Saturday, February 29, 2020

Friday February 28 Ag News

 NE Senators Concerned About Lifting of Brazilian Beef Ban

U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, joined a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues in signing a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue expressing concerns over the agency’s recent decision to lift the U.S. ban on Brazilian raw beef imports.

“Given that the United States halted Brazilian raw beef imports less than one year after Brazil was granted access in 2016, we have serious concerns about Brazil’s ability to maintain adequate food safety standards over the long run,” the letter reads.

The U.S. cited concerns over public health, poor sanitary conditions, and animal health when it last halted Brazilian raw beef imports in 2017.

The letter was led by Senator Thune (R-S.D.), and also signed by Senators Tester (D-Mont.), Daines (R-Mont.), Moran (R-Kan.), Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Rounds (R-S.D.), Cramer (R-N.D.), Hoeven (R-N.D.), Enzi (R-Wyo.), Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Booker (D-N.J.), Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Peters (D-Mich).

 9th Annual NE Innovative Youth Corn Challenge

Do you enjoy being outside and earning new things about crops? Are you considering a career involving crops, insects, diseases, soils, water or more? Do you want to help figure out how to feed our world's growing population in a sustainable way?

Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Corn Board are offering the Ninth Innovative Youth Corn Challenge contest. This contest, open to 4-H members (age 10 & older as of Jan. 1st) or FFA members (in-school members), guides participants through all aspects of corn production, as well as agricultural careers related to corn production.

As a team (2 or more participants), youth will be challenged to implement a production practice different than normal to determine if they increased their yield. Economics and sustainability of the practice will also be considered. Yields, cropping history, and production information will be collected in the Corn Yield Challenge management summary.

Cash prizes and plaques are given. First place receives $1,000, second place receives $500, and third place receives $250. Sustainability, crop scouting and "extra mile" awards are also given as cash awards.   

To participate in 2020, youth must register by March 15th to the Fillmore County Extension Office in Geneva, NE. Details can be found at the CropWatch youth activities page. For more information, contact Brandy VanDeWalle at

New NebGuide - Crop Management to Reduce Soil Nitrous Oxide Emissions in Nebraska

A new NebGuide, G2322, authored by Bijesh Maharjan, Virginia Jin, Laila Puntel, Javed Iqbal, Tyler Williams, Humberto Blanco and Charles Wortmann, is available in both html and PDF formats.

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is the greenhouse gas most associated with crop production. This NebGuide covers basic information about nitrous oxide. It addresses the following practices for effects on soil N2O emission with considerations of cost-effectiveness.

1.    Avoid excessive irrigation for no-cost reduction of N2O emission.

2.    Reduce fertilizer-N applied and the amount of residual soil nitrate-N
        Reduce fertilizer-N rates to the most profitable rates for no-cost reduction of N2O emission
        Apply N at 25 lb/ac below the most profitable rate for very low-cost reduction of N2O emission
        In-season N application for sandy loam or sandier soil, often for no-cost or low-cost reduction of N2O emission
        Better crediting of manure-N for no-cost reduction of N2O emission
        Less corn-corn, often for no-cost reduction of N2O emission, and
        Alfalfa in rotation, especially in community wellhead protection areas, often for no-cost reduction of N2O emission.

3.    Well-targeted double cropping and cover crops with some costs for reduction of N2O emission

4.    Timely and well-targeted nitrification inhibitor use with some costs for reduction of N2O emission

5.    Corn stover harvest, often for no-cost reduction of N2O emission.

6.    Tillage effects on N2O emission have been inconsistent with inconclusive results.

Most of the practices for reducing soil emission of N2O will also result in reductions of other losses of N to the environment, including reduced leaching of nitrate beyond the depth of crop rooting zones. Much reduction can be achieved with a gain in profit or at no cost while other practices do have some cost.

Funding Available from USDA to Protect Groundwater

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has funding available through its Source Water Protection Initiative to help landowners install conservation practices. Interested landowners have until March 13, 2020, to apply.

Craig Derickson, state conservationist for NRCS in Nebraska said, “Since nearly all Nebraskans get their drinking water from groundwater, it’s important we work together to help protect this resource from contamination. This designated funding provides an opportunity for landowners to receive financial assistance to install conservation practices that help protect and improve water quality.”

The Source Water Protection priority area consists of 522 wellhead protection areas across the state that are located around the public well sites supplying water for communities in Nebraska. In addition, the Phase 2-4 high nitrate areas and water quantity management areas that are managed by the NRDs have been included in this initiative.

“The Source Water Protection Initiative is an exciting opportunity to improve and protect groundwater resources in Nebraska,” said Marty Link, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy. “We look forward promoting this program with NRCS to help communities protect their drinking water supplies.”

Agricultural land located in the source water protection priority areas (see map) may be eligible to receive financial assistance. Nebraska NRCS is now accepting applications for source water protection funding. Approved applicants can receive funding to install conservation practices used to address water quality, that include:
    Nutrient management
    Irrigation water management
    Cover crops
    Conversion of flood to pivot or subsurface drip irrigation systems.

NRCS field office staff can determine if applicants are eligible for SWP priority area financial assistance. Applications are accepted anytime, but to receive funding this year, applications must be received by March 13, 2020. Visit your local NRCS field office to learn more.

Nebraska Extension Survey for Beginning Female Farmers & Ranchers

Nebraska Extension is committed to providing quality services for Nebraska agricultural producers. We are asking for your help to let us know how we can better serve the needs of beginning female farmers and ranchers in Nebraska. If you will spend just 15 minutes of your time to complete the survey, we will have information that can be used to deliver high-quality programs.

The USDA defines beginning farmers or ranchers as someone with 10 years or less of active farming/ranching as the principal operator.

In order to gather all of the information needed, we welcome and encourage service providers, established farmers, and industry providers to complete the survey. Your individual responses are confidential. To thank you for completing the survey and as a thank you for your time we are giving away Women in Agriculture tote bags. A total of 30 bags will be awarded, selected at random from the completed surveys.

Take the survey here... 

Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey and assist Nebraska Extension in our programming efforts to help beginning farmers and ranchers in Nebraska.

Supporting teachers, supporting youth

One of the Nebraska Corn Board’s (NCB) four main pillars is education, and the board works to develop and implement educational programs with an impact. Over its 42-year history, NCB has helped people of all ages and backgrounds better understand the state’s corn industry. As fewer people are growing up and residing in rural areas, a larger gap exists between consumer and producer, which is why NCB identified youth as an important audience to reach through its education efforts.

Earlier this year, NCB approved three new education initiatives to support teachers and students across Nebraska. Through each initiative, NCB will partner with other groups to expand reach, avoid duplication and promote implementation into actual classroom settings.

The “Nebraska Soil Summer Institute” is a partnership between the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), Lincoln Public Schools and NCB. Through this pilot program, high school science teachers will take part in a two-week summer workshop. Throughout the two weeks, the teachers will get an in-depth training in soil science concepts, hands-on experiments and learning activities. Teacher participants will then develop curriculum for their science classrooms that meet state science standards and can be utilized by other teachers.

“Soil science integrates multiple disciplines such as biology, chemistry and physics,” said Dr. Martha Mamo, head of UNL’s Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. “By training science teachers in soil science, we support science education and strengthen agricultural education across the state.”

“Learn, Then Do” is a collaborative effort between the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation (NFBF), LPS and NCB. This program began as part of a grant from the national Ag in the Classroom program. Through this program, 20 high school science teachers will take part in a three-day workshop. As part of the program, the teachers will take part in various lessons and field trips to better understand how agriculture can be incorporated into their science courses. Teachers will then work with a national curriculum expert to develop lessons that meet Nebraska’s state science standards.

“Recently, Nebraska modified its state science standards, which are now modeled after and closely align with the Next Generation Science Standards, or NGSS,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of NFBF. “This puts us in a unique position because there isn’t that much curriculum available at this time that meets NGSS standards. By being on the forefront and developing this content now, we can reach teachers who are looking for these materials, and they’re all based on agricultural concepts. We’re thankful for the support from the Nebraska Corn Board who recognize the importance of exposing teachers and students to agriculture.”

The final project, “Making the Connection: An Agricultural Literacy Conference,” is a partnership between NFBF and NCB. This conference will bring together a variety of Nebraska educators who are wanting to incorporate agriculture into their programs. Participants could include teachers, Nebraska Extension educators and youth leaders. One key goal of the program is to demonstrate the partnerships between Nebraska commodity organizations, UNL, Nebraska Extension and NFBF, and show how high-quality resources and activities from multiple sources can be used to build a meaningful agricultural literacy program.

“We know we are stronger together,” said Brandon Hunnicutt, vice chair of NCB and farmer from Giltner. “By partnering with groups like the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, Lincoln Public Schools and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, our goal is to reach teachers and students across the state with meaningful agricultural curriculum. We know this is the start of something great. Something we can continue to build upon and make stronger.”


All layers in Nebraska during January 2020 totaled 9.17 million, up from 8.45 million the previous year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Nebraska egg production during January totaled 228 million eggs, up from 223 million in 2019. January egg production per 100 layers was 2,486 eggs, compared to 2,634 eggs in 2019.

Iowa Chicken and Eggs

Iowa egg production during January 2020 was 1.49 billion eggs, up slightly from last month and up 1 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average number of all layers on hand during January 2020 was 58.7 million, down slightly from last month but up 1 percent from last year. Eggs per 100 layers for January were 2,535, up 1 percent from both last month and last year.

January Egg Production Up 1 Percent

United States egg production totaled 9.73 billion during January 2020, up 1 percent from last year. Production included 8.51 billion table eggs, and 1.22 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.14 billion were broiler-type and 86.0 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during January 2020 averaged 403 million, up slightly from last year. January egg production per 100 layers was 2,415 eggs, up 1 percent from January 2019.

All layers in the United States on February 1, 2020 totaled 401 million, down slightly from last year. The 401 million layers consisted of 336 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 61.1 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.28 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on February 1, 2020, averaged 77.9 eggs per 100 layers, up 1 percent from February 1, 2019.


The Nebraska Brand Committee has selected John Widdowson of Kearney, Nebraska as its new Executive Director.

Widdowson is a fifth-generation family farmer and rancher who has been actively involved in ranching most of his life. Widdowson holds a degree in Animal Science from the University of Nebraska­ Lincoln and has first -hand knowledge of the needs of Nebraska's cattle producers. Widdowson has served on the Governor's Ag Committee and has served on the five-member Nebraska Brand Committee since 2015, most recently serving as the Committee' s Chair before his resignation from that position to become the Committee's full-time Executive Director. While on the Committee, Widdowson spearheaded efforts to modernize the Committee, including the Committee's move to electronic brand recording and recordkeeping.

The vacancy was created by the resignation of former Executive Director Bill Bunce in August of 2017. Since then longtime Committee employee Dave Horton has been serving as the interim Executive Director. Horton will remain employed by the Committee as its Chief Investigator.

The Committee spent significant time over the past year identifying and selecting its next leader and developing a new Strategic Plan to guide the Committee and its staff in the years to come. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture assisted with the selection process, and interviews of finalists by Committee members occurred in early February.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts praised the decision: "Congratulations to the Brand Committee on the hiring of John Widdowson as their next executive director. The brand plays an important role in Nebraska's ranching community, and John will do a great job leading the committee into the future."

Current members of the Nebraska Brand Committee are: Vice Chair Adam Sawyer, Bassett; Terry Cone, Burwell; Jay Martindale, Brewster; and Chris Gentry, Hyannis. Governor Ricketts will appoint Widdowson's successor as a voting member of the Committee, and the Committee will hold an election of a new Chair at its next regular meeting scheduled for March 17, 2020 in Broken Bow, Nebraska.

Read, Watch or Listen to Important Options on Risk Management

Managing risk will continue to be a key part of farm profitability in 2020 and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is providing farmers with a wide range of risk management tools to help make the process more understandable.

The February edition of Ag Decision Maker contains four risk management articles, along with accompanying videos that allow producers to watch and listen to each specialist describe each tool.

Topics include the “Basics of Crop Insurance,” featuring Gary Wright, farm management specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach; and “Small- to Medium-Sized Cattle Feeders,” featuring Tim Christensen, ISU Extension and Outreach field specialist.

“Comparing Farmland Returns to Stock Market Investments” is presented by Kelvin Leibold, farm management specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach; and “Farm Financial Performance Analysis” is led by Charles Brown, also a farm management specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach.

The risk management articles and videos were made available through a grant and partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency.

A webinar series on risk management topics will be held on Tuesdays in March, according to Madeline Schultz, program manager for ISU Extension and Outreach Women in Ag.

The goal of the videos and the webinar, Schultz said, is to provide another way of reaching producers and explaining these complex and important topics.

“It’s another opportunity to share more about the different kinds of risk management available and the different risk management topics,” Schultz said.

Topics for the March webinar series will include trade with China (March 3), substitute decision making (March 10), comparing farmland returns to the stock market (March 17), and late and prevented planting lessons learned in 2019 (March 24).

The webinars will be held at noon, and participants should pre-register.

Schultz said the specialists helping to produce the videos and webinar have been supportive of the additional outreach opportunity.

“They’ve been excited about meeting an audience need and getting this information out in different ways,” she said.

Vet Medicine Study Develops New Cattle Vaccine Method

Researchers at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, in collaboration with Iowa State University, have developed a new vaccine delivery platform to produce long-lasting protection against anaplasmosis infections.

Bovine anaplasmosis, caused by the blood-borne parasite Anaplasma marginale, is the most prevalent tick-transmitted disease of cattle worldwide and causes significant disease loss to beef producers in the United States.

"Currently, a common strategy to control anaplasmosis is to provide mineral or feed containing the antibiotic chlortetracycline to cattle on pasture," said Andrew Curtis, doctoral research assistant in the laboratory of Hans Coetzee, professor and head of the anatomy and physiology department.

"This practice has raised concerns about the potential emergence of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria that may pose a risk to human and animal health," Curtis said. "Although there is an experimental vaccine available to control anaplasmosis, it requires multiple injections and it has not been evaluated in published research studies."

The objective of the College of Veterinary Medicine study was to develop a single-dose implant vaccine platform that provides long-term immunity against anaplasmosis infections by releasing vaccine contents over an extended period.

This new single-dose vaccine, which is administered in the back of the ear, has been shown to protect against clinical anaplasmosis for up to two years and could potentially help make anaplasmosis control more accessible and convenient to livestock producers, Curtis said.

"The concept of providing cattle with a single vaccine implant that could potentially provide lifelong protection against an economically devastating disease, such as bovine anaplasmosis, could revolutionize livestock production," Coetzee said.

Iowa State University currently holds a patent for the implant platform and the K-State/Manhattan Innovation Center is exploring a partnership with Iowa State to further develop this technology.

The first step to a commercially available product would include finding a commercial partner to seek approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In addition to Curtis and Coetzee, K-State researchers involved with the project include Miriam Martin, Brandt Skinner, Shawnee Montgomery, Tippawan Anantatat, Kathryn E. Reif, Majid Jaberi-Douraki, Emily J. Reppert and Michael Kleinhenz. Researchers from Iowa State include Sean Kelly, Balaji Narasimhan and Douglas Jones.

This project was supported in part by the Iowa Livestock Health Advisory Council and the faculty start-up funding provided by Kansas State University.

The study, "Rapid Communication: Development of a subcutaneous ear implant to deliver an anaplasmosis vaccine to dairy steers," was published in the Journal of Animal Science.

Perdue Directs USDA Fleet to Increase Biofuels Usage, Announces Notice of Funding for Biofuels Infrastructure Program

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued a memo today directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to acquire alternative fueled vehicles (AFV) when replacing conventionally fueled vehicles. USDA owns and operates one of the largest civilian fleets in the Federal Government and this move to a fleet that can use E85 or biodiesel will increase efficiencies and performance. Additionally, as part of the President Donald J. Trump’s October agreement to seek opportunities to facilitate the availability of higher biofuel blends across the country, USDA will make $100 million in grants available this year for the newly created Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). Through this program, transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities will be able to apply for grants to help install, retrofit, and/or upgrade fuel storage, dispenser pumps, related equipment and infrastructure to be able to sell ethanol and biodiesel. The Department plans to publish application deadlines and other program information in the Federal Register this spring.

“Both of these actions underscore USDA is putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to increased biofuels usage. Expanding nationwide infrastructure that offers biofuels and increasing the number of biofuel capable vehicles in our fleet will increase the use of environmentally friendly fuel with decreased emissions, driving demand for our farmers and improving the air we breathe,” Secretary Perdue said. “President Trump is fighting for our corn and soybean growers and biofuel producers by finalizing year-round E15, ensuring that more than 15 billion gallons of ethanol and 2.43 billion gallons of biodiesel enters the market in 2020, and opening up new markets abroad. USDA will continue to do its part to encourage the use of homegrown energy.”
Background on Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP):

HBIIP will consist of up to $100 million in funding for competitive grants or sales incentives to eligible entities for activities designed to expand the sales and use of ethanol and biodiesel fuels. Funds will be made directly available to assist transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities with converting to higher ethanol and biodiesel blends by sharing the costs related to and/or offering sales incentives for the installation of fuel pumps, related equipment, and infrastructure. Cost-share grants and/or incentives will be made available for higher fuel ethanol/biodiesel blends such as “E15” and “B20” (or higher), at vehicle fueling locations, including, but not limited to, local fueling stations, convenience stores (CS), hypermarket fueling stations (HFS), and/or fleet facilities, as well as fuel terminals for biodiesel. Prospective participants and stakeholders should expect additional specific program information and requirements to be published by mid-spring which will clarify the application process, eligibility, and how applications for grant funding will be scored.
Background on USDA Fleet:

USDA owns and operates one of the largest civilian fleets in the Federal Government. USDA is moving to acquire E85- or biodiesel-capable vehicles that meet USDA mission requirements instead of those that take conventional gasoline. This will occur over time during the normal fleet renewal process. USDA currently has 37,000 vehicles and replaces approximately 3,000 every year. Secretary Perdue directed USDA to:
    Acquire E85 or biodiesel-capable vehicles that meet USDA mission requirements;
    Use station locator websites and applications to fuel with E15, E85, and biodiesel where available;
    Prioritize the purchase of E15 for gasoline vehicles without E85 capability and the purchase of renewable diesel blends for diesel vehicles without B20 capability; and
    For USDA locations that have in-house refueling pumps, coordinate with fuel vendors to acquire and provide biofuel blends, including E15, E85, B20 and higher biodiesel blends, and renewable diesel blends.

These actions have the potential to increase USDA’s annual consumption of E15 by up to 9 million gallons, E85 by 10 million gallons, and biodiesel and renewable diesel blends by up to 3 million gallons. As availability of E15, E85, and biodiesel expands through the nation, USDA has the opportunity to reach these goals and have a significant impact. Where biofuels are available, the USDA fleet is directed to use biofuels.
Background on USDA’s Agricultural Innovation Agenda:

Earlier this month, Secretary Perdue unveiled the Agricultural Innovation Agenda, a department-wide initiative to align resources, programs, and research to position American agriculture to better meet future global demands. Investing in the availability of innovative fuels for American consumers supports this vision while we fulfill our motto to “Do Right and Feed Everyone.” 

USDA Secretary Rolls Out Robust Higher Blends Biofuels Infrastructure Program at Commodity Classic

Today while speaking at the 2020 Commodity Classic, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the USDA will provide $100 million in competitive, cost-share grants for the new Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) to help increase the number of fuel stations and terminals across the country offering higher blends of biofuels.

USDA is expected to publish application deadlines and program details this spring.

“We are excited to see Secretary Perdue and USDA move expeditiously to implement a key part of President Trump’s plan to repair the damage caused by RFS refinery exemptions that was announced last October,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw. “This program is going to assist substantially in helping fuel stations and terminals across the country add the necessary infrastructure of offer higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel. We look forward to working alongside the administration to ensure the successful implementation of the program.”

The drastic increase in the number of refinery exemptions from the renewable fuels standard (RFS) granted by EPA over the last three years destroyed roughly four billion gallons of biofuels demand and caused a major uproar in farm country. On October 4, 2019, EPA announced a number of steps the Trump Administration would take to repair the damage, including an infrastructure program by USDA. The EPA announcement can be found here:

“As we work with the USDA on infrastructure, we stand ready to work with EPA to begin building on the President’s earlier decision to allow year-round sales of E15 by initiating a rulemaking process to streamline labeling and remove other barriers to the sale of E15,” stated Shaw. “This action should move in concert with the infrastructure program to maximize the positive impact of President Trump’s commitments.”

USDA’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program Good for Iowa’s Renewable Fuels Industry

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig issued the following statement in response to the USDA’s proposed Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) announced earlier today.

“The proposed Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program from USDA would give consumers more choices at the pump, create more jobs in rural communities and benefit our farmers,” said Secretary Naig. “This USDA program would build upon Iowa’s Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program, which has been tremendously successful. For every dollar the state has invested in renewable fuel infrastructure, it has spurred nearly $6 in private investments. Now consumers have access to E15 at 1,800 fuel retailers in Iowa.”

On Jan. 31, 2020, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Secretary Naig sent a joint letter to USDA voicing support for the HBIIP.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program offers cost-share grants to help fuel retailers install E85 dispensers, blender pumps, biodiesel dispensers and biodiesel storage facilities. To date, the program has distributed or obligated over $33 million with $200 million added in private economic activity. The grant program is managed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Learn more about the state’s Renewable Fuels Infrastructure program at

USDA Announces $100 Million in Funding for Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue announced today the department is providing $100 million in competitive grants for infrastructure projects to facilitate increased sales of higher biofuel blends through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued a statement of support following USDA’s announcement:

“We are grateful for USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue for this commitment to expanding infrastructure and access to higher blends of biofuels. Through the original Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership grants and private fundraising, Growth Energy and Prime the Pump have worked with 14 of the largest retailers to install more than 2,000 retail locations across the nation, expanding consumer access to Unleaded 88, fuel blended with fifteen percent ethanol. Secretary Perdue’s announcement today helps propel higher biofuel blends into the next decade, and Prime the Pump’s retail partners are ready to embrace this new wave of growth.”

USDA is exploring options to expand domestic ethanol and biodiesel availability and announced a request for 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.

RFA Thanks USDA for Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Grant Program, Fleet Directive

While speaking to participants at the Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue today unveiled the details of a new Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. Under the program, USDA will make available up to $100 million in competitive, cost share grants for activities designed to expand the sale and use of renewable fuels. The program will help significantly increase the sale and use of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel by expanding the infrastructure for renewable fuels derived from U.S. agricultural products.

In addition to the announcement on HBIIP, Secretary Perdue directed USDA to increase the use of renewable fuels in the departments 37,000 vehicle fleet. Perdue directed his department to acquire alternative fueled vehicles when replacing conventionally fueled vehicles. USDA owns and operates one of the largest civilian fleets in the federal government and this move to a fleet that can use E85 or biodiesel will increase efficiencies and performance. These actions, he noted, have the potential to increase USDA's annual consumption of E15 by 9 million gallons, E85 by 10 million gallons, and biodiesel and renewable diesel blends by 3 million gallons.

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper made the following statement:

“Leadership manifests itself in actions, not words. And today’s announcement by Secretary Perdue is all about taking definitive action to expand the market for biofuels, grow demand for farm commodities, and offer lower-cost, cleaner fuel options to consumers. On behalf of the U.S. ethanol industry, I thank Secretary Perdue and President Trump for their continued commitment to America’s farmers and renewable fuels industry.”

NBB Applauds Agriculture Secretary Perdue's Leadership on Higher Biodiesel Blends

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) today welcomed Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue's announcement of $100 million funding for Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) grants, approximately $14 million of which will go to support biodiesel blending. NBB also applauded Perdue's announcement of USDA's commitment to fuel its fleet vehicles with higher blends of biodiesel and renewable diesel.

Kurt Kovarik, NBB's VP of Federal Affairs, said, "NBB's members appreciate Secretary Perdue's strong support for soybean growers and biodiesel producers and USDA's leadership in driving demand for higher blends of biodiesel and renewable diesel. The grant program that USDA is announcing will expand consumers' access to cleaner, better transportation and heating fuels, such as biodiesel and renewable diesel. USDA's fleet program can add significant market pull for those biofuels simply by utilizing available data on where to fill up."

USDA owns 3,700 diesel fuel vehicles; but currently, its biofuel purchases are less than 4% of its annual fuel use. The agency anticipates increasing its purchase of biodiesel and renewable diesel blends by up to 3 million gallons.

AMVAC® Announces 10 New Products in 2020

AMVAC, an American Vanguard® company, announces 10 new products in 2020. The announcement is a result of the corporation's successful legacy of acquisitions and its "Innovation with Speed and Discipline" product development process, concentrating on specific, customer-focused solutions.

"AMVAC's recent product innovations have strengthened our crop protection portfolio allowing us to offer growers more trusted solutions. Our '10 in 2020' demonstrates the aggressive pace of AMVAC's continued success in offering growers products that solve their challenges," saidSenior Vice President of U.S. Crop Sales, Canada and Application Technology Scott Hendrix.

New products to AMVAC include a recent acquisition of four herbicide brands from Corteva Agriscience™. These products are complementary tank-mix partners for a variety of primary herbicides used in the U.S agricultural market. They are particularly valuable for enhancing weed control performance against increasing numbers of troublesome weed species. The products include:
-    Classic® Herbicide: Expands the postemergence weed control spectrum in soybeans.
-    FirstRate® Herbicide: Provides preemergence and postemergence control of key broadleaf weeds in soybeans.
-    Hornet® Herbicide: Delivers postemergence broadleaf weed control of glyphosate resistant weeds in field corn.
-    Python® Herbicide: Allows flexible broadleaf weed control in soybeans and field corn.

AMVAC also announces the developmental product Impact CORE™ Herbicide, a postemergence corn herbicide combining effective modes of action from a Group 15 residual herbicide with the power of Impact® Herbicide. Field studies have shown extended residual weed control in addition to control of more than 40 emerged annual grass and broadleaf weeds, including several glyphosate-resistant weeds. EPA registration of the product is expected in the first quarter of 2020.

In addition, AMVAC will soon launch a new glufosinate premix. This developmental product uses a proprietary formulation technology to combine the active ingredient found in Impact Herbicide to provide postemergence weed control in LibertyLink® corn. Registration of the herbicide is also expected in the first quarter of 2020.

AMVAC has selected COUNTER® Insecticide/Nematicide, broad spectrum AZTEC® HC Insecticide and zinc, a key micronutrient in corn, as the first products to be packaged in SmartCartridge™ containers and offered as part of SIMPAS™ Applied Solutions, pending EPA registration. SIMPAS (Smart Integrated Multi-Product Application System) is being introduced in a few select markets in 2020. A full launch is planned in 2021.

In addition, AMVAC recently announced its new herbicide - Surepyc IQ™ - a combination of two powerful chemistries for control of tough broadleaves and sedges in warm season turf. It's the first line-extension for the Surepyc brand.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Thursday February 27 Ag News

Central Valley Ag Announces Casey Potter as SVP of Grain

Central Valley Ag (CVA) is pleased to announce Casey Potter as Senior Vice President of Grain. He will be responsible for leading the grain division of CVA, focused on providing the best markets to local producers in the challenging grain marketing environment. Potter joined CVA in 2019 as the Merchandising Manager and was previously the Commercial Manager for the Columbus, Neb. ethanol plant for ADM.

“Casey has more than 19 year’s experience in the grain business focused around merchandising of grain and grain assets within the cooperative and public sectors,” said Carl Dickinson, CEO/President of Central Valley Ag. “I am very excited to have him join our leadership team. He has been a terrific asset to CVA over the past year and we look forward to having him take the lead of the grain department.”

Central Valley Ag’s grain division has access to every major market west of the Mississippi, allowing them to provide competitive bids to patrons. Potter will lead the CVA Grain Specialists who are the frontline grain buyers for the company. These individuals engage producers in everyday grain transactions, providing non-traditional contracting alternatives to find the best way for customers to sell their grain in addition to purchasing grain.

“I am excited to have the privilege to lead a talented group of people at CVA and be part of the cooperative system again,” said Potter. “I look forward to the responsibility of being a steward of CVA’s grain assets and the opportunity to continue to create value for our patrons.”

Potter holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and agribusiness from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Potter, his wife Jennifer, and their four children reside on their family’s farm outside of Valparaiso, Neb.

Nebraska Cattlemen and CIH are co-hosting an upcoming Beef Margin Management Seminar

Volatility in the cattle markets is becoming the norm. Are you equipped to take advantage of the swings in the fat cattle, feeder, and corn markets?

Join us to learn how to use all the tools available, along with the when and why. We’ll address everything from cash contracts, futures and options to protecting against a weakening cash basis.
-    Quantify price and basis exposures on cattle and feed
-    Balance the trade-off between risk and return potential
-    Adjust positions to leverage market moves and volatility

Dates and Times:
March 11th 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM and
March 12th 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Nebraska Cattlemen Office
4611 Cattle Drive
Lincoln, Nebraska

Price: $300

Registration fee includes breakfast, lunch, an evening cocktail reception and all seminar materials.  Limited seating! Call 1.866.299.9333 to reserve a seat. 

If you have any questions about this program please contact Bonita Lederer or voice/text @ 402-450-0223.

Ricketts Hosts Vietnamese Trade Delegation

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts welcomed a trade delegation from Vietnam to the State Capitol.  The delegation included top officials from Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as well as Vietnamese business leaders.  Gov. Ricketts and representatives from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture met with the trade delegation to discuss growing the friendship and trade relationship between the Cornhusker State and Vietnam.

During the delegation’s visit, Vietnamese companies signed several memorandums of understanding pledging to purchase Nebraska cattle, corn, distiller’s dried grain solubles, soybeans, and wheat.

The Vietnamese leaders’ visit to Nebraska comes less than six months after Governor Ricketts led a trade mission to Hanoi, Vietnam.  In 2018, Nebraska was Vietnam’s largest U.S. supplier of soybean meal and dry edible beans.  From 2017 to 2019, Nebraska’s beef exports to Vietnam grew 168 percent.  Total U.S. ag exports to Vietnam increased from $2.5 billion to $4.0 billion between 2017 and 2018.

Register for the 2020 World Pork Expo June 3-5 in Des Moines.

Registration is now open for the 2020 World Pork Expo presented by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). Attendees, media and exhibitors can complete their registration by visiting the World Pork Expo website. This year’s trade show will be hosted from June 3 to 5 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

“We are thrilled to continue the tradition of the World Pork Expo this year,” said David Herring, NPPC president, and pork producer from Lillington, N.C. “There’s truly something for everyone at the Expo — from the trade show to networking. Anyone in the pork industry is encouraged to attend!”

With 360,000 square feet of exhibition space, more than 500 exhibitors are planned for the 2020 World Pork Expo.

Continually Maximizing Indoor and Outdoor Trade Show Space

Organizers plan to take advantage of all the space available in order to give attendees and exhibitors the best experience possible. Of the 500 plus companies attending the show, they will be displaying products and services from animal health, nutrition, build and equipment, financial marketing, genetics and more.

The Expo will be held in the Varied Industries Building and the Jacobson Exhibition Center, outdoors on Grand Avenue and the areas between the two main buildings. Attendees are encouraged to explore the fairground space to experience all the Expo’s offerings.

“We’re currently making adjustments around the show to maximize the flow of the entire trade show. This will help with show continuity for years to come,” said Doug Fricke, director of trade show marketing for NPCC.

Company-sponsored hospitality tents will continue to be around throughout the fairgrounds. Organizers are expecting 60 plus tents this year, giving industry representatives an opportunity to network with producers and employees in a more relaxed setting.

The trade show will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 3-4, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 5.
Start Planning Your Expo Experience

The Expo is packed with three days of learning and networking opportunities, events and activities. More than 15 educational and informational seminars are free to attend. These seminars address innovative production and management strategies, and current issues and topics related to the pork industry.

Other activities you won’t want to miss include:
    MusicFest — Join us on Thursday evening to relax and enjoy free live music and refreshments. Stay tuned to find out who this year will feature!
    Big Grill — Stop by and enjoy a free pork lunch during all three days of the Expo. More than 10,000 lunches are served! Lunches are available between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
    NPPC Hospitality Tent — Visit one-on-one with NPPC board members and staff to learn about current legislation, regulation, and public policy issues that impact pork production.

Additional Registration Information

Registration is now available online until May 28. Tickets include entry to the Expo for all three days. Discounted rates are available during pre-registration including $10 per adult (ages 12 and up) and $1 for children (6 to 11 years old). Registration on-site will be $20 per adult. There is an on-site Friday-only option for $10.

Save the date for June 3-5 to visit Des Moines. Three days of education, fun, networking and delicious pork await you.


Nebraska's layer numbers during 2019 averaged 8.87 million, up 13 percent from the year earlier, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The annual average production per layer on hand in 2019 was 300 eggs, down 2 percent from 2018.

Nebraska egg production during the year ending November 30, 2019 totaled 2.66 billion eggs, up 11 percent from 2018.

Total number of chickens on hand on December 1, 2019 (excluding commercial broilers) was 11.2 million birds, up 10 percent from last year.

The total value of all chickens in Nebraska on December 1, 2019 was $42.5 million, up 2 percent from December 1, 2018. The average value decreased from $4.10 per bird on December 1, 2018, to $3.80 per bird on December 1, 2019.

USDA Chickens and Eggs 2019 Summary

United States Average Layers Up 1 Percent: Layers during 2019 averaged 400 million, up 1 percent from the year earlier. The annual average production per layer on hand in 2019 was 283 eggs, up 1 percent from 2018.

United States Egg Production Up 3 Percent: Egg production during the year ending November 30, 2019 totaled 113 billion eggs, up 3 percent from 2018. Table egg production, at 99.1 billion eggs, was up 3 percent from the previous year. Hatching egg production, at 14.2 billion eggs, was up 2 percent from 2018.

United States December 1 Chicken Inventory: The total inventory of chickens on hand on December 1, 2019 (excluding commercial broilers) was 532 million birds, down slightly from last year.

United States Total Value: The total value of all chickens on December 1, 2019 was $2.36 billion, up 2 percent from December 1, 2018. The average value increased from $4.32 per bird on December 1, 2018, to $4.43 per bird on December 1, 2019.

Growth Energy Welcomes Focus on Biofuels at Environment and Climate Hearing

Growth Energy thanked Representative Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) for pressing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Wheeler on efforts to restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Wheeler testified today about his agency’s 2020 priorities before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, where he assured rural champions that, “President Trump is fully committed to the RFS program.”

“We’re grateful to rural champions like Representative Dave Loebsack, who continue to press the EPA to enforce the RFS as promised by the president and required by law,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “We urge regulators to deliver certainty and stability for America’s farmers and biofuel producers by upholding the nation’s targets for low-carbon biofuels. That means quickly addressing the 23 exemption requests under review for 2019 and offering true transparency in accounting for each and every gallon. As recognized in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new innovation agenda, low-carbon biofuels are not only vital to the rural economy, they are a critical tool in our fight against climate change.”

USDA Is Pitting America's Family Ranchers Against Brazil's $1.2 Billion Subsidies to Its Cattle Industry

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) recently reported that the government of Brazil subsidizes Brazilian cattle production to the tune of about $1.2 billion in U.S. dollars. The purpose of the government subsidy is to increase Brazilian cattle raising productivity, its herd quality, and its acquisition of high-quality seed stock.

Last week the USDA announced it is opening the United States market to imports of fresh Brazilian beef, which is produced under the Brazilian government's subsidies.

"That will pit America's family cattle farmers and ranchers against Brazil's $1.2 billion in subsidies to its cattle industry," R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said adding, "That means our family farmers and ranchers will be competing against the Brazilian government's treasury."

According to the CME Group, a global securities and commodity exchange company, during the past two years, America's cattle farmers and ranchers have been receiving prices well below the previous five-year average. Bullard said the income paid to America's cow/calf producers was slashed nearly 20 percent last year compared to the average price they received during the five-year period from 2013 to 2017.

"It's hard to pay off loans when your income is slashed that drastically.

"This is causing a critically serious economic cost-price squeeze for America's cattle industry and unless prices improve quickly, the ongoing exodus of America's family cattle farmers and ranchers will be markedly accelerated," Bullard cautioned.

"The last thing America's family cattle farmers and ranchers need right now is a flood of subsidized beef from Brazil that will most certainly destroy economic opportunities for many of them," he said.

A Nov. 21, 2019, Reuters news article reported that November wholesale beef prices in Brazil were about $1.50 per pound in U.S. dollars. However, the USDA reports that U.S. wholesale beef prices in November were about $2.24 per pound.

Bullard says this means the Brazilian government's subsidies help exporters keep the price of Brazilian beef 33 percent below the cost of U.S. beef.

"This is not a level playing field and there is nothing about this that is fair to either U.S. cattle producers or consumers," he said.

When Congress repealed Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (M-COOL) for beef in 2015, it repealed the requirement that beef imports, such as those from Brazil, must retain their foreign label through retail sale, meaning all the way to the consumer.

Bullard says this means that consumers will be paying the higher U.S. price for beef, but the beef may very well be cheaper beef imported from Brazil.

"The Secretary of Agriculture's action of approving these subsidized Brazilian imports so they can undercut prices that America's cattle producers need to remain profitable and viable is unconscionable. At the very least Congress must intervene by restoring Mandatory COOL for beef so the U.S. industry can at least begin competing against this subsidized foreign beef," he concluded.

Wilbur-Ellis Company announces launch of new adjuvant EFFICAX®

Wilbur-Ellis Company, a recognized leader in precision agriculture, crop protection, seed and nutritional products, announced today the launch of EFFICAX, an adjuvant that helps growers optimize soil-applied residual herbicides.

EFFICAX is a soil retention adjuvant that helps growers' spray applications last longer by increasing the coverage, absorption and adhesion of the spray material deposits onto soil particles. This also improves the residual activity of most soil-applied herbicides, ensuring growers get the full benefit of products they've purchased for their fields.

EFFICAX can improve control of early-season weeds by getting more herbicide on target, holding it in place longer and ensuring herbicide investments are more efficient than ever. To add to these benefits, EFFICAX has excellent tank mix compatibility and can be used with most preferred herbicides.

"Efficax breaks new ground as a pre-emergent adjuvant that delivers optimum pesticide effectiveness," said Wilbur-Ellis' Senior Formulation Chemist Jim Glatzhofer. "It puts its tank mix partners at the right place at the right time - and helps the active ingredient work at its point of attack."

This press release is intended for informational use only and cannot be used as a replacement for the product label. Any products mentioned in this press release may only be sold in states where they are registered or where registration is not required. Please contact your local Wilbur-Ellis Representative for more information.

Wilbur-Ellis offers a complete line of agricultural inputs, including crop protection chemicals, organic and sustainable options, fertilizer, seed and technology. Family-owned since the beginning, nearly 100 years, the Company's local expertise, unparalleled knowledge and innovation-driven approach to the agriculture industry gives every Wilbur-Ellis grower the advantage they need for higher yields and a bigger return on investment.

Truterra, LLC and Syngenta collaborate to support growers with cutting-edge stewardship advancement capabilities

Truterra (formerly Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN) and Syngenta announced today that they are collaborating to offer a step-change in stewardship and conservation best practices for U.S. growers while helping them focus on maximizing acre-by-acre productivity and profitability.

This technology-based alliance will make use of data analytics from both the TruterraTM Insights Engine and the Syngenta AgriEdge® platform. The combined power of insights and expertise will help assess and improve soil health, carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas emissions, livestock lifecycle assessment and water management on American farms.

“We believe this long-term effort will enhance retailers’ experience when servicing growers that use the Truterra and AgriEdge systems,” said Jason Weller, vice president, Truterra, LLC. “In addition, Consumer Packaged Goods companies will have far greater visibility into their sourcing sustainability when working with both Syngenta and Truterra customers.”

“Teaming up our systems will reduce data entry for growers and retailers, and enable seamless data flow,” said Aaron Deardorff, Syngenta head of Digital Solutions in North America. “This capability will enable growers to establish a baseline stewardship level on each agricultural field and benchmark against other fields they farm, or those in their geography, with the appropriate level of grower data privacy.”

Through this collaboration, growers that elect to participate will receive insights on what practices would be beneficial in advancing their stewardship efforts and understand the implications on each field’s profitability potential. The greater geographic footprint of the Truterra and Syngenta alliance will help support sustainability goals of food companies with multi-geography sourcing.

Tommy Jackson, Syngenta Sustainable Solutions lead for Digital Solutions, added, “Ultimately, we are partnering to make stewardship more streamlined and consistent for U.S. growers to help them and food companies better quantify sustainability progress in the food and ag supply chain.”

“In time, we aim to be the leader in conservation and sustainability within the agricultural value chain and related non-governmental organizations,” said Weller.

HELM Agro US Hires Drew Stevenson as Regional Sales Manager

HELM Agro US, Inc., a global manufacturer of high-quality crop protection and fertilizer products, announces the hiring of Drew Stevenson as Regional Sales Manager for the Western Corn Belt.

In his new role, Stevenson will be responsible for territory development and HELM crop protection product sales across Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

“Drew has a proven track record in developing sales territories and creating customer relationships with staying power,” says Aaron Locker, Vice President of Sales with HELM Agro US. “As HELM works to aggressively expand its footprint across Midwest corn and soybean markets, Drew will be integral in reinforcing our distributor aligned and retailer focused strategies. His keen insights and agronomic knowledge will also help customers glean greater value from HELM products, especially as the Company brings new proprietary solutions to market over the next several years.”

Previously Stevenson worked for Valent USA as a Senior Sales Representative in the states of Kansas and Nebraska. Prior to that he served as a Precision Data Technology Specialist for Landmark Implement. Stevenson has also worked in agronomy sales for CHS, Inc. 

Stevenson holds a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. He currently resides in Selden, Kansas.

 Farm State of Mind Campaign to Expand Impact in Rural Mental Health

Bayer and the American Farm Bureau Federation announce the transition of Bayer’s Farm State of Mind campaign, an initiative to raise mental health awareness among the farming community, to Farm Bureau. The campaign aims to reduce stigma surrounding the topic of mental health in rural communities and to provide relevant information to farm families on this important topic. Farm Bureau plans to combine the Farm State of Mind assets with those of its ongoing Rural Resilience campaign, expanding the reach and effectiveness of its rural mental health initiatives.

Challenging weather, destructive pests, trade disputes, labor shortages and market volatility over the past few years have brought an unprecedented level of pressure on America’s farmers. A 2019 Farm Bureau survey shows that an overwhelming majority of farmers and farmworkers say financial issues, farm or business problems and fear of losing their farm negatively impact their mental health. In addition, 48% of rural adults said they are personally experiencing more mental health challenges than they were a year ago. Nearly one in three farmers doesn’t feel comfortable talking to friends or family members about solutions for a mental health condition.

“As a third-generation farmer, I’m familiar with the stress of farm life, and I’ve heard heartbreaking stories as I’ve traveled the country about warning signs missed and loved ones lost,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “We’d like to thank Bayer for taking the initiative around this important topic and are excited to expand our impact by growing this campaign to connect even more farmers and ranchers with the resources they need.”

Complicating this issue is that many farmers are reluctant to talk about the effects of stress or seek help. The Farm State of Mind initiative provides farmers with resources, encourages conversations and reduces the stigma surrounding the issue of mental health. Transitioning this program to an organization as trusted as Farm Bureau will greatly expand its reach and effectiveness among farmers.

“Bayer recognized the need to help raise awareness on the important issue of mental health in farm communities – these are difficult conversations to have and our heart goes out to those individuals and families who have been impacted. That’s why we developed the Farm State of Mind campaign,” says Lisa Safarian, President of Bayer Crop Science for North America. “It was important for us to provide information and resources on the topic to those who needed it, but we quickly realized that this issue is much bigger than any one single company and no group is better positioned than Farm Bureau to take the lead on this campaign to help realize its full potential.”

The campaign is designed to encourage an open dialogue among farmers through social channels and offers a variety of tips, resources and referrals to address mental health needs. Farm State of Mind has already reached millions of farmers across the country and that number continues to grow.

New Pioneer Seeds App Functionality Improves Customer Collaboration

Farmers have always chosen Pioneer for agronomic expertise, local service and industry-leading products. The latest update to the Pioneer Seeds app takes those services to the next level.

As farmers are cleaning up their shops, Pioneer is cleaning up their smart phones by consolidating the suite of Pioneer digital tools into one app – the Pioneer Seeds app. The Pioneer Seeds app is designed to complement the in-season service and support Pioneer is known for, ensuring maximum performance through integrated knowledge and actionable insights.

Pioneer is building on the success of the revolutionary Yield Estimator tool that launched in August 2019. Now farmers can quickly snap a picture of the Pioneer® brand seeds bag tag to receive:
-    Complete product profile
-    Trait scores
-    Best management strategies
-    Recommended planter settings

“Agriculture is complicated enough already,” said Jeremy Groeteke, U.S. Pioneer Digital Ag Lead. “The new and improved Pioneer Seeds app is a refreshingly easy way to manage and track what matters most in your operation. These new tools provide on-the go access to product knowledge and operational field data, which help farmers maximize genetic potential.”

Growers also can optimize seeding rates on their phone or tablet. The Pioneer Seeds app leverages the extensive Pioneer agronomy research database to provide seeding rate recommendations for economic and agronomic conditions.

To get started, download the app and leverage the basic features. To experience the next level of management, meet with your local Pioneer sales representative, who can help develop your field-by-field plans so you can access information on the app for the 2020 planting season. Download the Pioneer Seeds app at the in the Apple App Store® or on Google Play®

Helena Previews New Herbicide Technology for Corn and Soybeans at 2020 Commodity Classic

Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC introduced new herbicides for corn and soybeans today at the 2020 Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas. Empyros™ for corn and Antares® Complete for soybeans are innovative, pre-emergence herbicides designed to manage weed threats earlier when valuable resources are at stake. As weed resistance grows, Empyros and Antares Complete will empower crop protection programs with new active ingredients and unrivalled herbicide combinations.

“We’re in a battle with broadleaf and grassy weeds at the beginning of every growing season. If we don’t get out there and manage those weeds early, they can get the upper hand and challenge our corn and soybeans for the light, water, nutrients and ground they need to grow and thrive,” says Mark Wayland, Manager of Herbicide Brands at Helena. “Empyros and Antares Complete give us the versatility and strength we need to maintain an edge against early weed competition.”

Empyros is the first, broad-use corn herbicide from Helena, featuring a groundbreaking formulation of s-metolachlor and tolpyralate, the newest HPPD herbicide active ingredient in the United States. In flexible, pre- and early post-emergence applications, this patented pre-mix offers powerful knockdown and long residual control of broadleaf weeds and produces exceptional results against the toughest grasses in corn. Antares Complete is a multi-powered, pre-emergence herbicide for soybeans with an optimized combination of sulfentrazone, s-metolachlor and metribuzin. By uniting three, proven active ingredients in one, powerful premix, it eliminates early weed competition in all soybean cropping systems with long residual control of key broadleaf weeds and grasses.

“The introduction of Empyros and Antares Complete shows Helena’s commitment to standing with growers from planting to harvest,” says Phil Hollis, Executive Vice President at Helena. “These new herbicides help your crop emerge freely and establish, but our work doesn’t end there. We’re also focused on helping growers create well-rounded programs by talking about how soil health, foliar nutrition, adjuvant technology, and digital farming solutions can impact their success throughout the season.”

Helena is hosting daily learning sessions on these important agronomic topics every hour during the 2020 Commodity Classic, which concludes on Saturday, February 29. Empyros is anticipated for the 2021 growing season, and Antares Complete is anticipated for the 2020 growing season. Both are currently pending approval by the Environmental Protection Agency and state regulatory agencies. For more information, contact a Helena representative, or visit

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Wednesday February 26 Ag News

Area bank offers support for Northeast Community College’s Nexus project
Another area bank is throwing its financial support behind Northeast Community College’s plans to enlarge and enhance agriculture facilities on its Norfolk campus.

Rick Chochon, president of Great Plains State Bank, has announced that the bank would invest $25,000 in Northeast’s Nexus project.

“Agriculture will always be important in the state of Nebraska,” Chochon said, “and that’s never going to change. I think the innovation that Northeast Community College is coming up with is definitely going to help the ag sector moving forward. What they’re working toward with the Nexus project is well worth our investment.”

Great Plains State Bank was formed when an investment group headed by Chochon purchased the former Petersburg State Bank in 2016. Great Plains State now has facilities in Petersburg, O’Neill, Columbus and Omaha, with a new headquarters building under construction near 33rd Avenue and Lost Creek Parkway in Columbus.

“When building the Columbus facility, we have tried to use all local contractors. That’s why we’re here – to support local business,” Chochon said.

Agriculture loans are a major part of the portfolio of Great Plains State Bank, Chochon explained.

“We pride ourselves on the personal service other banks can only talk about.”

“We are pleased to welcome Great Plains State Bank as a partner in the Nexus project,” said Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast foundation. “Financial institutions in northeast Nebraska and elsewhere in the state recognize the importance of agriculture to the state’s economy and are investing in the future of agriculture through their contributions to the Nexus project.”

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.

Koch One of First Nitrogenous Fertilizer Plants with ENERGY STAR

Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes two nitrogenous fertilizer plants as the first of their kind to earn EPA's ENERGY STAR certification for superior energy performance. Koch Fertilizer's plant in Beatrice, Neb., and Simplot's plant in Helm, Calif., both earned 2019 ENERGY STAR certification.

"I congratulate the owners of these ENERGY STAR-certified plants for demonstrating leadership in reducing the environmental impact of this growing sector and defining a new generation of efficient plants," said EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Anne Idsal. "These plant teams are showing that what makes sense for our environment also makes economic sense. We encourage all fertilizer plants in the U.S. to seek top energy performance."

"We are proud to be recognized among the most energy-efficient facilities of this kind in the U.S.," said Koch Fertilizer Beatrice Plant Manager Phil Tasset. "We recognize the financial and societal benefits from continuously improving our plant operations, including process improvements to reduce energy consumption. Our employees identify and pursue opportunities to create value for our customers, society, and the company."

"We are very pleased to receive this recognition as a reflection of the prioritization we place on energy efficiency. Our ongoing commitment to long-term, sustainable business practices is an important part of providing better service to our customers today and in future generations," said Simplot's Helm Facility Plant Manager Gilbert Rodriguez.

The U.S. fertilizer industry spends nearly half a billion dollars on energy each year. EPA believes the energy performance achievements of these two ENERGY STAR certified plants indicate that there are many opportunities for the industry to increase energy efficiency.

Manufacturing plants that are verified to be among the most energy efficient within their sector are eligible to earn EPA's ENERGY STAR certification. To measure energy efficiency, EPA worked with the fertilizer industry to develop an Energy Performance Indicator (EPI) for nitrogenous fertilizer plants. To qualify for ENERGY STAR certification, the plants used the EPI to benchmark their energy performance and received an ENERGY STAR energy performance score indicating these plants use energy more efficiently than 75 percent of similar nitrogenous plants in the U.S. This means the two plants spend less on energy and have lower energy-related environmental impacts than similar plants. Compared to industry averages, the two plants are preventing 86,688 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. All plants awarded with the ENERGY STAR must have their energy performance verified and be in good standing with federal environmental laws.

Women in Agriculture Conference to Be Held in Washington, Iowa

“Setting the Table for Success” is the theme for the fourth annual Women in Agriculture Conference, to be held at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Washington on March 28.

The event is being hosted by the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Washington County office, along with the Washington County Women in Agriculture Advisory Board.

The goal of this year’s conference is to show women of all ages how they can set their table for success in agriculture by surrounding themselves with the right people and resources to make informed decisions.

The conference will feature four speakers: Scott Siepker, Iowa Nice Guy; Elaine Kub, grain market economist; Delaney Howell, host of Iowa Public Television’s “Market to Market,” and Kay Frances, a humorous and motivational speaker.

Siepker will kick off the conference with a little bit of humor, sharing his insights on how “Setting the Table for Success” starts with who should be around the table as well as how we can steal from the best and tell our story.

Kub and Howell will follow, expanding on how women can set their own table for success. Kub will examine the makeup and motivations of the grain market’s most influential players, as well as pinpoint some price opportunities for the grain markets in 2020.

Howell will expand on this and delve into the various aspects impacting the business of agriculture.

Finally, while agriculture and “Setting the Table for Success” may be stressful at times, the final speaker, Frances, will help attendees to see the “Funny Thing about Stress.” She’ll share some pointers about how to better manage stress, so it doesn’t manage us.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. The conference will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude around 2:30 p.m. with networking and socializing until 3 p.m., along with a wine tasting. Attendees must be 21 or older for the wine tasting.

The cost to attend the conference is $25, or $15 for students. A light breakfast and lunch will be included.

Pre-register by calling the ISU Extension and Outreach Washington County office at 319-653-4811, or online at The pre-registration deadline is March 17. Late registrations and walk-in registrations will be accepted based on availability.

The conference is being made possible in large part thanks to: Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the Azariah and Martha Foster Heritage Endowment, Hills Bank and other local sponsors.

Most Fertilizer Prices Still Lower Third Week of February

Retail fertilizers tracked by DTN for the third week of February 2020 show mostly lower prices, which has been the case in recent weeks.

A streak of five consecutive weeks of significantly lower fertilizer prices was broken. Five fertilizers were lower in price compared to last month but none were down any substantial amount. DAP had an average price of $410/ton, MAP $435/ton, potash $373/ton, 10-34-0 $464/ton and UAN28 $235/ton.

The remaining three fertilizers had a small price increase looking back to last month. Urea had an average price of $361/ton, anhydrous $490/ton and UAN32 $277/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 now all lower in price from a year ago. DAP is 20% lower, MAP is 19% less expensive, anhydrous is 18% lower, both UAN28 and UAN32 are 13% less expensive, urea is 11% lower, potash is 3% less expensive and 10-34-0 is 1% lower from last year at this time.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 2/21/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending Feb. 21, ethanol production expanded by 1.3%, or 15,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 1.054 million b/d—equivalent to 44.27 million gallons daily. The four-week average ethanol production rate grew 0.7% to 1.052 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 16.13 billion gallons.

Ethanol stocks ticked downward 0.3% to 24.7 million barrels. Inventories shifted lower across all regions except the Gulf Coast (PADD 3), where stocks lifted 5.4%.

Imports of ethanol arriving into the West Coast were 35,000 b/d, or 10.29 million gallons for the week. This is the first time in six weeks that imports were logged. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of December 2019.)

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market climbed 1.3% to 9.035 million b/d (379.47 million gallons per day, or 138.51 bg annualized). Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol rose 0.7% to 902,000 b/d—equivalent to 13.83 bg annualized.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production increased to 11.67%.

USDA Announces Details of Risk Management Programs for Hemp Producers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the availability of two programs that protect hemp producers’ crops from natural disasters.  A pilot hemp insurance program through Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) provides coverage against loss of yield because of insurable causes of loss for hemp grown for fiber, grain or Cannabidiol (CBD) oil and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage protects against losses associated with lower yields, destroyed crops or prevented planting where no permanent federal crop insurance program is available. Producers may apply now, and the deadline to sign up for both programs is March 16, 2020.  
“We are pleased to offer these coverages to hemp producers. Hemp offers new economic opportunities for our farmers, and they are anxious for a way to protect their product in the event of a natural disaster,” said Farm Production and Conservation Undersecretary Bill Northey.
Multi-Peril Crop Insurance Pilot Insurance Program

The MPCI pilot insurance is a new crop insurance option for hemp producers in select counties of 21 states for the 2020 crop year. The program is available for eligible producers in certain counties in Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. Information on eligible counties is accessible through the USDA Risk Management Agency’s Actuarial Information Browser.
Among other requirements, to be eligible for the pilot program, a hemp producer must have at least one year of history producing the crop and have a contract for the sale of the insured hemp. In addition, the minimum acreage requirement is 5 acres for CBD and 20 acres for grain and fiber. Hemp will not qualify for replant payments or prevented plant payments under MPCI.
This pilot insurance coverage is available to hemp growers in addition to revenue protection for hemp offered under the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection plan of insurance. Also, beginning with the 2021 crop year, hemp will be insurable under the Nursery crop insurance program and the Nursery Value Select pilot crop insurance program. Under both nursery programs, hemp will be insurable if grown in containers and in accordance with federal regulations, any applicable state or tribal laws and terms of the crop insurance policy.
Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program

NAP provides coverage against loss for hemp grown for fiber, grain, seed or CBD for the 2020 crop year where no permanent federal crop insurance program is available.

NAP basic 50/55 coverage is available at 55 percent of the average market price for crop losses that exceed 50 percent of expected production. Buy-up coverage is available in some cases. The 2018 Farm Bill allows for buy-up levels of NAP coverage from 50 to 65 percent of expected production in 5 percent increments, at 100 percent of the average market price. Premiums apply for buy-up coverage.

For all coverage levels, the NAP service fee is $325 per crop or $825 per producer per county, not to exceed $1,950 for a producer with farming interests in multiple counties.

Eligibility Requirements

Under a regulation authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill and issued in October 2019, all growers must have a license to grow hemp and must comply with applicable state, tribal or federal regulations or operate under a state or university research pilot, as authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

Producers must report hemp acreage to FSA after planting to comply with federal and state law enforcement. The Farm Bill defines hemp as containing 0.3 percent or less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on a dry-weight basis. Hemp having THC above the federal statutory compliance level of 0.3 percent is an uninsurable or ineligible cause of loss and will result in the hemp production being ineligible for production history purposes.
For more information on USDA risk management programs for hemp producers, visit to read the frequently asked questions.

Precision Ag Reviews Ranks Top Five Products According to Farmers

Precision Ag Reviews, an independent resource to help farmers make decisions about precision ag equipment, has ranked the top five products of 2019 according to thousands of reviews received by farmers.

"More than 3,000 reviews of precision farming products were submitted to Precision Ag Reviews online and in person at farm shows across the country in 2019," said Stacie McCracken, Precision Ag Reviews project manager. "For the first time, we are sharing the findings from aggregated data that showcases the precision farming products farmers collectively rated the highest."

For 2019, the top five products were determined by the highest overall ratings based on a five-star system that includes cost, ease of use, value and support. 
-    Ag Leader, InCommand Display
-    Climate, FieldView Drive
-    Precision Planting, 20l20 Display
-    Ag Leader, Integra Display
-    Trimble, TMX-2050 Display

The Ag Leader InCommand display topped the list in the categories of ease of use, overall value and technical support, while the Climate FieldView Drive had the highest ranking for cost. The product with the most reviews in 2019 was the John Deere Greenstar 3 2630 display.

"While in-cab displays dominated the highest rating list, Precision Ag Reviews includes nearly 300 precision farming products in the areas of hardware, imagery, software and drones," McCracken said. 

Farmers can quickly and easily leave a review or browse peers' reviews on Precision Ag Reviews at any time. In addition, there is a weekly blog with news, information and tips on precision farming topics.

Started in 2017, Precision Ag Reviews was underwritten by the Ohio Soybean Council and the soybean checkoff to provide a reliable, unbiased source of information about precision technology to U.S. farmers. 

CCFN Urges Trump Administration to Seek Stronger Commitments on Generic Names

In testimony today before the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) urged the U.S. Administration to secure "firm and explicit commitments" with trading partners to assure the future use of specific generic food and beverage names targeted by EU monopolization efforts, and to reject the use of GIs as barriers to trade.

"There is a persistent push by the European Union and other European interests to dismantle competition and erect barriers to trade which must be more strongly combatted," said CCFN Senior Director Shawna Morris in her testimony. "Across all markets, but particularly those with which the United States has a free trade agreement or is in the process of pursuing a free trade agreement, we urge the Administration to secure explicit commitments from our trading partners that build upon the positive precedent established in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) whereby market access rights were clearly and definitively affirmed for a non-exhaustive list of common used product terms."

Morris expressed appreciation for the Administration's focus on tearing down trade barriers that hinder U.S. competitiveness, but said that without further commitments that reject illegitimate GIs, U.S. companies are likely to run into further obstacles. That's because EU governments and stakeholders continue to pursue an agenda to monopolize popular generic names with key trading partners.

Morris said the list of common terms in the USMCA was the type of tool that "should be carried forward aggressively by the Administration in order to safeguard our World Trade Organization and free trade agreement market access rights in the strongest manner possible."

CCFN provided written and oral testimony as the USTR prepares its annual review on the status of intellectual property rights protections in its trading relationships around the globe (Special 301 Report). The agency is expected to release the 2020 Special 301 Report this spring.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Tuesday February 25 Ag News


The value of Nebraska’s 2019 field and miscellaneous crops is forecast at $10.3 billion, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This is up 5 percent from 2018.

The value of corn production is expected to total $6.78 billion, up 6 percent from the previous marketing year. Nebraska’s corn price is projected to average $3.80 per bushel, up $0.22 from the last marketing year.

The value of soybean production is expected to total $2.38 billion, up 24 percent from the previous marketing year. Nebraska’s soybean price is projected to average $8.40 per bushel, up $0.20 from the last marketing year.

Emerging Issues Forum to Feature Experts on Ethanol & Renewable Chemical Policies, Regulations and Markets

Join ethanol stakeholders and experts in Omaha for the 15th annual Ethanol: Emerging Issues Forum 2020 at the La Vista Conference Center April 9-10. Governor Pete Ricketts has been invited to open the event and welcome attendees.

The Forum brings together ethanol producers and others from across the nation who are integrally involved in production, technology, policymaking, and marketing of ethanol and its co-products. The agenda runs from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and 8:00 a.m. to noon Friday, with multiple networking opportunities in between. Register at by March 1 for Early Bird savings.

Topics include an overview and discussion of the most pressing federal policies, regulatory and legal actions, and market trends from around the world. Speakers will also outline opportunities in emerging co-product markets from industry partners and remind attendees why they (and why the public should) fall in love with ethanol.

Other scheduled presentations include exploring the potential of future ethanol use in the electric vehicle market, fostering environmental relationships as agricultural and ethanol producers, as well as a discussion considering how ethanol and the petroleum industry can work together.

“We take pride in connecting attendees with some of the most sought-after experts in our industry and providing them with knowledge and foresight of what we truly see evolving in the future,” said Roger Berry, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. “Whether you work in the ethanol sector or you’re a citizen enthusiastic about the potential that biofuels have to reduce pollution, we welcome you to attend this exciting and educational event.”

Forum organizers Nebraska Ethanol Board and Renewable Fuels Nebraska expect more than 150 ethanol industry stakeholders to attend. Online registration and an evolving agenda are available at Scholarships also are available to college and university students and can be accessed by emailing Amber Rucker, NEB marketing and finance manager, at

Friday Is the Last Day to Schedule an Appointment with Your FSA Office to Compete in CRP General Signup

Agricultural producers and private landowners interested in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) 2020 general signup must make an offer of acres or schedule an appointment to do so with their local U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) service center by Friday, February 28.

The general signup – which opened in December – is available to producers and private landowners who are either offering for the first time or re-offering acres for another 10- to 15-year term in the 35-year-old USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) conservation program.

“Call your FSA county office today to make an appointment to sign up for the Conservation Reserve Program,” FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. “As long as you have an appointment scheduled, your CRP offer will be able to compete in this general signup, even if the appointment is in the first week of March. This is the first opportunity for general sign up since 2016, and we want to make sure interested producers and landowners take advantage of this popular conservation program.”

Farmers and ranchers who enroll land 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 currently has about 22 million acres enrolled, but the 2018 Farm Bill raises the cap to 27 million acres in fiscal year 2023.  The cap for fiscal year 2020 is 24.5 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 by taking marginal lands out of production.

Producers and landowners interested in the general signup must contact their FSA county office by Friday, February 28 to schedule an appointment.

Deadline to Apply for Natural Resources Conservation Funds Approaching

Farmers and ranchers interested in preventing erosion, improving soil health, conserving water and wildlife, or making any other natural resource conservation improvements to their property are encouraged to apply now for funding available from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Those interested in receiving funding should sign up before March. 13, 2020.

According to Craig Derickson, state conservationist for NRCS in Nebraska, there are several options available to producers.

“NRCS has a whole suite of conservation programs available to farmers and ranchers looking for assistance in improving and protecting the natural resources on their ag land. These programs provide funding on cropland and rangeland, as well as for animal feeding operations and establishing or enhancing wildlife habitat and wetlands. NRCS staff can help landowners and operators identify their options,” Derickson said.

One of the most widely applied conservation programs in Nebraska is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The goal of EQIP is to provide a financial incentive to encourage landowners to install conservation practices that protect natural resources, resulting in cleaner air and water, healthy soil and more wildlife habitat.

Individuals interested in entering into an EQIP agreement may apply at any time, but the ranking of applications on hand to be considered for funding in 2020 will begin March. 13, 2020. The first step is to visit your local NRCS field office and complete an application.

USDA Providing Funds to Protect and Restore Agricultural Working Lands, Grasslands and Wetlands across Nebraska

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).  This program, created under the 2014 Farm Bill and reauthorized in the 2018 Farm Bill, provides funding for the purchase of conservation easements to help productive farm and ranch lands remain in agriculture and to restore and protect critical wetlands and grasslands.

Nebraska State Conservationist, Craig Derickson said, “Conservation easements are a good tool to ensure natural resources are conserved and protected for all Nebraskans.  We encourage Indian tribes, state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and private landowners to contact their local NRCS office to find out how to apply.”

The main goal of ACEP is to prevent productive agriculture land from being converted to non-agricultural uses and to restore and protect wetlands and wildlife habitat.  Cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland are eligible.

Applications can be submitted at any time, but to be considered for 2020 funding opportunities, applications in Nebraska must be received by April 3, 2020.  Applications are currently being accepted for both agricultural land and wetland reserve easements.

NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private and tribal landowners to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands through the purchase of conservation easements.  Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement.  Tribal landowners also have the option of enrolling in 30-year contracts.

A key option under the agricultural land easement component is the "grasslands of special environmental significance" that will protect high-quality grasslands that are under threat of conversion to cropping, urban development and other non-grazing uses.  To qualify, the application would need to be in an area meeting the designated criteria.

All applications will be rated according to the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife.  Eligible applicants will be compensated with a payment rate comparable to the local land use value.

Applicants will need to provide accurate records of ownership and ensure they have established current fiscal year ownership eligibility with USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).  Application information is available at your local USDA Service Center and at

“NRCS staff will work with all interested applicants to help them through the application process and provide one-on-one assistance to create the conservation easement option that works best for their farming or ranching operation,” Derickson said.

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

USDA and USTR Announce Progress on Implementation of U.S.-China Phase One Agreement

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced today that China has taken numerous actions to begin implementing its agriculture-related commitments under the landmark U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement on schedule. The agreement entered into force on February 14, 2020.

These actions include:
 -    Signing a protocol that allows the importation of U.S. fresh chipping potatoes (U.S. Chipping Potatoes Protocol Announcement);
-    Lifting the ban on imports of U.S. poultry and poultry products, including pet food containing poultry products (Poultry and Poultry Products Announcement);
-    Lifting restrictions on imports of U.S. pet food containing ruminant material (Pet Food with Ruminant Ingredients Announcement);
-    Updating lists of facilities approved for exporting animal protein, pet food, dairy, infant formula, and tallow for industry use to China;
-    Updating the lists of products that can be exported to China as feed additives; and
-    Updating an approved list of U.S. seafood species  that can be exported to China.

 In addition, China has begun announcing tariff exclusions for imports of U.S. agricultural products subject to its retaliatory tariffs (Tariff Exclusion Process Announcement), and it announced a reduction in retaliatory tariff rates on certain U.S. agricultural goods (Tariff Rate Adjustment Announcement). These types of actions will facilitate China’s progress toward meeting its Phase One purchase commitments.

“President Trump and this Administration negotiated a strong trade agreement with China that promises significant benefits for American agriculture,” Secretary Perdue said. “We look forward to realizing these benefits this year and are encouraged by progress made last week. We fully expect compliance with all elements of the deal.”

Ambassador Lighthizer said, “President Trump signed the Phase One agreement a little more than a month ago and we are already seeing positive results. Under the President’s leadership, we will ensure the agreement is strictly enforced for the benefit of our workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses.”

RFA Welcomes Bill Targeting Big Oil’s Big Subsidies

Today, Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Tom Udall of New Mexico introduced a bill that that takes a step toward ending subsidies for oil and gas companies. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper released the following statement:

"We applaud Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Tom Udall (D-NM) for introducing bipartisan legislation today that closes a century-old tax loophole exploited by oil companies and takes a step toward leveling the playing field for all transportation fuel producers. Study after study show that the oil and gas industry benefits each year from billions of dollars in hidden subsidies, write-offs, incentives, and other giveaways. If oil producers and refiners truly want a 'free market' in the energy sector, they should start by giving up the subsidies and tax preferences that have robbed state and federal coffers for 100 years or more. We hope this bill sets lawmakers on a path toward comprehensive energy tax policy reform, and that the end result is a fair and open market that offers true competition and consumer choice."

February Cattle on Feed

Josh Maples, Extension Economist, Dept of Ag Economics, Mississippi State University

The February USDA NASS Cattle on Feed Report was released last Friday and showed feedlot inventory at 11.93 million head on February 1 for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 head or more. This was up 2.2 percent over the same date in 2019. The report was generally neutral as it was within the range of expectations pre-report, but the number of placements during January were lower than the majority of pre-report estimates which could be viewed as slightly bullish. However, the Friday report was nowhere near bullish enough to exclude cattle from the rough day that financial and commodity markets are having on Monday.

The 11.93 million head is the largest February total in the past 12 years and is the fourth largest February total since the series began in 1996. While the U.S. total was up 2.2%, there were some differences among states. Feedlots in Texas showed the largest increase in inventory since a year ago with 190,000 more head (6.9%) on February 1, 2020 as compared to February 1, 2019. The next two largest increases were Kansas which is up 150,000 head (6.7%) and Colorado which is up 60,000 head (5.8%). The largest state decrease was Nebraska which was 100,000 head lower (3.9%) than a year ago.

Placements of cattle into feedlots in January were down 0.6% as compared to January 2019. Most pre-report estimates were for a slight increase in placements. Despite having the largest inventory gains among states since a year ago, Texas had the largest decrease in placements at 50,000 fewer than in January 2019. Kansas showed the largest increase at 60,000 head more than a year ago.

Marketings in January were up 1.1% over a year ago and this was very near the average of pre-report expectations. Overall, the report was fairly well-anticipated with no major surprises.

USDA Expands Market for U.S. Wheat

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that, effective immediately, U.S. wheat may now be shipped to Kenya regardless of state of origin or port of export. This important step will allow U.S. wheat from Idaho, Oregon, and Washington to be added to the list of states that can ship wheat to Kenya.

“American farmers in the Pacific Northwest now have full access to the Kenyan wheat market,” said Greg Ibach, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “This action proves our commitment to securing fair treatment and greater access for U.S. products in the global marketplace.”

For the last 12 years, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has worked closely with Kenyan officials to address plant health concerns that kept U.S. wheat exports from Idaho, Oregon, and Washington out of Kenya. The U.S.-Kenya Trade and Investment Working Group, established after an August 2018 White House meeting between President Donald Trump and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, provided the forum for APHIS, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to finally resolve this longstanding issue with Kenya.

On January 28, 2020, Kenya’s national plant protection organization officially signed the Export Certification Protocol between Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service and APHIS/PPQ on Wheat Grain Consignments to Kenya for immediate implementation. The protocol gives U.S. exporters full access to Kenya’s wheat market, valued at nearly $500 million annually.

“Going forward, the USDA team looks forward to building on this success and further strengthening our relationship with Kenya as we pursue a new bilateral free trade agreement that will create additional market opportunities for U.S. producers and exporters,” said Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney.


After 12 years of discussion and a U.S. technical visit, Kenya agreed to lift its prohibition on U.S. wheat exports from Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Kenya will now accept APHIS export phytosanitary inspection and certification for wheat from any U.S. state of origin or port of export, effective immediately.

As part of the technical agreement, APHIS will work with U.S. stakeholders to enhance general surveillance for flag smut of wheat (Urocystis agropyri) in Idaho, Oregon and Washington and ask industry to support a technical visit from Kenya to examine crop surveillance measures for flag smut.

Tools to help growers get ahead of corn rootworm threat

Corn rootworm (CRW) is one of the most destructive corn pests in the United States and costs growers more than $1 billion annually in reduced grain yield and control measures. Long-term corn rootworm management requires a multi-year, whole-farm approach that includes the integration of multiple control measures, not a singular technology.

Growers concerned with CRW should have a plan in place for each field that includes multiple control strategies including crop rotation, corn rootworm-traited corn hybrids, soil applied insecticides, and adult beetle management. To provide growers with information to help guide multi-year CRW management decisions, Syngenta has announced it will assist growers with corn rootworm beetle tracking during the 2020 growing season to help them plan for 2021.

"Corn rootworm is one of the top pests on growers' minds when it comes to corn insect control. Without proper planning and management, this adaptable insect can wreak havoc on corn fields and negatively affect bottom lines," said Tim O'Brien, PhD, Agrisure® traits manager for Syngenta. "Every farm is different and CRW management requires year-by-year, field-by-field evaluation. At Syngenta, we recommend tracking the current year's beetle numbers to gauge the following year's larval threat."

Tracking corn rootworm beetles is an effective method to help growers identify the level of pressure on their farms, delivering valuable information for future insect management decisions.

"Yellow sticky traps are a simple, convenient and reliable method for estimating CRW populations within a corn field," said Andy Heggenstaller, head of agronomy for Syngenta Seeds. "Our goal is to provide growers with the support and knowledge they need to monitor adult corn rootworm in their fields and ultimately make better, more informed management decisions that will pay off next year and in years to come."

Sticky traps should be placed in fields during June or July, though exact timing depends on geography. Growers seeking assistance in tracking CRW pressure and developing a plan specific to their area should contact their local, independent Golden Harvest® Seed Advisor or local NK® retailer this spring to ensure they are prepared to take action in the summer.

To help reduce unexpected damage in high-pressure CRW fields, growers should consider rotating to a non-host crop like soybeans, applying a soil insecticide, managing adult beetles, and utilizing pyramided trait stacks like Agrisure Duracade® trait stacks. Growers looking for more control of more insect pests may want to consider Agrisure Duracade 5222 E-Z Refuge®, as it controls 16 damaging above- and below-ground pests, more than any competitive trait stack.

"Because CRW is so adaptable and has historically demonstrated the ability to overcome some management practices and control technologies, it's important to show this pest something different to delay adaptation to control technologies," said O'Brien. "Agrisure Duracade trait stacks feature a unique mode of action that demonstrates strong performance against CRW and provide a new trait rotational option for a healthier corn crop."

Agrisure Duracade expresses a protein that binds differently in the gut of corn rootworm to show corn rootworm something different. The Agrisure Duracade trait provides a new trait rotation option for corn rootworm management when used in rotation with other industry trait technologies like Agrisure 3122 E-Z Refuge.