistake that RFA has been nicknamed ‘the voice of the ethanol industry.’ In many ways, the story of RFA is the story of the ethanol industry itself,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “For 40 years, RFA has provided the strategy, expertise, and guidance needed to grow the market for cleaner, greener renewable fuels and make the dreams of our founders into a reality. In 2021, we look forward to celebrating four decades of unrivaled leadership and loyal service to our nation’s ethanol producers and the farmers who helped build this industry from the ground up.”

“It’s a pleasure and privilege to lead an organization that is, itself, a respected leader in the ag and energy fields, as well as among policymakers in Washington,” said RFA Chairperson Jeanne McCaherty, CEO of Guardian Energy in Minnesota. “With experience and a reputation honed over four decades of service, RFA continues to lead the way and guide the industry through these uncertain and unsettling times. I am proud of our members and staff for their exemplary dedication and look forward to celebrating this important milestone with them.”

The year-long anniversary celebration will provide an important history lesson on renewable fuels and the Renewable Fuels Association, with articles and digital media spotlighting the evolution of the industry and the essential role renewable fuels play in our everyday lives. Since 1980, when RFA got its start, U.S. ethanol production has grown nearly 16,000 percent, from about 100 million gallons to the record high of 16.1 billion in 2018. Over the course of those years, RFA has been the key to the industry’s success. Whether it is achieving groundbreaking legislative victories, providing crucial technical and scientific expertise, educating consumers, or serving as a trusted resource for media, the RFA has truly been ‘the voice of the industry’ for 40 years—and will continue to perform that crucial service for decades to come.

December 2020 Dairy Market Report Now Available

2020 continues to bring turbulent headwinds to dairy demand, which the industry has survived with heightened government support and robust export markets. Total domestic commercial use of dairy products posted a small gain during the August–October period, despite the pandemic’s renewed assault on food-service sales. Continued government purchases of dairy products through the Food Box, Section 32 and other programs added significantly to total sales during the period, strengthening milk and dairy product prices. Export growth remains striking, with year-to-date volumes showing a record portion of U.S. milk solids production going abroad.

The U.S. average all-milk price reported by USDA rose $2.30 per cwt from a month before to hit $20.20 per cwt in October. The monthly cheese price reached $2.45 per pound in November, a gain of 16 cents a pound from a month earlier, providing an indication that November’s all-milk price will top October’s.

Forecasts for 2021 are less certain than usual, with divergence between futures markets and government projections based largely on differing demand assumptions related to the course of the pandemic.

See the full report here:  

NCGA Recognizes Long-Serving Agriculture Committee Leaders

As the 117th Congress comes to a close, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is recognizing the tenure of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Mike Conaway, R-Texas. The three leaders will not be returning to elected office next Congress, taking a combined 86 years of experience and institutional knowledge of the legislative process with them.

Roberts was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980, representing Kansas’ “Big First” District for 16 years. He served as Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee from 1995-1997 where he oversaw passage of the 1996 Farm Bill. In 1996, he was elected to the U.S. Senate. He became Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman in 2015 and served as Ranking Member from 2011-2013. Roberts is the first member of Congress to have chaired both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, and also the first member of Congress to write and pass a Farm Bill in both chambers.

Throughout his career, Roberts successfully advocated to ensure that farmers and ranchers had the risk management tools needed to advance American agriculture and fought barriers to trade and regulations that threaten producers’ competitiveness.

Peterson was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the Seventh Congressional District of Minnesota in 1990. Since 2019, he has served as Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, a role he previously held from 2007-2011, overseeing passage of the 2008 Farm Bill. Peterson served as House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member from 2011-2019 and 2005-2007.

Peterson has been an advocate for farmers and small business owners, a strong proponent of conservation programs and a leader in promoting the use and production of biofuels.

Conaway was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004, representing Texas’ 11th Congressional District. Conaway served as House Agriculture Committee Chairman from 2015-2019, overseeing passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. Since 2019, he has served as House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member.

Conaway has been a vocal advocate for production agriculture, while protecting American taxpayer dollars and fixing ineffective and flawed programs.

The three Chairmen, along with former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., recently met to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the House Agriculture Committee, reflecting on their time leading the Committee.

NCGA is immensely grateful for the outgoing Chairmen’s commitment to America’s farmers and rural communities. The organization thanks them for their steadfast support and wishes them, their families, and staff the best in their future endeavors.

Part 1 of 4: Delving Into Ranch Group’s First Ever Cattle Producers’ Long-Range Plan

Last week R-CALF USA launched the first-ever “Cattle Industry Long Range Plan” completed by its 13-member board of directors who themselves are working cattle farmers and ranchers from across the United States directly impacted by market conditions pervading the entire U.S. cattle industry.

The plan fundamentally resets the live cattle industry’s role in the United States’ multi-segmented beef supply chain.  

“For decades live cattle producers subscribed to the theory that by exclusively focusing on building demand for beef harvested in the U.S., primarily by increasing beef exports, the competitive forces in the marketplace would properly allocate to them their competitive share of increased revenues,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

But Bullard said recent market events, particularly those that occurred in 2018, proved that theory false.

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported the nation’s four largest packers, “Tyson, JBS, Cargill, and National all reported record earnings citing strong beef demand, export demand, and availability of cattle as factors in making the year profitable.”

Indeed, the U.S. Meat Export Federation announced that beef exports “shattered” previous records in 2018, hitting all-time highs in both quantity and value. And, in late 2018 the Beef Checkoff Program’s Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association jointly announced that “beef demand is indeed strong,” with the 2018 retail demand index rising 15% above the level in January 2012.

“These indisputably favorable factors should have caused U.S. cattle producers to share in the packers’ increased revenues,” Bullard said adding, “But the opposite occurred: the 2018 price that U.S. cattle producers received for their fed cattle was over $4 per cwt lower than they were in 2017, and they fell even lower in 2019.”

R-CALF USA President Gerald Schreiber said it was this and other real-world shocks to their understanding of the marketplace that prompted the Board to draft a long-range plan that fundamentally shifts emphasis toward building demand specifically for their U.S. born and raised cattle, along with increasing demand for beef derived exclusively from their cattle that are born, raised, and harvested in the United States.

“The future of our U.S. cattle industry will depend on how well we, as actual working cattle producers, can work together to strengthen the cattle industry’s segment of the very profitable beef supply chain,” Schreiber said, adding “our new plan identifies the specific steps we must take to make that happen.”