Friday, January 31, 2020

Friday January 31 Cattle Inventory + Ag News


All cattle and calves in Nebraska as of January 1, 2020 totaled 6.80 million head, unchanged from January 1, 2019, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

All cows and heifers that had calved totaled 1.98 million head, down 1 percent from last year. 

Beef cows totaled 1.92 million head, down 1 percent from last year.

Milk cows totaled 58,000 head, down 2 percent from January 1, 2019.

All heifers 500 pounds and over totaled 1.91 million head, unchanged from last year.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 2.39 million head, up slightly from last year. 

Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 120,000 head, up 9 percent from last year. 

Calves under 500 pounds totaled 400,000 head, unchanged from January 1, 2019. 

All cattle on feed fed for slaughter in Nebraska feedlots totaled 2.60 million head, down 5 percent from the previous year. 

The 2019 calf crop totaled 1.80 million head, up 1 percent from 2018. 


All cattle and calves in Iowa as of January 1, 2020, totaled 3.90 million head, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle report. This was down 50,000 head from January 1, 2019. Beef cows, at 905,000 head, were down 25,000 head from last year. Milk cow inventory was down 5,000 head at 215,000 head.

All heifers 500 pounds and over were up 5 percent to 880,000 head. Heifers for beef cow replacement were down 6 percent from 2019 to 145,000 head; heifers for milk cow replacement, at 115,000 head, were down 8 percent from the previous year; and all other heifers were up 11 percent to 620,000 head.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over were down 5 percent from last year at 1.32 million head. Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over decreased 10,000 head to 60,000 head. Calves under 500 pounds on January 1, 2020, totaled 520,000 head, up 4 percent from last year. 

The 2019 calf crop was estimated at 1.08 million head, down 3 percent from the 2018 calf crop. Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter in all feedlots on January 1, 2020, totaled 1.29 million head, down 2 percent from one year ago.

January 1 Cattle Inventory Down Slightly

All cattle and calves in the United States as of January 1, 2020 totaled 94.4 million head, slightly below the 94.8 million head on January 1, 2019.

All cows and heifers that have calved, at 40.7 million head, were 1 percent below the 41.0 million head on January 1, 2019. Beef cows, at 31.3 million head, were down 1 percent from a year ago. Milk cows, at 9.33 million head, were down slightly from the previous year.

All heifers 500 pounds and over as of January 1, 2020 totaled 20.1 million head, slightly below the 20.2 million head on January 1, 2019. Beef replacement heifers, at 5.77 million head, were down 2 percent from a year ago. Milk replacement heifers, at 4.64 million head, were down 1 percent from the previous year. Other heifers, at 9.71 million head, were 1 percent above a year earlier.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over as of January 1, 2020 totaled 16.7 million head, down 1 percent from January 1, 2019.

Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over as of January 1, 2020 totaled 2.24 million head, down 1 percent from January 1, 2019.

Calves under 500 pounds as of January 1, 2020 totaled 14.7 million head, up 1 percent from January 1, 2019.

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for all feedlots totaled 14.7 million head on January 1, 2020. The inventory is up 2 percent from the January 1, 2019 total of 14.4 million head. Cattle on feed in feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head accounted for 81.5 percent of the total cattle on feed on January 1, 2020, up slightly from the previous year. The combined total of calves under 500 pounds and other heifers and steers over 500 pounds (outside of feedlots) at 26.4 million head, was slightly below January 1, 2019. 

Calf Crop Down 1 Percent

The 2019 calf crop in the United States was estimated at 36.1 million head, down 1 percent from last year's calf crop. Calves born during the first half of 2019 were estimated at 26.4 million head, down slightly from the first half of 2018. Calves born during the second half of 2019 were estimated at 9.71 million head, 27 percent of the total 2019 calf crop.


All sheep and lamb inventory in Nebraska on January 1, 2020 totaled 78,000 head, up 3,000 from last year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. 

Breeding sheep inventory totaled 67,000 head, up 3,000 from last year. Ewes one year and older totaled 55,000 head, up 2,000 from the previous year. Rams one year and older totaled 3,000, unchanged from last year. Total replacement lambs totaled 9,000 head, up 1,000 from last year.

Market sheep and lambs totaled 11,000 head, unchanged from last year. A total of 1,000 head were mature sheep (one year and older) while the remaining 10,000 were under one year. Market lamb weight groups were estimated as follows: 2,600 lambs were under 65 pounds; 1,300 were 65-84 pounds; 2,400 were 85-105 pounds; 3,700 were over 105 pounds. 

The 2019 lamb crop totaled 71,000 head, up 6,000 from 2018. The 2019 lambing rate was  134 per 100 ewes one year and older, compared with 118 in 2018.

Sheep deaths totaled 3,400 head, up 300 from last year. Lamb deaths totaled 9,000 head, up 1,500 from last year.

Sheep and lambs slaughtered on farm totaled 1,000 head, up 200 from last year.

Shorn wool production during 2019 was 440,000 pounds, up 30,000 from 2018. Sheep and lambs shorn totaled 61,000 head, up 3,000 from 2018. Weight per fleece was 7.2 pounds, up 0.1 from last year. The average price paid for wool sold in 2019 was $0.88 per pound, compared with $0.88 in 2018. The total value of wool produced in Nebraska was 387,000 dollars in 2019. 


All sheep and lambs inventory in Iowa as of January 1, 2020, totaled 151,000 head according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Sheep and Goats report.  The sheep and lambs inventory is down 2,000 head from last year.  Total breeding stock, at 108,000 head, was 5 percent above one year ago.  Market sheep and lambs dropped 14 percent from a year ago and totaled 43,000 head.  The lamb crop for 2019 increased 5 percent to 115,000 head.  Wool production for the State was 740,000 pounds, with fleece weights averaging 5.7 pounds.

January 1 Sheep and Lambs Inventory Down 1 Percent

All sheep and lambs inventory in the United States on January 1, 2020 totaled 5.20 million head, down 1 percent from 2019. Breeding sheep inventory at 3.81 million head on January 1, 2020, decreased slightly from 3.82 million head on January 1, 2019. Ewes one year old and older, at 2.98 million head, were 1 percent below last year. Market sheep and lambs on January 1, 2020 totaled 1.39 million head, down 1 percent from January 1, 2019. Market lambs comprised 94 percent of the total market inventory. Market sheep comprised the remaining 6 percent of total market inventory.

The 2019 lamb crop of 3.23 million head was down slightly from 2018. The 2019 lambing rate was 108 lambs per 100 ewes one year old and older on January 1, 2019, up 1 percent from 2018.

Shorn wool production in the United States during 2019 was 24.0 million pounds, down 2 percent from 2018. Sheep and lambs shorn totaled 3.32 million head, down 2 percent from 2018. The average price paid for wool sold in 2019 was $1.89 per pound for a total value of 45.4 million dollars, up 6 percent from 42.8 million dollars in 2018.

Sheep death loss during 2019 totaled 219 thousand head, up 1 percent from 2018. Lamb death loss was unchanged from last year at 388 thousand head.

Nebraska Beef Council Director Call for Candidates

The Nebraska Beef Council is seeking candidates in 5 districts to serve on the board of directors in 2021. The volunteer directors represent beef producers’ checkoff collections and investments on the state, national and international level. The board’s major responsibility is to oversee checkoff expenditures by determining promotion, research and education programs for checkoff investments. The term is four years and will begin on January 2, 2021.

Producers interested in becoming a beef council director are encouraged to visit with current and past directors to learn more about this valuable experience and its commitment.

Election packets are available beginning on February 1, 2020 and can be obtained by calling the NBC office at 800-421-5326. All candidate materials contained in the election packet must be completed and mailed to the third party office, postmarked by June 15, 2020.

Districts hosting an election in 2020:
District 1- Banner, Box Butte, Cheyenne, Dawes, Deuel, Garden, Kimball, Morrill, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, Sioux
District 3- Burt, Cedar, Cuming, Dakota, Dixon, Madison, Pierce, Stanton, Thurston, Wayne
District 5- Buffalo, Custer, Garfield, Greeley, Hall, Howard, Sherman, Valley
District 7- Butler, Cass, Colfax, Dodge, Douglas, Hamilton, Merrick, Nance, Platte, Polk, Sarpy, Saunders, Washington, York
District 9- Dawson, Franklin, Frontier, Furnas, Gosper, Harlan, Kearney, Phelps, Red Willow

For additional information, log onto or contact the Nebraska Beef Council office at 1-800-421-5326.

Burt Co Cattlemen Membership Meeting

February 12 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm   
Oakland Auditorium, Oakland, NE

Free Farm Finance and Ag Law Clinics this February

Free legal and financial clinics are being offered for farmers and ranchers at seven sites across the state in February 2020. The clinics are one-on-one meetings with an agricultural law attorney and an agricultural financial counselor. These are not group sessions, and they are confidential.

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

Clinic Sites and Dates
    Grand Island – Thursday, February 6th
    Norfolk – Thursday, February 13th
    North Platte – Thursday, February 13th
    Valentine – Friday, February 14th
    Lexington - Thursday, February 20th
    Fairbury – Friday, February 21st
    Norfolk – Tuesday, February 25th

To sign up for a free clinic or to get more information, call the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.

Funding for this work is provided by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Legal Aid of Nebraska, North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center, and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

2020 Beef Feedlot Roundtables

Feb. 20, 2020 - Nielsen Community Center - West Point NE

Topics include safety & health of employees, roller compacted concrete options for open lots, fly ash for open pens, feedyard pen repair & maintenance, and sustainable beef efforts.

12:30 - Registrations/Welcome
1:00 - Improving Safety and Health of Employees - Aaron Yoder, Ag and Occupational Health, UNMC; UNL Extension

1:30 - Roller Compacted Concrete Options for Open Lots - Cody Metheral, Alberta Agri-Environmental Extension
1:50 - Use of Fly Ash for Open Pens - Bryan Woodbury, Research Ag Engineer, ARS, US MARC
2:10 - Feedyard Pen Repair & Pen Maintenance - Rick Stowell, UNL Extension Specialist

3:00 - New and Relevant Information Impacting Sustainability of Beef Production - Robin White, Virginia Tech University
3:30 - US Roundtable for Sustainable Beef efforts, Application to Nebraska - Rick Koelsch, UNL Extension Specialist
4:00 - UNL Research Update: Water, Shade, Liver abscesses, Implants -     Galen Erickson, UNL Feedlot Extension Specialist
4:30 - Adjourn

Pre-rgistration is requested by Friday, February 14. Please pre-register by phone, email, mail, or online at Cost is $20 at the door if pre-registered and $30 for walk-ins. Call Larry Howard at the Cuming County Extension office at 402-372-6006, or email 

Nebraska Cattlemen Selects Legislative Priorities

Nebraska Cattlemen’s (NC) Board of Directors met this week in Lincoln for their annual legislative meeting. NC’s six policy committees brought attention to bills and resolutions recently introduced in the Nebraska Legislature that are of interest to Nebraska beef producers.

Under close review and in accordance with NC Policy, the Board of Directors considered and took positions on 62 pieces of legislation and choose three bills as priorities for the 2020 legislative session: LB 1200, LB 974, and LB 802.

After much discussion from membership and leadership on current Nebraska brand law, NC took a supportive stance and prioritized LB 1200. This legislation, brought forth by Senator Tom Brewer of Gordon, would adopt several recommendations from the Nebraska Brand Committee pertaining to mandatory brand inspection and other issues. NC is opposing LB 1165, introduced by Senator John Stinner of Gering, which would eliminate the Nebraska Brand Committee and transfer its duties to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

NC’s Board of Directors again highlighted property tax relief as a top issue for the 2020 session, designating LB 974 as a priority bill. LB 974, introduced by the Legislature’s Revenue Committee, would lower valuations for the purpose of calculating K-12 property taxes while kickstarting school aid to rural school districts. NC policy supports these changes, as our members strongly believe the state must pursue a more balanced approach to school funding that relieves the burden on local property taxpayers.

Lastly, NC prioritized LB 802, introduced by Senator Dan Hughes of Venango. LB 802 provides that under Nebraska Law, an individual or entity must own the overlying land in order to use the accompanying groundwater. This legislation is in contrast to other states like Colorado, which allow water rights to be sold separately, similar to mineral rights. This system has caused considerable challenges for livestock producers in those states.

“Leadership diligently sifted through all legislation that pertains to Nebraska Cattlemen policy. Taking positions and making priorities helps give our leadership and staff direction and focus at the Capitol. The three pieces made priority are important matters to our members.” said Bill Rhea, Chairman of NC Legislative Committee.


Keith Berns, chair, has scheduled a meeting of the Healthy Soils Task Force for Thursday, February 6, 2020. The meeting will begin at 1:00 p.m. at the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, 301 Centennial Mall South, 4th Floor, Lincoln, NE 68509.

Task Force members will be discussing next steps in developing a healthy soils initiative and action plan for the state of Nebraska.

For an agenda and more details, call the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at (402) 471-2341 or visit

Preparing the Financial Budget Workshop

Dairy Extension is hosting a financial budget workshop for new and beginning farmers on February 24 in Columbus at the Platte County Extension Office located at  2715 13th St., Columbus, NE 68601

8:30 am: Registration
9:00 am: Financial budget projection
(Part 1): Introduction, Revenues, and Feeding Costs
10:45 am: Break
11:00 am: Financial budget projection
(Part 2): Forages, Reproduction, Herd Health, Utilities, Labor, etc
12:30 pm: Lunch
1:15 pm: Financial budget projection (Part 3): Closing the budget
2:00 pm: Break
2:15 pm: Financial Analyses: Financial Needs and Sensitivity
3:00 pm: Wrap-up & conclusion

    Understand and estimate budget projections.
    Evaluate input costs related to the budget.
    Analyze the farm budget and budget projections.

    Pre-registration is requested by February 19
    Registration is $25 and includes course materials and lunch
        *NSDA members receive one paid registration per farm.
    Register using the link below: or by calling Kim Clark at 402-472-6065 or emailing

    The workshop is limited to 30 participants
    This workshop will give you a hands-on opportunity to prepare financial budgets for your farm
    Participants are encouraged to bring their laptops

For more information contact, Kim Clark at 402-472-6065 or 


Nebraska USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) is reminding livestock producers of an approaching deadline for the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). Producers who filed a LIP Notice of Loss with FSA for livestock losses due to natural disaster in 2019 have until Monday, March 2, to supply appropriate supporting paperwork and complete the application for payment, if they haven’t done so already.

In some cases the county FSA office may be waiting on the producer to supply documentation to support the application, such as records that show beginning or ending inventory figures or records that indicate number of head lost.

Producers with questions regarding the status of their 2019 LIP application should call their county FSA office as soon as possible for information.

Green Line Equipment, Stutheit Implement, and Plains Equipment Group Announce A Merger of John Deere Dealerships

Three Nebraska based John Deere dealerships announced plans to merge their businesses.  Green Line Equipment, Stutheit Implement, and Plains Equipment Group are combining forces to provide leading service, support, and product solutions to farmers, ranchers, and landowners. The newly formed corporation named AKRS Equipment Solutions (“AKRS Equipment”) symbolizes trust, commitment, and innovation in agriculture. The companies plan to officially close on the deal by the end of March 2020.

“The common cultures and values of these three companies and how they serve their customers is really something special,” said Russ Rerucha, the newly appointed Chairman of the Board.  The three companies have a long-standing history of exceptional customer support and service.

“We are large enough to provide the newest technologies and services to our customers, but small enough to care,” said Stan Stutheit, the previous owner of Stutheit Implement.  With over 150 years of collective service, the companies are proud to be part of their communities.

AKRS will consist of 27 John Deere dealerships located across Nebraska and part of Kansas with headquarters in Lincoln, NE. AKRS Equipment aspires to be the Midwest’s Premier John Deere dealership, bringing a wide selection of new and used equipment to farms, ranches, and small businesses. AKRS dealerships will be in the following locations:
                 Broken Bow
                 Central City
                 David City
                 Grand Island
                 North Platte
                 St. Paul
                 Lincoln Headquarters

Kevin Clark has been named President and Chief Executive Officer of AKRS Equipment.  Mr. Clark is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Plains Equipment Group.  “The size and scale of AKRS is important as the industry changes with new technologies and services,” Clark said.  “The combination of these businesses will allow us to serve our customers now and into the future with the rapidly evolving challenges in our industry.”

USDA Encourages Producers to Enroll Now in Key Safety Net Programs

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Nebraska State Executive Director Nancy Johner reminds agricultural producers to sign up now for the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs. The deadline to choose between ARC or PLC and complete enrollment for the 2019 crop year is March 16, 2020.

“By making an appointment now, producers can beat the rush and get the process completed before focusing on spring planting,” Johner said. “Producers who complete the ARC and PLC election and enrollment process now, ahead of the deadline, will still have until March 16 to come back and make changes, if necessary.”

ARC and PLC provide financial protections to farmers from substantial drops in crop prices or revenues and are vital economic safety nets for most American farms.

“Contacting FSA as soon as possible to make an appointment and preparing ahead of time to make a definitive ARC or PLC election will help expedite the enrollment process and ensure FSA meets your customer service expectations,” said Johner.

To assist with the decision-making process, informational resources are available at Producers also can access where information under the “Spotlights” section includes a webinar that provides ARC and PLC information shared at recent public meetings held across Nebraska.

USDA Reminds Producers of Feb. 28 Deadline for Conservation Reserve Program General Signup

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds agricultural producers interested in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) 2020 general signup to enroll by February 28, 2020. This signup is available to farmers and private landowners who are either enrolling for the first time or re-enrolling for another 10- to 15-year term.

“This is the first opportunity for general sign up since 2016, and we want producers and private landowners to know that we have just one month remaining,” FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. “It is critical that they make their final determinations and submit offers very soon to take advantage of this popular conservation program.”

Farmers and ranchers who enroll in CRP receive yearly rental payments for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as “covers”), which can control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands.

CRP has 22 million acres enrolled, but the 2018 Farm Bill lifted the cap to 27 million acres.

Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the U.S. It was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion and potentially stabilize commodity prices by taking marginal lands out of production. The program has evolved over the years, providing many conservation and economic benefits. Marking its 35th anniversary in 2020, CRP has had many successes, including:
·         Preventing more than 9 billion tons of soil from eroding, enough soil to fill 600 million dump trucks;
·         Reducing nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to annually tilled cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively;
·         Sequestering an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking 9 million cars off the road;
·         Creating more than 3 million acres of restored wetlands while protecting more than 175,000 stream miles with riparian forest and grass buffers, enough to go around the world 7 times; and
·         Benefiting bees and other pollinators and increased populations of ducks, pheasants, turkey, bobwhite quail, prairie chickens, grasshopper sparrows and many other birds.

The CRP continuous signup is ongoing, which enables producers to enroll for certain practices. FSA plans to open the Soil Health and Income Protection Program, a CRP pilot program, in early 2020, and the 2020 CRP Grasslands signup runs from March 16, 2020 to May 15, 2020.

To enroll in CRP, contact your local FSA county office or visit

Bacon Named Nebraska Farm Bureau “Friend of Agriculture”

U.S. Rep. Don Bacon has been designated a “Friend of Agriculture” by NEFB-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee. Bacon, who is seeking re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, received the designation based on a long-track record of support for Nebraska farm and ranch families, according to Nebraska Farm Bureau First Vice President Mark McHargue, who chairs the NEFB-PAC.

“Congressman Bacon clearly understands the importance of agriculture to our state’s economy and has demonstrated that time and again. Despite having a largely urban district, he’s made every effort to serve all his constituents, including farm families,” said McHargue. “Whether in Washington, D.C. or here at home, he consistently goes out of his way to meet with our members to keep on top of the issues that matter to them.”

As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, Bacon proved instrumental in helping craft the 2018 Farm Bill that protected critical farm programs such as crop insurance, conservation programs, trade promotion programs, and agriculture research. Bacon has also demonstrated support for Nebraska’s livestock sector by advocating for mandatory funding in the farm bill for the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program to help address livestock disease issues.

Bacon has also been an ardent supporter of expanding markets for Nebraska agriculture products into the international marketplace, offering strong support for the passage of the United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“We are fortunate to have Congressman Bacon working in Washington, D.C. and we thank him not only for supporting farm and ranch families, but for helping give them a voice on key issues. We are pleased to designate him as a ‘Friend of Agriculture’ as he seeks re-election to represent the 2nd District,” said McHargue.

Smith Earns Nebraska Farm Bureau “Friend of Agriculture” Designation

U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith has been designated a “Friend of Agriculture” by NEFB-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee. Smith, who is seeking re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives in Nebraska’s 3rd Congressional District, received the designation based on his work on several policy issues of high priority to Nebraska farmers and ranchers, according to Nebraska Farm Bureau First Vice President Mark McHargue, who chairs the NEFB-PAC.

“Serving in a leadership position on the House Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Smith has given Nebraska’s farm and ranch families an influential voice in tax, trade, and health care issues, all important to our members,” said McHargue.

In that capacity, Smith played an instrumental role in helping deliver the first major revisions to the federal tax code in more than 30 years. As a part of that effort, he helped ensure Nebraska farmers and ranchers would be able to continue to fully deduct their property taxes on their federal tax return.

McHargue says Smith also received the designation based on his ongoing efforts to increase access for U.S. agriculture products into global markets including directly representing agriculture during the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement; newly approved as the United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“With one out of every three U.S. farm acres planted for export and roughly 31 percent of U.S. gross farm income coming directly from exports to foreign countries, international trade is critical to farmers and ranchers. Congressman Smith understands that and has championed efforts to grow markets for our agriculture products,” said McHargue.

Smith has also championed efforts to reduce unwarranted regulations on Nebraska farmers and ranchers that needlessly increase the costs of doing business, in addition to supporting the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

“Today we have a new Clean Water Rule that works for the environment and for farmers and ranchers. That wouldn’t have happened without his efforts to stop the 2015 ‘Waters of the U.S.’ Rule,” said McHargue. “He’s also been a staunch supporter of renewable fuels and pushed the EPA to do the right thing in meeting biofuel blend levels as directed by Congress.”

“We appreciate what Congressman Smith has done to serve Nebraska’s farm and ranch families and are proud to count him among those receiving our ‘Friend of Agriculture’ designation,” said McHargue.


Corn farmers from across the country traveled to Washington this week to take part in the second phase of the annual Leadership Academy sponsored by NCGA. While in town, the group visited numerous congressional leaders and got an inside look at parliamentary procedure and how lobbying works on Capitol Hill.

“For three decades, our leadership programs have played an important role in helping corn growers become leaders at the state and national level,” said Kevin Ross, NCGA president and a LAIB graduate himself. “In Washington, our farmer leaders saw firsthand how decisions made in our nation’s capital impact us all back on our farms. Using the skills developed here, these farmer-leaders’ voices will benefit NCGA and all of agriculture through their current and future endeavors. NCGA will continue to invest in making our leaders the most effective they can be as they are a critical piece in keeping positive corn policies at the forefront in D.C. and state politics.”

The Leadership Academy class received briefings on the issues facing America’s farmers in the coming year followed by presentations from lobbyist and Hill staffer panels explaining how the lobbying process functions in Washington, D.C. to get the best result from interaction with members of Congress and their staff. They then had the opportunity to see the process in action during a series of visits with congressional leaders.

This advanced leadership class, co-sponsored by Syngenta and now named Leadership At Its Best also met in Washington for a second session that also included intensive training and learning opportunities in Raleigh, N.C. In addition to exploring important topical briefings from a multi-organization team of staff experts, the group underwent extensive, high-level media training and met with representatives in the House and Senate. This program, which builds upon the skill set developed through Leadership Academy, has played an integral role in developing top-notch association leadership in a multi-association class that builds bonds that facilitate future success.

This year’s Leadership Academy class includes: Greg Alber (Iowa); Les Anderson (Minn.), Russell Braun (Mich.); Courtney Drew (N.D.); James Giese (Wis.); J.D. Hanna (Kan.); Robert Hanson (N.D.); Carl Jardon (Iowa); Grant Rix (S.D.); Brent Rogers (Kan.); Matt Rush (Ill.); Dave Rylander (Ill.); Kyle Speich (N.D.); Tim Waibel (Minn.); and Addie Yoder (Mo.).

The current Leadership At Its Best class members affiliated with NCGA include: Mike Berget (Wisc.); Troy Schneider (Colo.); Randy Melvin (N.D.); Dave Merrell (Neb.); Mark Recker (Iowa); Jay Reiners (Neb.); James “J.R.” Roesner (Ind.); and Dan Wesley (Neb.).

Seven States Introduce Legislation Banning Consumer’s option to purchase Animals from Pet Stores
Could Livestock Sale Barns Be Next?

Legislation has been introduced in seven state legislatures which would completely prohibit the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits. To date, these states include Washington, Colorado, New Hampshire, New York, Florida, and Virginia.

These pet sale bans impose serious health and safety risks in these states by directing consumers to source their family pet from shelters and rescues which are exempt from regulatory oversight that is required of breeders who source animals in pet stores.

Unlike pet stores, shelters and rescues do not typically carry general liability insurance to protect their consumers which is an insurance nightmare waiting to happen, especially with the influx of nearly 1 million dogs imported each year to the U.S. from foreign countries to fill our shelters.

Banning the sale of animals in pet stores sets a dangerous precedent and opens the barn door wide open for animal rights groups to introduce legislation in the future to ban the sale of livestock animals in sale barns, live animal auctions, or livestock shows.

Mindy Patterson, President of The Cavalry Group, stated, “These bans on the sale of animals in pet stores are crafted and driven by animal rights groups with an emotionally based agenda while lawmakers sign on to carry these bans either without realizing the true agenda behind the legislation or they are willing accomplices to the animal rights agenda.”

The Cavalry Group is a private member-based company working to protect and advance the Constitutional and private property rights of law-abiding animal owners, animal-related businesses, and agricultural concerns legally, legislatively, culturally, and in the media nationwide. For more information visit

Higher Limits Now Available on USDA Farm Loans

Higher limits are now available for borrowers interested in USDA's farm loans, which help agricultural producers purchase farms or cover operating expenses. The 2018 Farm Bill increased the amount that producers can borrow through direct and guaranteed loans available through USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) and made changes to other loans, such as microloans and emergency loans.

Key changes include:

** The Direct Operating Loan limit increased from $300,000 to $400,000, and the Guaranteed Operating Loan limit increased from $ 1.429 million to $1.776 million. Operating loans help producers pay for normal operating expenses, including machinery and equipment, seed, livestock feed, and more.

** The Direct Farm Ownership Loan limit increased from $300,000 to $600,000, and the Guaranteed Farm Ownership Loan limit increased from $1.429 million to $1.776 million. Farm ownership loans help producers become owner-operators of family farms as well as improve and expand current operations.

** Producers can now receive both a $50,000 Farm Ownership Microloan and a $50,000 Operating Microloan. Previously, microloans were limited to a combined $50,000. Microloans provide flexible access to credit for small, beginning, niche, and non-traditional farm operations.

** Producers who previously received debt forgiveness as part of an approved FSA restructuring plan are now eligible to apply for emergency loans. Previously, these producers were ineligible.

** Beginning and socially disadvantaged producers can now receive up to a 95 percent guarantee against the loss of principal and interest on a loan, up from 90 percent.

Direct farm loans, which include microloans and emergency loans, are financed and serviced by FSA, while guaranteed farm loans are financed and serviced by commercial lenders. For guaranteed loans, FSA provides a guarantee against possible financial loss of principal and interest.

For more information on FSA farm loans, visit or contact your local USDA service center.

Reynolds, Naig Urge USDA to Revive Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig submitted joint comments to USDA voicing support for the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). The federal HBIIP would provide grant funding to support investments in renewable fuels infrastructure.

“Despite Iowa’s success with biofuels so far, our state is just getting started,” Gov. Reynolds said in her letter. “The USDA’s willingness to recognize the potential to build on BIP’s successes with HBIIP is highly encouraging. We are confident that if the State of Iowa’s proposed expansion of RFIP is met with a federal commitment to HBIIP for both biodiesel and ethanol, we can accelerate the adoption of biofuels, supporting the environment and rural communities while we do it.”

“An investment in renewable fuels is an investment for all Iowans. Renewable fuels benefit Iowa farmers, jobs in rural communities and give consumers access to affordable, cleaner-burning fuels,” said Secretary Naig. “With funding and support from USDA, we can continue building upon the success of the state’s Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program by adding more E15 and biodiesel blends at local fueling stations, giving Iowans more choices at the pump.”

The comment letter and technical feedback can be viewed at

Iowa is one of a handful of states with a standing appropriation for a Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program (RFIP). The RFIP helps the operators of motor fuel dispensing sites or fueling stations to convert their equipment to allow the expanded use of renewable fuels in Iowa.

Since its inception, the RFIP has awarded $35.26 million in state dollars for biofuels infrastructure projects. The private sector has responded to the RFIP by investing over $200 million in these renewable fuels infrastructure projects.

NBB Supports USDA Inclusion of Biodiesel in Infrastructure Program

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) today released comments in response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's request for information on the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). NBB expressed the biodiesel industry's gratitude for inclusion in the program, since the infrastructure needs for biodiesel, renewable diesel, Bioheat®, and sustainable aviation fuel are different from those of other biofuels.

"The biodiesel industry is grateful for the opportunity to be included in this program," NBB states in the comments. "As USDA moves forward, we ask that the department be inclusive of all infrastructure opportunities that would increase the use of biodiesel, including Bioheat and sustainable aviation fuel. In order to ensure the best return on dollars spent and facilitate true growth, we ask that USDA emphasize investments where there is either an existing or emerging market."

Kurt Kovarik, NBB's VP of Federal Affairs, added, "We thank USDA and administration leaders for following through on President Trump's pledge to support infrastructure projects that facilitate higher biofuel blends. American consumers are increasingly demanding access to clean, low-carbon, advanced biofuels, like biodiesel. We look forward to working with USDA to strengthen the market for higher blends of biodiesel, renewable diesel, Bioheat® and sustainable aviation fuels."

USDA's Rural Business-Cooperative Service and Commodity Credit Corporation are exploring options to expand U.S. biodiesel and ethanol availability through infrastructure projects to facilitate increased sales of biofuel blends, including B20 and higher. The effort aims to build on the Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership (BIP), which from 2016 to 2019 expanded infrastructure for higher ethanol blends.

In its comments, NBB asked USDA to focus the program on investments in strategic terminals, pipeline storage and rail expansion to create broader downstream capacity to sell more gallons: "Investments would be best served on opportunities that would afford the greatest additional volumes of biodiesel (references to biodiesel include Bioheat and sustainable aviation fuel) to enter the marketplace. The greatest barriers to biodiesel distribution are at the terminal and pipeline terminal level, as well as rail to reach distribution centers."

Growth Energy offers expert insight into new Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program

Growth Energy, the nation’s largest ethanol association, has submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) request for information on biofuel infrastructure priorities. Having previously worked with USDA and Prime the Pump on the original Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership (BIP), Growth Energy is well-positioned and pleased to provide USDA with their expert insight on the new Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). 

“We commend USDA and this administration for their swift action and are pleased to submit our comments on the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “In the last decade, Growth Energy and Prime the Pump have led the way in growing the offerings of higher ethanol blends to over 2,000 retailers across the nation, and our historical knowledge of this program and blueprint for success is unmatched. We are committed to the successful implementation of HBIIP to expand access to cleaner-burning, higher octane Unleaded88 at the pump, delivering a win for consumers, farmers, and the environment.”


The USDA announced on Jan. 16, 2020 they were seeking input from all interested parties on a Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). USDA is exploring options to expand domestic ethanol and biodiesel availability and is seeking information on opportunities to consider infrastructure projects to facilitate increased sales of higher biofuel blends (E15/B20 or higher.) This effort will build on biofuels infrastructure investments and experience gained through the Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership (BIP). USDA administered BIP from 2016-2019 through state and private partners to expand the availability of E15 and E85 infrastructure to make available higher ethanol blends at retail gas stations around the country.

THE BEEF CHECKOFF: Exports and Imports Help Bring Value to Our Industry

Greg Hanes, CEO, Cattlemen’s Beef Board

Beef exports and imports are certainly a challenging topic to tackle for American cattle farmers and ranchers, but they are an integral part of our beef industry here in the United States.

At first glance, the idea of importing foreign beef into the U.S. may strike cattlemen and women here as a curious practice. If we grow arguably the best beef in the world in this country, why bring in more? The reason lies in the types of beef we Americans love to eat – mainly steaks and ground beef. In fact, CattleFax estimates that over 51% of the beef consumed in the United States is ground beef. 

Steaks are high-demand, high-value cuts, and consumers are willing to pay higher prices for them. This is great because it brings more value to the cutout. However, American consumers also love hamburgers, and most of those hamburgers are consumed at fast food restaurants at low prices. Since American farmers and ranchers are producing more Prime- and Choice-graded beef these days, the value of the non-steak cuts, due to global demand, is higher than the value of hamburger. So, rather than grind them into burgers, we can export them for a premium.

However, in order to meet that domestic demand for inexpensive, fast food hamburgers, we need to import beef. Despite what you might visualize imported beef to be, most of the beef we bring into the U.S. is lean trim, not muscle cuts for sale at retail. In conversations I’ve had with industry experts, most estimate that at least 90% of our imports are inexpensive lean trim or manufacturing beef that is then ground with fat (something we produce but consumers don’t buy outright) from our corn-fed animals to produce all those fast food hamburgers at cheap prices for hungry American consumers.

At the same time, we export other beef cuts (which could have been ground) and variety meats (which we don’t like to eat here) to other markets around the world. Those markets have a high demand for those cuts, so we can then receive top dollar back for those items.  For example, short plate could be ground and get about $1.50 per pound here, but because it's a high-demand item in Japan, they will pay double that price per pound. Assuming each short plate weighs 15 pounds, the United States Meat Export Federation (USMEF) estimates that one item is adding about $22.50 of value per head. Tongues are another great example.  No one I know around here grills them up on the weekend! Demand for those is low, only fetching about $1.00 per pound here in the United States. But in Japan, every person I know loves to grill tongue, so they pay more than $5.50 per pound there. That adds another $13.00 per head.

This happens with other cuts in other countries as well, helping to add value – especially to low-demand items in the U.S. According to CattleFax, the amount of beef we imported compared to the amount of beef we exported last year is expected to be about the same (final 2019 figures will be released in February). However, and this is very key, the value of our exported beef is estimated to be about $1.3 billion higher.

In a nutshell, we are meeting the desires of consumers with the beef they want to purchase, wherever they are in the world. The global competition for these cuts helps us get the best prices possible and boosts demand for our cattle.

Next time, we’ll discuss the role the Beef Checkoff plays in imports and exports. 

R-CALF USA to Challenge Ruling in Checkoff Case; Ruling Affirms Progress Already Made in Reforming Checkoff

On Wednesday, the magistrate judge assigned to R-CALF USA's lawsuit alleging the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) operation of the beef checkoff program violates the constitutional rights of U.S. cattle producers issued his findings and recommendations.

The magistrate judge essentially found that while the USDA has been violating the Constitution in its operation of the beef checkoff program, the agency took steps to correct its violation after, and in direct response to, R-CALF USA's lawsuit.

A key issue in the case is whether the speech of the 15 state beef checkoff councils, which cattle producers finance through their mandatory checkoff dollars, is private speech or government speech. R-CALF USA's position is that the 15 state beef councils are private corporations expressing private speech and compelling cattle producers to fund that speech is unconstitutional.

According to R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard, the USDA and the 15 private state beef councils realized they had been caught violating the constitutional rights of cattle producers and scrambled to correct their violation.

Bullard said their strategy, which unfolded well after the lawsuit was filed, was an attempt to convert the council's heretofore private speech into government speech, in hopes they could correct their decades-long violation of the Constitution. To accomplish this, the USDA entered into contractual agreements called memorandums of understandings (MOUs) with each of the 15 state beef councils. The MOUs purportedly give the federal government control over each of the 15 state beef councils.     

The magistrate judge then found that because of these recently executed MOUs with each of the 15 state beef councils, the speech of those councils is now the government's speech and no longer that of private corporations.

"We continue to disagree that the execution of these 15 MOUs is sufficient to remedy the USDA's 30-plus years of violating the Constitution," said Bullard adding, "We will now submit our formal objections to the U.S. federal court judge and trust he will analyze this issue carefully."

Bullard said that despite this setback, there is no question that his group's lawsuit has achieved reforms over the beef checkoff's operations.

"What our lawsuit also caused was the USDA's issuance of a final rule that allows cattle producers in every state to redirect their mandatory checkoff dollars away from the state beef councils that continue to use their money to fund the activities of third parties, like the NCBA (National Cattlemen's Beef Association) and the USMEF (U.S. Meat Export Federation), two entities that continually lobby for the consolidation of the U.S. cattle industry," Bullard concluded.

Thursday January 30 Ag News


There are many benefits to utilizing cover crops, such as improved soil health and reduced erosion, but the details can present challenges. The Nebraska Cover Crop and Soil Health Conference will provide information to growers who are just getting started with cover crops and to those who have already made them part of their operation.

The conference is 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Feb. 13 at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

“This year’s conference will focus on establishment of cover crops in corn and soybeans during the growing season,” said Keith Glewen, Nebraska Extension educator. “Inter-seeding in some manner is gaining interest throughout the Midwest. We will have boots-on-the-ground growers who will share specific information about their successes and failures.”

Topics and presenters include:

> “Growing a Revolution: Finding the Right Fit with Cover Crops,” Abbey Wick, North Dakota State University;

> “Farming with 2020 Vision in Mind,” Loran Steinlage, FLOLO Farms, West Union, Iowa;

> “Selling Seed in Nebraska,” Steve Knox, director, Nebraska Crop Improvement Association;

> “Accelerating Soil Health Adoption by Quantifying Economic and Environmental Outcomes and Overcoming Barriers on Rented Lands,” Brian Brandt, director of ag conservation innovations, American Farmland Trust, Columbus, Ohio;

> “Review of Cover Crop Demonstrations in Central Platte NRD,” Dean Krull, farmer and University of Nebraska–Lincoln research technologist;

> “Understanding Soil Health, Measuring Success and Reducing Risk,” Aaron Hird, state soil health specialist, and Noah Seim, Merrick County farmer;

> “Thoughts from a First-Year Inter-seeder and Why You Should Give It a Try,” Jay Goertzen, Henderson farmer, and Jennifer Rees, Nebraska Extension educator;

> “Cover Crops by Helicopter: FAQ,” Brent Wulf, owner and chief pilot, Hexagon Helicopters Inc.;

> Cover crop panel — discussion with growers, landowners and consultants.

There is no fee to attend, but participants are asked to pre-register by 4:30 p.m. Feb. 7 at to ensure resource materials are available and for meal-planning purposes. Seating is limited. Additional conference information and directions are available at the website above. Those with questions can call 402-624-8030 or email

This year’s conference is sponsored by Nebraska Extension, the Nebraska Soybean Board, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, the Lower Platte North Natural Resources District and the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.

USDA to Gauge Financial Well-Being of Nebraska Farmers and Ranchers

In late December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) began gathering information about farm economics and production practices from farmers and ranchers across Nebraska, as the agency conducts the third and final phase of the 2019 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS). 

“ARMS is the only survey that measures the current financial well-being of Nebraska producers and their households as a whole,” said Nick Streff, director of NASS’s Northern Plains Region. “The results of this survey will help inform decisions on local and federal policies and programs that affect Nebraska farms and farm families.”

In an effort to obtain the most accurate data, NASS will reach out to more than 30,000 producers nationwide, including over 1,500 in Nebraska, between December and April. The survey asks producers to provide in-depth information about their operating revenues, production costs, and household characteristics. The 2019 survey focuses on costs associated with producing agricultural commodities, with a special version focusing on sorghum sector costs and returns.

“In February, our interviewers will begin reaching out to those farmers who have not yet responded,” said Streff “We appreciate their time and are here to help them with the questionnaire so that their information will continue supporting sound agricultural decisionmaking.”

In addition to producing accurate information, NASS has strong safeguards in place to protect the confidentiality of all farmers who respond to its surveys. The agency will only publish data in an aggregate form, ensuring the confidentiality of all responses and that no individual respondent or operation can be identified. 

The expense data gathered in ARMS will be published in the annual Farm Production Expenditures report on July 31, 2020.  That report and others are available at More reports based on ARMS data and more information about ARMS are available at


Agricultural Custom Operators Invited to Participate in the 2020 Nebraska Custom Rates Survey

Glennis McClure, NE Extension Educator - Farm and Ranch Management Analytics

Nebraska Extension’s 2020 custom rates survey is seeking participation from anyone in Nebraska who performs custom machine hire or contracts for specific farm services.

Interested participants should submit their information at to receive the survey by email. Printed copy may be requested by calling 402-472-0661.

The annual publication reflects current rates charged by custom operators for machine hire services and other work they provide for neighboring farms and ranches or as part of a business enterprise that covers a broader area. It includes spring and summer operations such as tillage, planting and haying in part one. The second part surveys operators that provide custom machine hire typically done in the fall, including grain harvest, hauling, cutting ensilage, hauling livestock and other miscellaneous operations.

Results from the 2020 survey will be published by mid-2020. Custom rate information in Nebraska is grouped in the report by the eight Nebraska Agricultural Statistics Districts.

 Madison County Bank pledges $25,000 to Northeast’s Nexus agriculture and water project

A local bank founded to help develop the area more than 130 years ago is continuing that tradition with an investment in the Nexus project at Northeast Community College.

Jeff Warnemunde, president of Madison County Bank, said the bank is honored to be a part of the project and to invest in the future of agriculture education in Nebraska.

“The Nexus project to build new ag facilities at Northeast Community College is a great opportunity,” Warnemunde said, “right in the center of the communities we serve.”

The bank has pledged $25,000 to the project.

Madison County Bank was founded in 1888 to finance homes and businesses for residents of the area. The bank now has offices in Albion, Creighton, Madison, Norfolk, Plainview, Randolph and Winside. A second location in Norfolk, under construction on North 13th Street, is expected to open in May.

Warnemunde said Madison County Bank is owned by more than 1,000 residents of the communities the business serves.

“The bank has always been about the local community and all of our loans are made to local people and companies. Our main industry is agricultural finance,” Warnemunde explained. “Over 70-percent of our loans are direct loans to farmers, so agriculture is an enormous part of what our company is dedicated to.”

Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Community College Foundation, said the $25,000 investment by Madison County Bank will help train agricultural producers and agribusiness employees for area communities.

“We hope to break ground late this spring on the first three Nexus priorities,” Kruse said. “More contributions are needed to fully fund this project and I encourage anyone with an interest in agriculture or education to consider making an investment now.”

Funding for the $23 million Agriculture & Water Center for Excellence project is currently being solicited to enhance and expand the agriculture facilities at Northeast Community College. In addition to the College’s commitment of $10 million, Northeast is seeking at least $13 million in private funds to begin the initial phase of construction, which includes a new veterinary technology clinic and classrooms, a new farm site with a large animal handling facility and other farm structures for livestock operations, a farm office and storage. The new facilities will be located near the Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex on E. Benjamin Ave. in Norfolk.

In August, the Acklie Charitable Foundation (ACF) announced a $5 million lead gift to the Nexus project. ACF was founded by the late Duane Acklie and Phyllis Acklie, both Madison County natives and graduates of Norfolk Junior College, a predecessor institution of Northeast Community College.

For more information on the Nexus Campaign, contact Kruse, at, or call (402) 844-7056. Online donations may be made through

NRDs Sign Agreement with NRCS to Continue Conservation Efforts

Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) collectively signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Jan. 28. This agreement is a renewal of a long-standing commitment between the NRDs and NRCS that reaches back to the Dust Bowl days.

“For more than 80 years Nebraska’s NRDs and the NRCS have been working side-by-side to provide natural resource management assistance to Nebraskans,” said David Eigenberg, Upper Big Blue NRD general manager. “We are committed to continuing our conservation efforts with NRCS to protect lives, property and the future.”

In 1935 President Roosevelt signed the Soil Conservation Act. The law was designed, “To provide for the protection of land resources against soil erosion, and for other purposes.”

A driving force behind the creation of the Soil Conservation Act was the severe drought that was occurring in the Great Plains. Beginning in 1932, persistent drought conditions caused widespread crop failures leaving soil exposed and vulnerable to wind. This period was prone to dust storms that would block out the sun.

The Soil Conservation Act formed the Soil Conservation Service, which today is called the Natural Resources Conservation Service. It didn’t take long for the newly-formed Soil Conservation Service to learn that they needed ways to extend conservation assistance to more farmers. There needed to be a locally-led approach, and the idea for the conservation district was born.

In 1937 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) drafted the Standard State Soil Conservation Districts Law, which President Roosevelt sent to the governors of all states. This law created Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

In 1938 the Papio Soil Conservation District became the first conservation district in Nebraska. By 1972 the Nebraska Unicameral created the NRD system, which combined the responsibilities of the 154 special-use districts into a modern network of 23 Natural Resources Districts established along river basins.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has 77 county offices in Nebraska divided into management areas that mimic NRD boundaries. This allows the NRD and NRCS staff to work together on the same, locally-identified natural resource concerns. Today, Nebraska’s unique NRD system of locally-controlled, tax-funded, watershed-based conservation is widely admired throughout the nation.

“The signing of this agreement is a symbol of our commitment to continue the legacy of our conservation partnership established more than 80 years ago,” said NRCS State Conservationist Craig Derickson. “It was true back in the Dust Bowl that the issues facing agriculture couldn’t be solved alone. That’s still true today. By working together, we are able to accomplish more for farmers and ranchers in Nebraska.”

“Through partnerships like this, we help Nebraska farmers and ranchers remain productive and profitable while ensuring our natural resources are protected for generations,” said Annette Sudbeck, Lewis & Clark NRD general manager.

Each of the 23 NRDs will sign an agreement with NRCS, which reinforces the partnership between the agencies and will be in effect until mutually modified or terminated.

For more information about Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts, visit To learn more about the programs and services available from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, visit


            Local Working Groups that provide input on the priorities for many U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs will be holding meetings across the state over the next several weeks. A list of scheduled meetings is available on the Nebraska Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) website at, or by contacting your local NRCS field office. The public is invited to attend.

            There is a Local Working Group in each Natural Resources District (NRD). Local Working Group members include Federal, State, county, Tribal or local government representatives. According to Nebraska State Conservationist Craig Derickson with NRCS, whose agency guides the Local Working Groups, these work groups provide local input into how Federal dollars are spent.

           “The Local Working Group recommends to the NRCS State Conservationist how conservation programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), or the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) would be used most effectively in their area. Recommendations can include special target areas, which conservation practices should have cost assistance, or how many dollars could be needed,” said Derickson.

            Nebraska NRCS obligates funds to farmers and ranchers statewide through NRCS conservation programs. These programs helped landowners and operators make natural resource improvements to their land, water, or wildlife. This funding is allocated, in part, according to priorities set by Local Working Groups.

            For more information about the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the programs and services they provide, visit your local USDA Service Center or

Block and Bridle Club to recognize beef industry giant, Jerry D. Adams

Jerry D. Adams, a native of Broken Bow, Nebraska, will be recognized as the newest University of Nebraska–Lincoln Block and Bridle honoree. Each year the Block and Bridle Club selects an honoree that has contributed to Nebraska agriculture through leadership, service, youth projects, community activities and involvement with the university.

The Block and Bridle Club’s core objectives include the following: 1) to promote a higher scholastic standard and a more complete understanding of Animal Science among student members; 2) to promote animal agriculture through development of a program of activities that will supplement students' study of the animal sciences; 3) to enhance professionalism of students who will one day be leaders in the animal agriculture industry; and 4) to bring about a closer relationship among all students pursuing some phase of animal agriculture as a profession. Consistent with these objectives, the leadership, innovation, and commitment to the next generation are attributes exhibited by Jerry which make him an ideal selection for this year’s honor.

Jerry Adams graduated from UNL (1971) with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Agricultural Economics, Animal Science and Mathematics. During his time at UNL, Adams was active on campus and a member of the FarmHouse fraternity. Jerry, along with his brother Bill, co-own Adams Land & Cattle (ALCC) which is one of the premier beef feedlot operations in the world. Currently, Jerry serves on the boards for ALCC, Bellevue University, Custer Economic Development Corp., Custer Campus, Cattle-Fax, Blueprint Nebraska, and is a founding leader of both the Beef Alliance and the Nebraska Beef Producers Committee. Throughout his career, Jerry has had extensive involvement with UNL and IANR strategic planning and he has been a strong supporter of youth, community, and social organizations. For example, Jerry has supported 4H (e.g., partnering with County Extension to host youth animal quality assurance training), FFA, Custer County Foundation and has served on numerous councils, boards, and committees that have impacted the community and industry in countless ways.

Over the course of his career, Jerry has received multiple awards and recognitions. In 2019, he was honored with the Nebraska Banker’s Association Agri-Business Recognition Award and the Broken Bow High School Distinguished Alumni Award, and in 2018, he received the Ag Builders of Nebraska Award. In addition, Jerry has twice received the Custer Economic Development Corporation’s Wheel Horse Award.

In the words of those that contributed to Jerry Adams’ nomination, several quotes capture the essence of Jerry’s contributions:
    “I can think of no one who’s given more to his family, his community, county and State and his industry than Jerry Adams.”
    “His legacy includes tremendous gifts of service and leaving his communities much stronger than he found them.”
    “His vision has provided the roadmap for animal traceability in the feedlot industry that will be key to meeting consumer demand and enable the beef industry to maintain and grow market share domestically and internationally.”
    “Jerry has worked with the University across all leadership levels to position UNL, the Institute and the Animal Science Department to benefit from his experience, leadership, and most importantly, his vision for the future of the beef industry.”

Jerry and his family (wife, Linda, daughters, Amy Staples and Melissa Lynd, son, Scott Adams, and families) will be honored at the Block and Bridle Club Honors Banquet on April 17 at 6:00 p.m. at Nebraska Innovation Campus, 2021 Transformation Dr., Lincoln, NE 68508. Tickets to the banquet, which will feature a prime rib dinner, are $35. Tickets can be purchased by contacting a Block and Bridle Officer or Andi Hallberg at A reception for Jerry and his family, friends and past honorees will precede the banquet at 5:00 p.m.

The Block and Bridle Club is part of the Animal Science Department within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Nebraska.

Report Compares Costs of Crop Production in Iowa

Managing the cost of crop production will continue to be critical for farmer profitability this year, and farmers have some recent data to consider, found in Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s “Estimated Costs of Crop Production in Iowa” report.

Included in the January edition of the Ag Decision Maker, the report “provides average cost estimates for Iowa farms in 2020, and provides guidelines to help farmers calculate their own costs of production,” according to Alejandro Plastina, report author and assistant professor and extension economist at Iowa State University.

The report includes crop production prices for corn, corn silage, soybean, alfalfa and pasture maintenance, with data compiled from multiple state surveys.

On average, the total cost of corn and soybean production in Iowa is expected to decline by 4% from last year. However, producers will still need to be prudent to be profitable, as there is still substantial uncertainty regarding crop prices for the rest of 2020.

The estimated costs of production for continuous corn are $3.81, $3.78 and $3.76 per bushel, for expected yields of 164 bushels per acre, 182 bpa and 200 bpa, respectively. The estimated costs of production per bushel for corn following soybeans are $3.22, $3.23 and $3.23, assuming 179 bpa, 199 bpa and 219 bpa, respectively.

Cost of production estimates, per bushel, for herbicide-tolerant soybeans are $8.89, $8.72 and $8.57 assuming 50, 56 and 62 bushels per acre, respectively. The total cost per bushel of soybeans is projected at $8.72 for non-herbicide-tolerant beans at 56 bpa, according to the report.

The most recent United States Department of Agriculture projections for 2020-2021, published in October 2019, put the average U.S. farm prices for corn and soybean at $3.40 and $8.85. In this scenario, soybean production would only be profitable for operations with medium and high yields, but the profitability margins could be very tight. A continuous corn system would not be able to cover all costs, even with high yields, and corn production following soybean would generate $30-$40 per acre in profits. More optimistic price scenarios are found in futures prices, but uncertainty remains high.

“Producers need to have a strong grasp of their own production costs,” Alejandro said. “Costs of production are not seeing the rapid fluctuations that were seen in recent years, but the trade war and other events create a lot of uncertainty when it comes to profitability on an individual operation.”

For a more detailed crop production analysis, review the data found in the report and compare your own operation to these averages. Decision Tool spreadsheets for each budget are also available in this month’s Ag Decision Maker updates.

IA Dept of Ag Submits Comments on Hemp Interim Final Rule to USDA

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has submitted comments to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service on the Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program interim final rule (IFR).

“The Department is fielding questions about hemp production in Iowa every day. Producers are interested in purchasing hemp seed and obtaining a license in time for the 2020 growing season,” said Secretary Naig. “There are some uncertainties and inconsistencies in the federal regulatory framework and those issues need to be addressed. There must be a uniform and predictable set of standards for hemp producers and regulators across the country so growers have the opportunity to be successful.”

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is encouraging the USDA AMS to:
    Extend the sampling and harvest timeline from 15 days to 21 days.
    Require that all official hemp testing laboratories are ISO-17025 accredited to ensure they are held to the same quality, safety and efficiency standards.
    Increase the negligent violation range from 0.3 – 0.5 percent to 0.3 – 2.0 percent THC.
    Allow states to determine the appropriate duration of periodic corrective action plan reports based on the severity of the infractions.
    Work with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to provide direction to states on how to properly dispose of non-compliant cannabis crops.
    Allow states to work directly with local law enforcement, instead of DEA reverse distributors, to order and carry out the destruction of non-compliant cannabis crops.

To read the full comment letter, visit

The Department submitted its plan to license and regulate the production of hemp in Iowa to USDA on Dec. 11, 2019. The USDA has 60 days to review and provide feedback. It is not legal to grow, possess, buy or sell hemp in Iowa until the USDA approves the state plan and the Department publishes notice of the approval in the Iowa Administrative Bulletin.

Growers are advised to do their research and confirm there is a viable, profitable market for commercial hemp production before they make an investment in plant genetics and equipment.

Dairy Industry Applauds Secretary Perdue’s Commitment to Protect Common Names; Perdue Points at GIs as Trade Barriers

The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) expressed appreciation for Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s denunciation of geographical indications (GIs) as trade barriers.

During recent meetings with European agriculture and trade officials, Secretary Perdue made it clear that the European Union (EU) must drop its aggressive campaign to confiscate common food names in order to successfully negotiate a trade deal with the U.S.

In response, USDEC, NMPF and CCFN issued the following joint statement:

“The EU’s patently unfair trade policies, including the misuse of GI protections, have resulted in a lopsided trade dynamic where trade benefits only flow one-way: toward Europe. As Secretary Perdue rightly noted, Europe’s unfair trade barriers have less to do with preserving the rights of legitimate GIs than with restricting competition from exceptional U.S. products.

“We commend Secretary Perdue for his firm stance defending the rights of U.S. farmers and food producers to use the common names consumers know and love. Dismantling EU trade barriers that drive the dairy deficit and cause undue harm to our industry must remain a top priority in negotiations with the EU.”

Registration Now Open for Industry-Leading Pork Management Conference

The National Pork Board will host its annual Pork Management Conference, April 20-23, 2020, in Destin, Florida.

The annual conference will feature a diverse set of experts from across the U.S. to address current business trends and challenges facing the pork industry. Through presentations, breakout sessions and networking, attendees will gain important insight into the pork industry while learning critical management practices to improve the performance and efficiency of pig farming.

“The Pork Management Conference is a must-attend event for pork producers,” says David Newman, president of the National Pork Board and producer representing Arkansas. “It provides an opportunity for interactions among pork producers and those working in the industry to learn more about the different sectors, ask questions and take new information back to their farms.”

In addition to the general sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, two concurrent afternoon sessions are planned for Wednesday. Topics will include benchmarking, producer response plans, risk management, blockchain, crisis management, finding and keeping talented workers, accounting and tax updates.

Registration is $425 per person through March 20 and $475 after that. No refunds will be made after March 20. A registration from and detailed list of events are available at

 Bayer Welcomes U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Reaffirmation that Glyphosate Is Safe to Use, Not Carcinogenic

Bayer said today that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s favorable conclusion about the safety of glyphosate in its Interim Registration Review Decision, based on the agency’s expert review over a 10-year period, reaffirms that the extensive body of science continues to support the safety of herbicides containing glyphosate and that this active ingredient is not carcinogenic.

In its Interim Registration Review Decision, EPA concluded that it “did not identify any human health risks from exposure to glyphosate.”

“EPA’s latest decision on glyphosate-based herbicides adds to the long-term evaluation of leading international health authorities that these products can be used safely, and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic,” said Liam Condon, member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and President Crop Science Division. “Glyphosate-based herbicides are one of the most thoroughly studied products of their kind, which is a major reason why farmers around the world continue to rely on these products not only for effective weed control, but also to minimize tillage farming practices, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, preserve more land for native habitats, and provide enough food to meet the needs of a growing population worldwide. EPA’s science-based, in-depth assessment by its expert team reflects a gold standard for scientific rigor that is respected by regulators and scientists across the globe.”

The EPA had already confirmed its position on glyphosate earlier this year. Together with the U.S. Department of Justice, on behalf of the U.S. government, EPA filed an amicus brief in the Roundup Litigation in the Hardeman appeal. In this brief both authorities are supportive of the company’s arguments. In August 2019 the EPA sent a letter to glyphosate registrants, which stated respectively that a cancer warning on products containing this active ingredient would be “inconsistent with the agency’s scientific assessment of the carcinogenic potential of the product” and would be a “false and misleading statement.”

The EPA also said in its Interim Registration Review Decision that “it used the most current science policies and risk assessment methodologies to prepare a risk assessment in support of the registration review of glyphosate. The EPA thoroughly assessed risks to humans from exposure to glyphosate from all registered uses and all routes of exposure and did not identify any risks of concern.” EPA also reiterated its conclusion that “glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans”, its most favorable rating.

Glyphosate-based products are the most widely used herbicides in the world, and today’s EPA announcement is just the latest instance of a regulatory agency reaffirming that glyphosate is not carcinogenic. Since IARC’s assessment in 2015, regulatory and scientific bodies that have reaffirmed their conclusions about the safety of glyphosate-based products and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic include the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), German BfR, and Australian, Canadian, Korean, New Zealand and Japanese regulatory authorities, as well as the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR).

In January 2019, Health Canada concluded: “After a thorough scientific review,” concerns about glyphosate safety “could not be scientifically supported when considering the entire body of relevant data.” Health Canada also noted that the 20 scientists who conducted the review, who had not been involved in its 2017 re-evaluation of glyphosate, “left no stone unturned” and “had access to all relevant data and information from federal and provincial governments, international regulatory agencies, published scientific reports and multiple pesticide manufacturers.”

As part of Bayer’s Transparency Initiative, the company has committed to enabling access to all of the in-depth glyphosate safety and other crop protection studies submitted to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that Bayer has permission to disclose on its transparency platform. Bayer remains committed to offering more choices for growers and announced last year an investment of approximately 5 billion euros to develop additional methods to combat weeds over the next decade.

EPA Releases Preliminary Interim Decision on Neonicotinoids

Today, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Preliminary Interim Decision (PID) on a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids (neonics), which specifically addresses steps EPA is taking to protect pollinator health. Since 2015, EPA has included a pollinator risk assessment as part of its rigorous pesticide Registration Review process, as well as for new pesticide registrations. We support this process and once we have reviewed the full PID, we look forward to a robust public comment period.

Farmers depend on and protect bees and other pollinators, which are essential for their crops. Many farmers are beekeepers themselves and go to great lengths to provide habitat and forage for bee colonies, such as planting wildflowers around their cropland. As farmers grow and protect their crops, neonics are a protective and effective tool to prepare seeds for healthy growth.

In urban and suburban settings, professionals and consumers rely on neonics to protect homes, control bed bugs, and manage destructive invasive insects such as the emerald ash borer.

Studies performed around the world demonstrate that neonics are effective in controlling harmful insects in agricultural and non-agricultural settings, with no unreasonable adverse effects on pollinator health when used according to label instructions.

RFA Responds to USDA on Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program

The Renewable Fuels Association today submitted a response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s request for information on the agency’s new Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program, which was created to expand the availability and use of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel.

“We appreciate the opportunity to respond to USDA’s request for information and look forward to working with USDA and our partners in the retail community,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “This program builds on the success of USDA’s original Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership, which helped increase the availability of E15, E85 and other higher ethanol blends at retail sites across the country. We stand ready to assist USDA and fuel retailers throughout the development and execution of this important program to promote high-octane, low-carbon renewable fuels.”

In its response, RFA recommended that available funding be primarily directed at offsetting the costs to install and/or upgrade retail and wholesale infrastructure compatible with higher biofuel blends. In addition, RFA stated that funding assistance should be accessible to retailers of all sizes and on a nationwide basis. This should include everything from small, single-store owners to mid-size retailers and large chains.

RFA also noted that many of the barriers that discourage broader expansion of higher ethanol blends are regulatory in nature and under the jurisdiction of EPA. RFA's comments ask USDA to encourage its peer agency to take action to resolve these many barriers.

RFA & NCGA Co-Title Sponsorship of 2020 Crappie Masters Tournament Trail Begins This Week

The 2020 season of the Crappie Masters Tournament Trail begins later this week, with the Renewable Fuels Association and the National Corn Growers Association signed on as co-title sponsors for the fourth consecutive year. The first tournament begins Friday, Jan. 31 at St. Johns River in Deland, Fla.

“We are excited to get the 2020 season kicked off in DeLand, Fla.,” said Crappie Masters President Mike Vallentine. “The St. Johns River is such a unique fishery that allows participants to try several methods to catch fish plus you can always expect to see some big weights. We are also thrilled to be representing the Renewable Fuels Association and American Ethanol by sharing the truth about ethanol and educating our anglers, listeners, viewers and followers. For five straight seasons, all winning teams with Crappie Masters have been running E10 fuel in their boat with no reported problems. We understand there is more work to do and we are honored to take on this challenge.”

This year, the competition includes state-level tournament trails in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Florida, Arkansas, Alabama, West Tennessee and North and South Louisiana.

“Nearly one-third of America’s corn crop goes into the production of ethanol, an environmentally friendly fuel additive that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent, keeping the waterways anglers’ fish clean,” said NCGA ethanol action team chair Mark Recker. "For the past five years, each winning team of the Crappie Masters National Tournament Trail has used ethanol in their boat engines, citing maximum engine performance.”

“We are looking forward to another great year on the water with an expanded schedule of tournaments,” said RFA Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White. “This national partnership with Crappie Masters helps more anglers and boaters learn about the benefits of high-octane, low-carbon ethanol—a fuel that’s cleaner and cheaper, and that has proven its value on the tournament trail for years. E10 has been used for decades in all types of marine engines, and the fuel blend is approved for use by all major marine engine manufacturers, helping to clean the air and water.”

Crappie Masters Television will also highlight each tournament. The weekly show can be found on the Pursuit Channel, which is on DIRECTV 604, Dish Network 393, Verizon, CenturyLink and Roku.

The next Crappie Masters Tournament Trail event is Feb. 28-29 at Lake D’Arbonne in Gadsden County, Fla. The 2020 Crappie Masters Tournament Trail season runs through Sept. 26.

SUPER BOWL AD: Can You Spell Ultra-Processed?

This Sunday, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom will be running an ad during the Super Bowl in the Washington, D.C. market asking viewers to rethink what they eat when it comes to synthetic meat. CCF’s Super Bowl ad features a competition of its own--a spelling bee--in which children are asked to spell some of the chemical ingredients in synthetic meats.

Unbeknownst to many, plant-based meats are ultra-processed foods, which the National Institute of Health says may cause overeating and weight gain. According to the NOVA food classification system, ultra-processed foods are created by a series of industrial techniques and processes. Ingredients in synthetic meats include methylcellulose, which is commonly used in laxatives and lubricant, titanium dioxide, often used in paint, and propylene glycol, used in antifreeze.

CCF managing director Will Coggin commented: “Despite the perceived ‘health halo,’ synthetic meats are a long way off from being a magical mixture of vegetables. If you’re looking for a healthy snack, you can do better than these industrial foodlike substances.” In addition to ads CCF has run, the campaign has also been featured in articles by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.

Harrington Destructor Kills 100 Percent of U.S. Weed Seeds

In the battle against herbicide-resistant weeds, farmers are increasingly eager to add non-chemical control methods to their management toolbox. Impact mills, which destroy weed seeds picked up by a combine, have been shown to kill 70-99% of weed seeds in soybeans, wheat, and other small-statured cropping systems. And a recent Weed Science study from the University of Illinois shows even seeds that appear unscathed after impact milling don't germinate the following spring.

"Harvest weed seed control is really becoming an accepted part of integrated weed management," says Adam Davis, study co-author and head of the Department of Crop Sciences at U of I. "Producers are excited about it."

In the current study, Davis and his collaborators wanted to see how the Harrington Seed Destructor (HSD), an impact mill developed and widely used in Australia, handled common U.S. agronomic weeds without the complications of real field conditions.

The researchers collected seeds from 10 common weed species in soybean fields in the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. They fed the seeds through a stationary HSD, and then tried germinating them in a greenhouse and in the field following a typical Illinois winter.

Davis says 0 to 15% of the seeds appeared to be undamaged immediately after milling, regardless of species and seed size. But when the undamaged seeds were buried in the field and left through the winter, fewer than 10% survived. "Basically, almost zero survived overall."

Based on his previous research, Davis thinks microscopic abrasions from the impact mill damage the seed coat enough for microbes to enter and destroy the embryonic weed inside. Can producers expect nearly zero weed seed survival when using the HSD or other impact mills in the field? Probably not. Davis and his collaborators have been conducting U.S. field trials with the HSD for five years, and typically see a reduction in weed seed rain by 70 to 80%.

"The difference between its efficacy as a stationary device and its efficacy in the field is largely due to shattering of the weeds," Davis explains. "As the combine is going through, it's shaking everything and causing a lot of seed dispersal. By looking at the HSD as a stationary device, we're able to quantify the theoretical max."

Whether impact mills kill 70 or 99% of weed seeds, non-chemical control strategies are important in slowing the evolution of herbicide resistance. However, over-reliance on any one strategy could select for additional problematic traits in weeds.

"If producers start using this device on a large scale, they will ultimately select for earlier shattering. It's already been shown in Australia," Davis says. "That's just the nature of weed and pest management in general. Really what you're doing is managing evolution. In order for any tactic to be successful, you've got to change it up. You need to confuse them; add diversity in the time of year and life stages you're targeting. We're just proposing this as a new tactic that's effective -- not the only tactic."

The article, "Fate of weed seeds after impact mill processing in Midwestern and mid-Atlantic United States," is published in Weed Science. Co-authors include Lovreet Shergill, Kreshnik Bejleri, Adam Davis, and Steven Mirsky. The research was supported by USDA-ARS.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Wednesday January 29 Ag News

Sasse Statement on USMCA Signing

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, an outspoken advocate for Nebraska agriculture and trade, released the following statement after President Trump signed the USMCA trade agreement into law.

“The USMCA is now law — and that’s great news for Nebraska. Our farmers and ranchers deserve the certainty that this trade deal provides, and our neighbors, Canada and Mexico, are going to have it good knowing that they can buy from the very best America has to offer: Nebraska ag producers. We worked hard to get this deal across the finish line and the President and his team deserve a bunch of credit for getting this done.”

Smith Statement on President Trump Signing USMCA

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement after attending the signing of United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) today at the White House:

“The signing of USMCA is a major win for the United States. After more than 25 years, NAFTA needed to be modernized for the 21st century while ensuring its continued successes for Nebraska agriculture. I thank the President and his team for completing the work on USMCA and look forward to pursuing more opportunities for opening markets around the world.

Smith, a senior member of the Committee on Ways and Means, which has jurisdiction over trade, travelled to Ottawa and Mexico City to attend USMCA negotiations and served on the Republican whip team when USMCA passed the House.

Ricketts Attends President Trump’s USMCA Signing Ceremony

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts attended President Donald J. Trump’s signing ceremony for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).  Gov. Ricketts has been a vocal proponent of USMCA as President Trump has worked to hammer out the agreement with Canada and Mexico.

“This is a historic moment in our country’s relationship with our two closest neighbors,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “President Trump’s new trade deal ensures Nebraska will have the opportunity to grow our relationship with Canada and Mexico.  I appreciate the hard work of Nebraska’s federal delegation, ag groups, chambers, and so many others who successfully fought to seal the deal on USMCA.”

In 2018, Canada was Nebraska’s largest export market and Mexico was third.  Combined, the countries purchased over $3.13 billion worth of Nebraska’s products.  Canada and Mexico are also substantial direct international investors in Nebraska, employing about 6,400 people in the state.  Canada is Nebraska’s largest export market for hay, planting seeds, and enzymes.  Mexico is the state’s largest export market for corn, dairy, distillers grains, animal fats, and sugars and sweeteners.

Debbie Borg of Allen also represented Nebraska at the USMCA signing.  Borg serves on the Nebraska Corn Board and raises row crops and livestock on their family farm with her husband Terry and kids Hannah, Heidi, and Hunter.

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding President Trump Signing USMCA Trade Deal into Law

“Today American agriculture is able to mark yet another item off the ‘to-do’ list when it comes to international trade. We thank President Trump for signing the United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA) legislation authorizing implementation of this major trade deal. USMCA will allow our farm and ranch families to maintain market access for Nebraska beef, pork, corn, and soybeans with two of our largest trading partners, as well as open new doors for the sale of Nebraska wheat, poultry, and dairy products. With the U.S. and Mexico having authorized the deal, we look forward to our Canadian neighbors taking the final steps for approval so we can begin to take advantage of this updated agreement.”

Naig at White House for Signing of USMCA

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig issued the following statement in response to President Trump signing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement today.

“It was exciting to be in Washington D.C. to witness President Trump sign the modernized USMCA,” said Secretary Naig. “U.S. farmers are benefiting from the Trump administration’s efforts to renegotiate unbalanced trade agreements. Under the new USMCA, Iowa farmers will gain greater access to our two largest export markets, which is great news heading into the 2020 planting season.”

Perdue Statement on USMCA Signing

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement after President Donald J. Trump signed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“Today is a good day for American agriculture. Throughout this process, there were many detractors who said it couldn’t be done. But this is further proof that President Trump’s trade negotiation strategy is working. This agreement shows the rest of the world the United States is open for business. USMCA is critical for America’s farmers and ranchers, who will now have even more market access to our neighbors to the north and the south. I am excited to see the economic benefits of this agreement increase the prosperity of all Americans, especially those living in rural America,” said Secretary Perdue.

USMCA will advance United States agricultural interests in two of the most important markets for American farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses. This high-standard agreement builds upon our existing markets to expand United States food and agricultural exports and support food processing and rural jobs.

Canada and Mexico are our first and second largest export markets for United States food and agricultural products, totaling more than $39.7 billion food and agricultural exports in 2018. These exports support more than 325,000 American jobs.

All food and agricultural products that have zero tariffs under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will remain at zero tariffs. Since the original NAFTA did not eliminate all tariffs on agricultural trade between the United States and Canada, the USMCA will create new market access opportunities for United States exports to Canada of dairy, poultry, and eggs, and in exchange the United States will provide new access to Canada for some dairy, peanut, and a limited amount of sugar and sugar-containing products.

NCGA: USMCA a Win for Agriculture

National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross today declared President Trump’s signing of the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) a big win for American agriculture. Mexico and Canada are the U.S. corn industry’s largest, most reliable market; 21.4 million metric tons of corn and corn co-products, valued at $4.56 billion, were exported to Mexico and Canada in 2018. The signing follows overwhelming Congressional support for the trade deal.

Ross made the following statement.
“This is a big win for America’s farmers, our rural communities and the American economy. USMCA builds on our already successful trading partnership with Mexico and Canada. This agreement should serve as a template for opening the door to new market opportunities for U.S. corn. Corn farmers are grateful for the hard work done by the President, the U.S. Trade Representative and everyone in the Administration who made today’s signing possible.”
Ross attended today’s White House signing along with Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association President Patty Mann, Minnesota Corn Growers Association President Les Anderson and Wisconsin Corn Growers Association President Doug Rebout. Passing USMCA was NCGA’s top legislative priority for 2019, and the organization will continue to work with the Administration to identify future opportunities for market access and new agreements.

NPPC Heralds Signing of USMCA Agreement

President Trump today signed into law the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement, which, once implemented, will provide much-needed certainty for U.S. pork producers. National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President David Herring attended today's signing ceremony, as well as seven other NPPC board members: Scott Hays (Missouri), Dale Reicks (Iowa), Duane Stateler (Ohio), Lori Stevermer (Minnesota), Kraig Westerbeek (North Carolina), Terry Wolters (Minnesota) and Russell Vering (Nebraska).

"USMCA provides U.S. pork producers with certainty in two of our largest export markets and we thank President Trump and his administration for making USMCA a top priority," said Herring, a hog farmer from Lillington, N.C. "We look forward to implementation of a trade deal that preserves zero-tariff pork trade in North America."

In 2018, Canada and Mexico took more than 40 percent of the pork that was exported from the United States and a similar volume is expected in 2019. U.S. pork exports to Canada and Mexico support 16,000 U.S. jobs.

"With USMCA now signed into law, NPPC is focused on another top trade priority for U.S. pork producers: unrestricted access to China," said Herring. "We believe that pork will be the litmus test for China's compliance with its phase-one purchase commitments to the United States. We urge China to eliminate the 60 percent punitive tariffs and other restrictions on U.S. pork exports. Tariff elimination would more than double annual U.S. pork sales, generate 184,000 new American jobs and reduce the overall trade deficit with China by nearly six percent, all within the next decade."

Soy Leaders Attend USMCA Signing in Support of Trade Deal

Members of the American Soybean Association (ASA) board of directors from five states attended the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement signing ceremony at the White House in celebration of the new treaty. ASA represents soy farmers from 30 total soy-producing states and is pleased to see the agreement signed into law.

“This final step by President Trump ensures soybean growers will maintain access to two of their top markets, and it will also support the poultry and dairy industries that are important to soy,” said Bill Gordon, ASA president and grower from Worthington, MN. Gordon continued, “We reiterate our hearty thanks to both houses of Congress, the President, and their staff who worked together to make this important deal happen.”

Mexico has already acted on USMCA, and Canada’s Parliament is expected to follow the United States and approve the deal in the coming weeks. The deal is expected to take effect later this year after additional procedural steps.

Mexico is the #2 market for whole beans, meal and oil, and Canada is the #4 buyer of meal and #7 buyer of oil for U.S. soybean farmers, making the trade agreement essential to sustaining the growth realized in those two countries under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Under NAFTA, U.S. soybean sales to Mexico quadrupled and to Canada doubled.

NCBA: USMCA Ratification Latest Victory for U.S. Cattle Producers

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Jennifer Houston, who attended today’s White House signing ceremony for the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), today released the following statement:

“This is a great day for America’s cattle producers and we were once again honored to participate in another great victory for our industry. Of course, the ratification of USMCA comes on the heels of a game-changing new trade deal with China, a new bilateral agreement with our largest export partners in Japan, and much-improved access to the European Union.

“Add that to the new waters rule that was finalized last week, new proposed grazing regulations, and new proposed rules that would provide much-needed relief the National Environmental Policy Act, and it’s easy to see that 2020 is off to a truly historic start for U.S. beef producers. I want to thank the President and his entire team for listening to our producers’ concerns and for working with us to find real common-sense solutions.”

U.S. Wheat Industry Applauds the Trump Administration for Signing the U.S. Mexico-Canada Agreement into Law

Today, the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) extend thanks to President Trump for signing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) into law, making it an official trade agreement. 

“USMCA will bring some guarantee to the unpredictable climate of farming,” said National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) President and Lavon, Tex., farmer Ben Scholz. “Trade deals create markets which provide stability for growers, making the profession more attractive to future generations. NAWG would like to thank the Administration again for working to get this agreement finalized.”

 “Wheat farmers and Mexico’s wheat buyers are very glad to see the cloud of uncertainty lifted from our trade relationship,” said U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Chairman and Paulding, Ohio, wheat farmer Doug Goyings. “Replacing NAFTA without harm to the wheat trade relationship was a priority for all of us – mission accomplished.”

USMCA retains tariff-free access to imported U.S. wheat for those long-time flour milling customers in Mexico, a crucial step toward rebuilding trust in the U.S. as a reliable supplier in this important, neighboring market. In addition, the USMCA makes important progress towards more open commerce for U.S. wheat farmers near the Canadian border by allowing U.S. varieties registered in Canada to receive reciprocal grading treatment. 

Other measures that benefit the wheat industry include the Agreement’s language around agricultural biotechnology which supports 21st Century innovations in agriculture and new language to strengthen disciplines for science-based SPS measures.

USMCA Nears Completion with Trump’s Signature

During a ceremony held today at the White House, President Donald Trump signed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) into law. Though the agreement has already been approved by Mexico, it will not be fully implemented until it is ratified by the Canadian government.

National Farmers Union (NFU) opposed the free trade framework established by USMCA’s predecessor, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the organization initially withheld endorsement for USMCA when it was introduced over a year ago. However, the NFU Board of Directors later voted to support it after the House Democrats made several notable improvements. In a statement, NFU President Roger Johnson thanked House Democrats for working to strengthen the deal and applauded its passage:

“Since NAFTA set a precedent for unfettered free trade two-and-a-half decades ago, our nation’s trade deals have favored the interests of multinational corporations at the expense of family farmers and ranchers and rural economies. With the passage of USMCA, we are hopeful that this era is finally over and that some equity will be restored to international markets.

“We are especially pleased to see significant improvements over earlier versions of this deal, including stronger labor, environmental, and enforcement provisions as well as the elimination of giveaways to the pharmaceutical industry. These improvements are the direct result of many months of negotiations by Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats, for which we commend them.

“Though USMCA is a big step forward, it should be a floor for future trade deals, not a ceiling; when negotiating with other trading partners, we encourage the Trump administration and Congress to build on this momentum to establish fair trade agreements that protect rural jobs, ensure fair prices for farmers, and restore sovereignty to the United States.”

Growth Energy Praises Passage of USMCA

Today, President Trump signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which modernizes the previous trade pact, strengthens the trade relationship between these North American nations, and provides critical market access for U.S. agriculture. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement praising it’s ratification by the United States:

“This historic agreement between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada is welcomed by biofuel producers across North America, as it reinforces our already strong trade relationship and opens the door for more opportunities for our allies in the agriculture industry. We are grateful to President Trump, his administration, and our champions in Congress for their steadfast commitment to securing this win for American agriculture.”

Canada is the only remaining country that needs to ratify the trade agreement. Once this happens, the three countries must meet procedural obligations before the deal takes full effect.

The USMCA provides market access and trade opportunities for U.S. biofuel and its coproducts. Mexico’s move toward a ten percent blend of ethanol nationwide could deliver a potential new market of 1.2 billion gallons for U.S. producers.

Canada is the U.S.’s second-largest ethanol export market, accepting 347 million gallons in 2018. The Canadian market has the potential to increase materially over the next 10 years due to changes in both federal and provincial policy, including pushes by Ontario and Quebec to move to a fifteen percent ethanol blend. The Canadian province of Manitoba also recently announced it will move province-wide to a ten percent ethanol blending standard.

Additionally, Mexico is the U.S.’s largest dried distillers grains (DDGs) export destination, with over 2 million metric tons shipped in 2018. Canada was our seventh largest export destination for DDGs with 664 thousand metric tons in 2018, and is on track to be the fifth largest export destination in 2019.

Pres. Trump Signs USMCA, Misses the Mark for U.S. Farmers and Ranchers

Today, President Trump signed the U.S., Mexico, and Canada trade agreement (USMCA). The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) issued the following statement:

Today, President Trump signed the USMCA trade deal to replace "nightmare NAFTA." But like its predecessor, USMCA fuels the consolidation and monopolization of food and agriculture, and is harmful to the survivability of America’s independent farmers and ranchers.

NAFTA provided windfall profits for global corporations at the expense of farm and ranch families, and USMCA does not tilt the scales of justice back. It does not address excessive agriculture and food market concentration, the overproduction of milk, the disparity in grain pricing, nor does it provide the U.S. with mandatory Country of Origin Labeling authority.

Organization for Competitive Markets is gravely disappointed that the economic viability of America’s farmers and ranchers has once again been left out of the trilateral trade agreement.

Rural America Now Dependent on Congress to Fix USMCA's Glaring Deficiency

Today, President Donald J. Trump signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), describing it as a modernization of the antiquated, 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Trump had described NAFTA as a terrible trade agreement that harmed Americans.   

The new USMCA, however, makes no changes in the trade of cattle and beef, even though the U.S. cattle industry is the largest segment of American agriculture and the combination of cattle and beef are the leading agricultural import from Canada and Mexico.

R-CALF USA urged Trump to modernize the cattle and beef trade in the USMCA to enable America's cattle farmers and ranchers to compete against the growing volumes of cattle and beef imports from Canada and Mexico, which are direct product substitutes for American cattle and beef products.

The group specifically asked Trump to include a Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (M-COOL) requirement in the USMCA to require all beef sold at retail stores to bear a consumer label disclosing the countries from where the beef animal had been born, raised and slaughtered.

"America's cattle producers cannot compete even in their home market while imported cattle and beef remain indistinguishable from beef produced exclusively from cattle born and raised on America's farms and ranches," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

R-CALF USA tied its USMCA request to Trump's 2017 Buy American Hire American Executive Order explaining that Americans cannot choose to buy American beef without a label disclosing which beef is American and which beef is imported.

But, while R-CALF USA argued America's cattle farmers and ranchers will continue to be harmed, representatives of the concentrated beef packing industry argued that disclosing the origins of beef to consumers would hurt their profits.

"And, they won this round," said Bullard adding, "The multinational beef packers will continue exploiting the reputations of America's cattle farmers and ranchers by importing cheaper, undifferentiated beef and selling that beef to unsuspecting consumers who are led to believe the imported beef was born, raised and slaughtered right here in America.

While the U.S. annually exports almost $2 billion in cattle and beef to Canada and Mexico, the economic benefits from those U.S. exports are overwhelmed because the U.S. annually imports over $4 billion of the very same commodities - cattle and beef, from Canada and Mexico.

Bullard explained that while this ongoing trade imbalance harms America's cattle farmers and ranchers, it is a boon for multinational beef packers that both source cheaper imports to increase their domestic margins and sell more foreign beef into the United States from their foreign platforms to increase their foreign margins.

"Unfortunately, just as consumers cannot yet distinguish domestic beef from foreign beef, the President and his administration has not yet distinguished the economic interests of America's cattle farmers and ranchers from those of the multinational beef packing complex," Bullard commented.   

According to Bullard, the ongoing, unabated negative trade balance is causing the U.S. cattle industry to shrink, which is putting a severe strain on Rural America. He said the group must now rely on Congress to pass legislation to fix what he calls the glaring deficiency in the USMCA.

"We will now go to Congress for help in mitigating the harm the USMCA will continue to cause Rural America by seeking legislation to require Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling for all beef sold in America," Bullard concluded.

Midwest Hemp Forum coming to Antelope County February 21st

After a successful 2019, educating over 700 farmers at five Hemp Farmers Forums in Clatonia, David City, Pilger, York & Syracuse; Midwest Hemp Forum is proud to announce the first event of 2020, our upcoming February 21st Neligh Hemp Farmers Forum, hosted by the Neligh Office of Economic Development and Antelope County Ag Society. Learn from Farmers currently growing hemp, local harvesting equipment experts, Professors, Processors and other Hemp experts.

The Neligh Hemp Farmers Forum will be taking place from 11:30-3:30PM at the Antelope County Ag Society Exhibit Building, 709 E. US-275 Neligh, NE 68756, doors will open at 11AM.

Tickets can be claimed at or

“The Neligh Office of Economic Development is thrilled to sponsor Midwest Hemp Forum’s Neligh Hemp Farmers Forum. There are over 700 farms in Antelope County alone. With corn prices in the mid $3.50 range, we need to offer an alternative crop to Nebraska producers. Hemp could be that alternative crop. Hemp could reduce the cost of insecticides and herbicides as well as the use of precious water resources.The environmental benefits could be a game changer in many industries. The plant is 100% utilizable and can be manufactured into over 25,000 products to help Northeast Nebraska manufactures and entrepreneurs prosper. Creating an greater export product basis for the county and ultimately for Nebraska,” said Lauren Sheridan-Simonsen, Director of Economic Development for the city of Neligh.

"The Midwest Hemp farmers forum is the educational event that Nebraska needs to ensure its farmers have the knowledge and resources to succeed, as well as building a network of producers interested in this new commodity,” Said Jacob Bish of Bish Enterprises & Hemp Harvest Works, a Gilter, Nebraska based Ag Implement dealership and Midwest Hemp Forum participant.

Forum participants include Dr. Andrea Holmes, a Doane University Chemistry Professor and past President of the Nebraska American Chemical Society. Dr. Holmes oversees and administers Doane University’s Cannabis Certificate program which has certified over 1700 individuals across the United States with skills to work in various areas of the Hemp marketplace.

“Before prohibition the midwest had a comparative advantage in Hemp production. Nebraska was the 3rd largest Agricultural Hemp producer in the United States after only Kentucky & Illinois. Since that generational knowledge had been lost, we have been hosting these Forums across Nebraska to allow Farmers the ability to learn a little about the crop and make a proper opportunity cost decision about diversifying with Hemp on their operations in 2020 or 2021,” said Colin Fury, event organizer of the Midwest Hemp Forum.

Participants also include 20 year Hemp farmer Jeff Kostuik of Hemp Genetics International. Jeff is a Manitoba Canada based Hemp producer passionate about the use of Hemp, whether it be for fiber, grain, oil or as a nutraceutical, and grows Hemp seed hearts for Manitoba Harvest.

“The hemp forum was a real eye opener for me. I think people saw just how versatile hemp can be,” said Brent Broberg of Tilden based Broberg Organics.

Sponsors include Agri-Inject Inc, Al Stelling Farm Bureau Financial Services, Antelope County AG Society, Bish Enterprises, Blackburn Manufacturing Blackburn Manufacturing Company , Broberg Organics, LLC , Great Plains Seed Company, Heritage Bank , Midwest Hemp Exchange, Nature Safe, and the Neligh Office of Economic Development .

“Bish Enterprises has been providing innovative harvest technology since 1976,and we've continued this tradition with hemp as it's come onto the market. Beyond developing new equipment solutions, we work with other equipment manufacturers to provide hemp producers all of their equipment needs,” said Jacob Bish of Bish Enterprises/Hemp Harvest Works in Giltner.

“The best part of the Forum are the outstanding innovators and Agricultural producers you meet at the event, folks like Brent Broberg of Tilden who raises Organic Earthworms castings, which are a great fertilizer option for Hemp producers, and we are excited to see Blackburn Manufacturing and so many other Antelope County businesses take interest in what Forbes estimates will be a $22 billion American industry by 2024“ said Event Organizer Colin Fury. “ Hemp plants and worm castings are a great match. We’ve had a lot of interest and look forward to helping hemp farmers with their fertilizer needs, said Brent Broberg of Broberg Organics in Tilden”

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture will begin licensing Hemp processors and producers on Monday, February 3rd, 2020. To learn more Farmers can visit

“It is morning for hemp in Nebraska, and we will have NDA licensing applications available to any attendee of the Forum interested in growing hemp on their farm in 2020.” said Fury.

The legalization of hemp at the Federal and now our State level has opened up a new industry for our region. If you’re interested in adding hemp to your rotation—for oil, seed, or fiber production this event is for you.

The Neligh Hemp Farmers Forum is free and lunch will be served. Tickets can be claimed online at

Twelve Organic Certifiers Recognized for Enforcement Successes

The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) today recognized the work of accredited organic certifiers with awards for extraordinary support of the National Organic Standards. The awards were presented at the annual NOP Certifier Training for organic inspectors from around the world, held in San Antonio, Texas.

Ten certifiers were recognized for the exceptional quality and timeliness of data provided to the Organic INTEGRITY Database. “Better data deters fraud by making it faster for investigators to identify higher risk activities and focus additional enforcement resources,” said Jennifer Tucker, who heads the NOP. “Catching and punishing fraud quickly supports the high level of trust that farmers and consumers continue to demonstrate in the USDA Organic Seal.”

The federal organic regulations currently require the annual posting of a set of basic facts regarding certified operations into the USDA Organic INTEGRITY Database (OID). All USDA accredited certifiers met the January 2, 2020, annual deadline for uploading required updates about the operations they certify. The OID also includes many optional fields, like acreage, that can aid in oversight and enforcement. “The ten certifiers recognized today significantly exceeded the minimum requirements by supplying additional detail on their certified operations and submitting updates on a rolling basis throughout the year,” said Tucker.

“The ready availability of robust data is also good for certified farms and ranches as the database becomes increasingly important as a resource for companies looking to buy certified organic ingredients,” said Tucker. “It is gratifying to see continued growth in the number of certifiers who voluntarily compete for these awards, significantly increasing the amount of quality data available to NOP staff and the growing list of our law enforcement partners.”

The third annual Investing in INTEGRITY Data Quality Award winners:
    CCOF Certification Services, LLC (Santa Cruz, CA)
    Primus Auditing Operations (Santa Maria, CA)
    Marin Organic Certified Agriculture (Novato, CA)
    Yolo County Department of Agriculture (Woodland, CA)
    Colorado Department of Agriculture (Broomfield, CO)
    One-Cert, Inc (Lincoln, NE)

    New Jersey Department of Agriculture (Trenton, NJ)
    Global Organic Alliance (Bellefontaine, OH)
    Clemson University (Pendleton, SC)
    IMOcert Latinoamerica LTDA (Cochabamba, Bolivia)

In addition, NOP recognized four certifiers for exemplary work investigating significant grain fraud cases in 2018-2019. “The quick, thorough work by staff at CCOF, QCS, One-Cert, and Oregon Tilth provided sound evidence to support timely enforcement actions that impact the entire supply chain,” said NOP Enforcement Division Director Betsy Rakola. “We appreciate these good people for helping USDA ensure consumers get what they pay for when they buy USDA Certified Organic products for their families.”

2020 Director’s Award winners are:
    CCOF Certification Services, LLC (Santa Cruz, CA)
    Quality Certification Services (Gainesville, FL)
    One-Cert, Inc (Lincoln, NE)

    Oregon Tilth Certified Organic (Corvallis, OR)

In addition to on-demand courses available online at the USDA Organic Integrity Learning Center, the NOP also provides classroom training for organic inspectors on topics from oversight to advanced enforcement in conjunction with the Accredited Certifiers Association and the International Organic Inspectors Association.

The Organic INTEGRITY Database makes information on current and former certified organic operations publicly available online from anywhere in the world. It allows users to quickly confirm the organic certification status and other details of a farm or business and helps certifiers support the organic community in fraud prevention.

More information on organic enforcement and oversight is available on the NOP website at

Apply for Century and Heritage Farm Recognition

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig encouraged eligible farm owners to apply for the 2020 Century and Heritage Farm Program. The program was created by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation to recognize families that have owned their farm for 100 years and 150 years, respectively.

"I look forward to the Century and Heritage Farm day at the Iowa State Fair each year. Recognizing and hearing the stories of each of these farm families is a great way to celebrate the history and impact that agriculture has on the state," said Secretary Naig. "It was an honor for my family to be on the stage a few years ago and I look forward to recognizing other farm families who are receiving this honor in 2020."

To apply, download the application on the Department's website at

Applications may also be requested from Kelley Reece, Coordinator of the Century and Heritage Farm Program via phone at 515-281-3645, email at or by writing to Century or Heritage Farms Program, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Henry A. Wallace Building, 502 E. 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50319.

Farm families seeking to qualify for the Century or Heritage Farms Program must submit an application to the Department no later than June 1.

The Century Farm program was started in 1976 as part of the Nation's Bicentennial Celebration. To date, more than 20,000 farms from across the state have received this recognition. The Heritage Farm program was started in 2006, on the 30th anniversary of the Century Farm program, and more than 1,000 farms have been recognized. Last year 332 Century Farms and 153 Heritage Farms were recognized.

Past awardees and photos can be accessed on the Department's website. To search the applications of past recipients, visit

The ceremony to recognize the 2020 Century and Heritage Farm Award Winners is scheduled to be held at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 20 in the Pioneer Livestock Pavilion.

Center for Rural Affairs releases fact sheets, tips on building climate resiliency

As part of a project focusing on elevating the stories of rural climate leaders, the Center for Rural Affairs today released a series of fact sheets focused on building  resiliency in the face of climate change.

When it comes to addressing issues surrounding our changing climate, tasks, such as turning off electronic equipment at the end of the work day, switching to paperless bills, and recycling plastic, glass, and paper, can go a long way.

“Individuals living in rural areas have an important role in addressing climate change,” said Kayla Bergman, policy associate for the Center for Rural Affairs. “The Center can assist individuals in understanding how to take necessary actions to address climate change.”

The “Building Climate Resiliency” fact sheets cover steps to address climate change for rural residents of various backgrounds and professions.

The series offers tips and information for educators, rural entrepreneurs, homeowners, and farmers and landowners.

For example, a fact sheet for educators addresses how they can be leaders in creating climate-smart classrooms by using reusable materials and supplies, as well as recycling.

The fact sheet in this series for rural entrepreneurs offers information about how businesses can lead by example through energy efficiency, waste reduction, and smart fuel/travel choices.

The final two fact sheets provide information to homeowners on ways they can reduce their carbon footprint, such as using efficient appliances and going paperless with their bills and how farmers and landowners investing in soil health will build their resiliency in the face of climate change.

“No matter the background or occupation, there are rural Americans taking important steps to address our changing climate in their lives and businesses,” Bergman said. “These fact sheets feature those stories and examples of actions taken.”

The fact sheets can be found at

Pig Farmers Pay It Forward with Two Million Servings of Pork

The National Pork Board announced today more than 2 million servings of pork have been donated in the last two months by pig farmers working together to help fight food insecurity in their local communities. The donations – made through the national Hams Across America effort – showcase the pork industry’s commitment to the We CareSM ethical principles, including a focus on community.

“Giving back to our communities is an important part of who we are,” said David Newman, president of the National Pork Board and a pig farmer representing Arkansas. “Our Hams Across America program gives me and other pig farmers another way to live out the We Care ethical principles, but my favorite part is getting to share our love of the food we produce with neighbors in need.”

The Hams Across America program helps overcome food insecurity, especially in rural areas where pig farmers farm and live. In November, the Oklahoma Pork Council kicked off the #GiveAHam challenge, a grassroots effort that encourages farmers to pay it forward with pork donations to local food pantries and to challenge colleagues and others in their communities to do the same. The challenge was supported by a record number of participants, with more than 200 individuals and businesses contributing time, resources and pork to the nationwide effort.

In its fourth year, the Hams Across America campaign also received strong support from Smithfield Foods, Prairie Fresh® Pork and JBS USA Pork. These companies provided more than 170,000 pounds of pork to food banks across the country. 

During the campaign, the National Pork Board partnered with nine YouTube creators who paid it forward with pork by donating over 25,000 servings to their communities. The YouTube campaign engaged nearly 6 million viewers.

“It was amazing to see how these creators paid it forward with pork and shared stories of pig farmers’ commitment to our communities,” Newman said. “Partnering with influencers to share our pork story has been an important piece of our digital strategy. This is especially important since YouTube reaches 95% of the Gen Zers that we need to start building relationships with.”

The Hams Across America campaign is a nationwide effort organized and managed by the National Pork Board, the National Pork Producers Council, state pork associations and U.S. pig farmers. For more information on pig farmers’ commitment to giving back to their communities, visit

State Beef Councils Win Crucial Step in Court Case Against Beef Checkoff

The beef industry won an important victory today helping ensure cattlemen and cattlewomen will continue to direct how checkoff investments are made at the state level. In the matter of R-CALF vs. Sonny Perdue, a magistrate judge granted summary judgment to the government and the 15 qualified state beef councils targeted by R-CALF and its activist legal partners at Public Justice.

“We are pleased with today’s opinion, which allows state beef councils to continue the important work of beef promotion and research. Although this case is far from complete, this was a crucial step toward ensuring state beef councils retain the important ability to direct their investments at the grassroots level,” said Colin Woodall, NCBA Chief Executive Officer.

The decision of the magistrate judge will now be forwarded to the federal district court for a final ruling. It could continue to be appealed by either party after the district court judge issues an opinion, a process that will continue over the next several months or longer.

“The beef checkoff continues to provide important benefits for cattle producers in the form of research and promotion that returns nearly $12 for every dollar invested in the program. The Beef Checkoff is weakened, and the benefits it provides our industry are put in jeopardy, by lawsuits such as this one,” said Woodall. “We’re committed to defending state beef councils from these attacks and ensuring producers at the grassroots level continue to determine how checkoff dollars are invested in their states.”

DAP, Urea Lead Fertilizer Prices Lower

Average retail fertilizer prices continued to shift even lower the third week of January 2020, according to sellers surveyed by DTN.

For the first time in quite some time, multiple fertilizers were significantly lower compared to last month. DTN designates any change over 5% as a significant price move.

DAP is 7% lower compared to the month prior and now has an average price of $413 per ton. Urea is 6% lower compared to the third week of December 2019 and has an average price of $357/ton.

Five other fertilizers had a slight price decline from the previous month. MAP had an average price of $435/ton, potash $374/ton, anhydrous $487/ton, UAN28 $237/ton and UAN32 $275/ton.

The remaining fertilizer, 10-34-0, had a slight price increase looking back to last month. The starter fertilizer had an average price of $470/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are mixed in price from a year ago. MAP and DAP are both now 19% lower, anhydrous is 17% less expensive, urea is 13% lower, both UAN28 and UAN32 are 12% less expensive and potash is 2% less expensive from last year at this time. In addition, 10-34-0 is 1% higher compared to last year.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 1/24/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending Jan. 24, ethanol production shifted lower by 20,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 1.9%, to a twelve-week low of 1.029 million b/d—equivalent to 43.22 million gallons daily. The four-week average ethanol production rate decreased 0.8% to 1.059 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 16.23 billion gallons.

Ethanol stocks grew 0.9% to 24.2 million barrels, the largest reserves in six months and 1.1% higher than the same week last year. Inventories built in all regions except the Gulf Coast (PADD 3), which experienced a sharp decline.

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the second straight week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of November 2019.)

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market expanded 1.5% to 8.793 million b/d (369.31 million gallons per day, or 134.80 bg annualized). Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol scaled 1.0% higher to 873,000 b/d—equivalent to 13.38 bg annualized.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production declined to 11.70%.

Improvements to Hemp Regulation Needed to Support Farmers

Improved testing rules, an expanded testing timeline, and clarity around hemp transportation would help farmers grow and market this new crop, the American Farm Bureau Federation said in comments submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The comments relate to USDA’s Interim Final Rule regulating hemp production nationwide.

Earlier this month, farmers and ranchers at AFBF’s Annual Convention voted to support an increase in the allowable THC level in hemp up to 1%. The vote gives AFBF leaders and staff the flexibility to engage in discussions with regulators and lawmakers about the appropriate legal limit on THC.

Current law limits THC content in hemp to 0.3% or below. In addition, regulations require testing to be conducted only on the flower of the plant, despite the harvesting and use of the entire plant.

AFBF is requesting that USDA allow THC testing of the entire plant, including the flower, leaf and stem, to be averaged together. Since hemp’s legalization, there is growing demand for hemp fibers to make everything from clothing to rope and flooring, none of which is impacted by the THC level.

The Interim Final Rule requires the collection of plant samples needed for THC testing within 15 days of the anticipated harvest date. In comments to USDA, AFBF noted this narrow window places an unnecessary burden on farmers, who risk losing their entire crop if they cannot complete harvest in just 15 days, and fails to consider the potential for delayed test results due to a lack of THC testing facilities. AFBF is urging USDA to extend the 15-day window to 45 days before the anticipated harvest date to remove this unfair and expensive burden on farmers.

USDA requires that all THC testing labs be certified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. With only 44 DEA-certified labs in 22 states to serve hundreds of hemp farmers, many believe testing delays and backlogs are inevitable. Without a certified lab in each state, hemp growers may have to transport untested samples across state lines to comply with the regulations. However, if the hemp being transported is above the 0.3% THC threshold, farmers will have shipped an illegal product across state lines, opening them up to potential prosecution.

Many states have used private labs with third-party certifications to conduct THC testing, based on guidelines in the 2014 Farm Bill. These labs are regularly assessed and must meet international performance requirements to maintain certification. AFBF is requesting that USDA allow testing in private labs that have obtained third-party accreditation, to minimize delays and costs to hemp farmers.

With FDA Stalled, Congress Needs To Pass DAIRY PRIDE for Consumers, NMPF’s Balmer Says

Congress needs to pass the DAIRY PRIDE Act soon to ensure FDA does its job to ensure consumers have accurate information for informed decisions about what to feed themselves and their families, National Milk Producers Federation Executive Vice President Tom Balmer told a congressional subcommittee today.

Allowing non-dairy products to use dairy terms to promote goods with wildly different nutritional values has undermined public health and directly flouts the FDA’s own rules, Balmer said in testimony at a hearing on “Improving Safety and Transparency in America’s Food and Drugs” before the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health. Proper labeling benefits consumers by drawing clear distinctions among products, encouraging better-informed choices, he said.

“Plant-based industrial food processors typically go to great lengths to try to replicate real milk by grinding seeds, nuts or grains into a powder, adding water, whiteners, sweeteners, stabilizers and emulsifiers, possibly blending in some vitamins and minerals, and then marketing the resulting concoction using dairy terms,” Balmer said. “By calling these products “milk” they are clearly seeking to trade on the health halo of real milk. Yet these imitators engage in misleading marketing because their products don’t have the same consistent nutritional offerings as real milk.”

Federal regulations clearly state that a product labeled as “milk” comes from a cow or certain other lactating animals, and that other dairy products are likewise made from animal milk. FDA has not been enforcing these regulations.

The DAIRY PRIDE Act, introduced by Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Mike Simpson (R-ID) in the House and Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jim Risch (R-ID) in the Senate , would designate foods that make an inaccurate claim about milk contents as “misbranded” and subject to enforcement of labeling rules. It would require FDA to issue guidance for nationwide enforcement of mislabeled imitation dairy products within 90 days of its passage and require FDA to report to Congress two years after enactment to hold the agency accountable in its enforcement. The legislation would force FDA to act against plant-based imitators of milk, cheese, butter and other products that brazenly flout FDA rules.

Newly confirmed FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn has voiced his support for “clear, transparent, and understandable labeling for the American people.” Still, given the agency’s inability to follow up on earlier pledges to act, NMPF is calling for DAIRY PRIDE’s passage as a vehicle to require FDA action. 

U.S. Wheat Associates Launches 40th Anniversary Campaign

On January 12, 1980, wheat farmer leaders with Great Plains Wheat and Western Wheat Associates officially merged to become one organization, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), to focus on building overseas demand for U.S. wheat. To mark its 40-year anniversary in 2020, USW has launched an outreach effort to recognize and celebrate the people who produce the wheat and their enduring partnerships with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, wheat buyers and wheat food processors around the world.

“This anniversary is a platform for us to reinforce our authentic story—that behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people,” said Steve Mercer, USW Vice President of Communications. “In online media, new marketing materials and face to face with overseas wheat buyers, we are going to talk about the legacy of commitment from farmers and the important partnerships that are a unique and differential part of importing U.S. wheat.”

The primary component of the USW campaign is a new landing page on titled “Our Story.” The page includes historical background and profiles of U.S. wheat farm families and overseas customers. The campaign also features a new video that defines the value created by farmers, the U.S. wheat export supply system and the service the USW organization offers to flour millers and wheat food processors around the world.

“Many of the millers and bakeries USW works with overseas are also family-owned and going through the same generational changes as U.S. farm families,” Mercer said. “That is one reason why we will emphasize past and present connections between our farmers and customers in those stories, through our Wheat Letter blog and in Facebook and Twitter posts as we continue to update content throughout 2020.”

USW’s mission is to “develop, maintain, and expand international markets to enhance wheat’s profitability for U.S. wheat producers and its value for their customers.” USW activities in more than 100 countries are made possible through producer checkoff dollars managed by 17 state wheat commissions and cost-share funding provided by the USDA/Foreign Agricultural Service.

ADM Reports Fourth Quarter Earnings of $0.90 per Share, $1.42 per Share on an Adjusted Basis
•  Net earnings of $504 million 

ADM (NYSE: ADM) today reported financial results for the quarter ended December 31, 2019.

“Our team delivered a solid fourth quarter, consistent with our expectations three months ago,” said Chairman and CEO Juan Luciano. “At the end of 2019, we can look back on a full year in which the team did a great job managing through some difficult external conditions while continuing to deliver innovative solutions for our customers.

“Looking ahead, we’re excited about the opportunities we see in 2020 and beyond. Our industry-leading array of products and solutions from nature is helping us give our customers an edge in meeting global demand in fast-growing consumer trend areas — from alternative proteins, to foods and beverages that enhance health, to unique products for pets. We expect market conditions to improve as the year progresses, particularly as impacts from the U.S.-China Phase 1 trade deal take hold. More importantly, another year of expected 20-plus percent growth in Nutrition profitability, combined with our work to improve business performance, advance Readiness, and harvest our growth investments, give us confidence in strong results in 2020 and the years to come.”

Results of Operations

Ag Services & Oilseeds results were higher year over year, and included approximately $270 million net operating profit impact from the passage of the biodiesel tax credit (BTC) for 2018 and 2019.
    Ag Services results were slightly lower year over year. In North America, a delayed U.S. harvest contributed to lower export volumes and correspondingly lower margins, partially offset by South America results, which benefited from improved margins driven by good export demand and farmer selling.
    In Crushing, margins overall remained solid, though substantially lower than the near-record levels last year caused by the short 2018 Argentine soybean crop. Negative timing impacts this quarter versus positive timing impacts in the prior-year quarter also contributed to lower year-over-year results.
    Refined Products and Other results were substantially higher. The impact of the passage of the retroactive biodiesel tax credit for 2018 and 2019 was a major driver. Absent the BTC, results were strong and higher year over year, as the business benefited from strong global demand for both biodiesel and food oils. The Algar Agro acquisition in Brazil, which was completed in December 2018, also contributed to results.
    Wilmar results were slightly higher year over year.

Carbohydrate Solutions results were lower than the fourth quarter of 2018.
    Starches and Sweeteners results were up year over year, driven by reductions in manufacturing costs and higher income from co-products in North America, partially offset by continued margin pressures in EMEAI. Stronger global wheat milling results also helped contribute to segment performance.
    Bioproducts results were down, largely due to continued unfavorable ethanol industry margins.

Nutrition results were substantially higher year over year.
    WFSI results were significantly higher than the prior-year quarter. Strong sales and margins for WILD in North America, EMEAI and APAC drove results for the quarter. In Specialty Ingredients, lower sales volumes and margins in emulsifiers and reduced margins in edible beans were partially offset by continued margin growth in proteins. Health & Wellness results benefited from a new strategic agreement for ADM fermentation capacity.
    Animal Nutrition was up substantially versus the prior-year period. Neovia continued to contribute positively to results, partially offset by continued losses in lysine due to a weak global pricing environment.

Other results were up significantly year over year. Captive insurance results were negative, but substantially better than the fourth quarter of 2018. ADM Investor Services results were higher versus the prior-year period.

Consumers Can’t Define Pesticides, Research Shows: Why That Doesn’t Matter

New research shows the online conversation around pesticides is expected to explode by 212 percent over the next two years, even though consumers aren’t sure what pesticides are. New findings from The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) illustrate the confusion and growing concern around crop protection products and the lesson for agriculture that definitions don’t matter.    

The study, which analyzed millions of U.S. consumer interactions online in real time to understand motivations, values, fears and maturity of trends, shows that often consumers talk about pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and insecticides as part of the same conversation. The research suggests that these types of products are viewed as part of the same category. 

They’re also talking about two topics: the harm and toxicity for human consumption and alternative farming practices that reduce the need for pesticides, specifically GMOs and organic farming.  

Definitions Don’t Matter
“Understandably, it’s frustrating when the public doesn’t understand the ins and outs of producing food. But it’s not realistic to expect them to,” said Terry Fleck, CFI executive director. “And while the industry can get caught up in trying to ‘educate’ consumers about science, the fact that consumers can’t differentiate between a pesticide and fungicide doesn’t really matter.”    

Currently, 20.5 million U.S. consumers are engaging online in the conversation about pesticides, according to the study, a number projected to grow to 63.9 million over the next two years.

“Clearly the predicted increase in the discussion reflects a real and meaningful level of concern, one that has nothing to do with science or definitions,” said Fleck.

At the heart of the issue is consumer concern about food safety, the environment and “big ag,” said Fleck. As CFI’s past trust research has shown, there’s a fear the agriculture industry will put profit ahead of principle. Fleck said consumers are simply putting pesticides in the bucket of “bad industrial chemicals” – any chemical used on food that should be avoided at all cost. He compares it to the GMO issue.

“Many of us have seen and chuckled at the Jimmy Kimmel Live show video when shoppers at a farmers market take a stab at explaining GMOs. Most can’t define them. But they do fear them,” said Fleck. “Rightly so, consumers are concerned about how their food is grown. In the end, they want safe, wholesome, affordable food that is grown in a way that protects people, animals and the planet.”

Ditch the Dictionary
Instead of pointing consumers to a dictionary, Fleck recommends that those involved in growing food engage in conversations that authentically and transparently speak to the topics consumers value most.

Demonstrate how agriculture cares for the environment and is reducing the use of crop protection products. Engage on the topic of food safety and how the industry is continually striving to produce food more responsibly every day.    

Use analogies consumers can relate to like the use of bug spray in homes to controls spiders or products used on lawns that control weeds.

“Farmers do the same thing, but with much more precision,” he said. “Explain the advances that allow farmers to precisely map fields so they can apply exactly what’s needed, where it’s needed, when it’s needed.”

The survey details a consumer who is leery of “corporate collusion,” believes society can overcome human limitations through technological innovations and doesn’t want to be a silent bystander.

“With the advancements being made and the values that underly every decision, agriculture is in a perfect position to communicate in a way that breaks down the “big is bad” stereotype, highlights new technology helping the industry make great strides and empowers consumers to feel good about – not fear – what’s happening on today’s farms,” said Fleck.

For more information on CFI digital ethnography research, visit