Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Tuesday June 30 Acreage/Grain Stocks + Ag News


Nebraska producers planted 9.80 million acres of corn for all purposes, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. This is down 3% from last year. Of the total acres, 94% were planted with biotechnology varieties, down 2 percentage points from 2019. Area to be harvested for grain is estimated at 9.45 million acres, down 4% from a year ago.

Soybean planted acreage is estimated at 5.00 million acres, up 2% from last year. Of these, 96% were planted with genetically modified, herbicide resistant seed, up 1 percentage point from 2019. Producers expect to harvest 4.95 million acres, up 2% from a year ago.

Winter wheat planted in the fall of 2019 is estimated at a record low 920,000 acres, down 14% from last year. Harvested area is expected to total 850,000 acres, down 12% from a year ago.

Alfalfa acreage to be harvested for dry hay is estimated at 970,000 acres, up 2% from last year. Other hay acreage to be cut for dry hay is estimated at 1.70 million acres, up 13% from a year ago.

Sorghum planted for all purposes is estimated at 170,000 acres, down 15% from the previous year. Area to be harvested for grain is estimated at 120,000 acres, down 8% from last year.

Oats planted for all purposes is estimated at 140,000 acres, up 17% from last year. Area to be harvested for grain is estimated at 20,000 acres up 11% from last year.

Dry edible bean planted acreage is estimated at 150,000 acres, up 25% from last year. Harvested acres are estimated at 135,000 acres, up 39% from the previous year.

Proso millet planted, at 95,000 acres is down 17% from a year ago.

Sugarbeet planted acres, at 46,300 acres, are up 5% from last year. Harvested area is forecast at 45,800 acres, up 9% from a year ago.

Oil sunflower planted area is estimated at 30,000 acres, up 7% from last year. Harvested area is estimated at 28,000 acres, up 8% from a year ago. Non-oil sunflower planted area is estimated at 10,000 acres, up 11% from the previous year. Harvested area is estimated at 9,000 acres, up 6% from the previous year.

Dry edible pea planted acres are estimated at 36,000 acres, up 16% from last year. Harvested acres are estimated at 34,000 acres, up 17% from the previous year.

Potato planted acreage is estimated at 20,000 acres, unchanged from last year. Harvested acreage is forecasted at 19,800 acres, up 1% from a year ago. Percent planted by type of potato is: 48% white, 49% russet, 1% red and 2% yellow.

The estimates of planted and harvested acreages in this news release are based primarily on surveys conducted during the first two weeks of June.


Corn planted for all purposes in Iowa is estimated at 14.0 million acres, down 100,000 from the March intentions, but up 500,000 acres from 2019 according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Acreage report. Corn to be harvested for grain is forecast at 13.6 million acres. Producers reported planting biotechnology varieties on 90 percent of their 2020 corn acres. The percent of corn acreage planted to insect resistant (Bt) varieties is estimated at 3 percent, herbicide resistant only varieties were planted on 8 percent of the acres, and stacked gene varieties were planted on 79 percent of the acres.

Soybean acreage planted is estimated at 9.40 million acres, up 100,000 acres from the March intentions and up 200,000 acres from the 2019 planted acreage. Soybean acreage to be harvested is forecast at 9.32 million acres. Based on reports from producers, 93 percent of the soybean acres were planted with herbicide resistant varieties.

Total dry hay expected to be harvested for 2020 is forecast at 1.06 million acres, down 140,000 acres from the March forecast, but up 40,000 acres from 2019. Of the total, 730,000 acres of alfalfa and 330,000 acres of other hay are expected to be harvested for dry hay.

Acreage seeded to oats is estimated at 240,000 acres, unchanged from the March intentions, but up 25,000 acres from last year. Oat acreage expected to be harvested for grain is forecast at 80,000 acres, up 11,000 acres from 2019.

U.S. Corn Planted Acreage Up 3 Percent from 2019, Soybean Acreage Up 10 Percent

Corn planted area for all purposes in 2020 is estimated at 92.0 million acres, up 3 percent or 2.31 million acres from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage is expected to be up or unchanged in 28 of the 48 estimating States. Area harvested for grain, at 84.0 million acres, is up 3 percent from last year.

Soybean planted area for 2020 is estimated at 83.8 million acres, up 10 percent from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage is up or unchanged in 24 of the 29 estimating States.

All wheat planted area for 2020 is estimated at 44.3 million acres, down 2 percent from 2019. This represents the lowest all wheat planted area since records began in 1919. The 2020 winter wheat planted area, at 30.6 million acres, is down 2 percent from last year and down 1 percent from the previous estimate. Of this total, about 21.5 million acres are Hard Red Winter, 5.63 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.42 million acres are White Winter. Area expected to be planted to other spring wheat for 2020 is estimated at 12.2 million acres, down 4 percent from 2019. Of this total, about 11.5 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. Durum planted area for 2020 is expected to total 1.50 million acres, up 12 percent from the previous year.

All cotton planted area for 2020 is estimated at 12.2 million acres, down 11 percent from last year. Upland area is estimated at 12.0 million acres, down 11 percent from 2019. American Pima area is estimated at 195,000 acres, down 15 percent from 2019.


Nebraska corn stocks in all positions on June 1, 2020 totaled 597 million bushels, up 4% from 2019, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Of the total, 330 million bushels are stored on farms, up 6% from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 267 million bushels, are up 2% from last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions totaled 110 million bushels, down 11% from last year. On-farm stocks of 36.5 million bushels are up 3% from a year ago, but off-farm stocks, at 73.7 million bushels, are down 17% from 2019.

Wheat stored in all positions totaled 34.9 million bushels, down 3% from a year ago. On-farm stocks of 2.70 million bushels are up 309% from 2019, but off-farm stocks of 32.2 million bushels are down 9% from last year.

Sorghum stored in all positions totaled 2.86 million bushels, down 49% from 2019. On-farm stocks of 160,000 bushels are down 72% from a year ago and off-farm holdings of 2.70 million bushels are down 47% from last year.

On-farm oat stocks totaled 270,000 bushels, unchanged from 2019.


Corn stored in all positions in Iowa on June 1, 2020, totaled 1.09 billion bushels, up 9% from June 1, 2019, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Grain Stocks report. Of the total stocks, 61% were stored on-farm. The March-May 2020 indicated disappearance totaled 431 million bushels, 25% below the 572 million bushels from the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions in Iowa on June 1, 2019, totaled 281 million bushels, 7% below the 302 million bushels on hand June 1, 2019. Of the total stocks, 50% were stored on-farm. Indicated disappearance for March-May 2020 is 122 million bushels, 3% above the 119 million bushels from the same quarter last year.

Oats stored on-farm in Iowa on June 1, 2020, totaled 700 thousand bushels, up 27% from June 1, 2019.

U.S. Corn Stocks Up Less Than 1 Percent from June 2019, Soybean Stocks Down 22 Percent

Corn stocks in all positions on June 1, 2020 totaled 5.22 billion bushels, up less than 1 percent from June 1, 2019. Of the total stocks, 3.03 billion bushels are stored on farms, up 3 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 2.20 billion bushels, are down 2 percent from a year ago. The March - May 2020 indicated disappearance is 2.73 billion bushels, compared with 3.41 billion bushels during the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions on June 1, 2020 totaled 1.39 billion bushels, down 22 percent from June 1, 2019. On-farm stocks totaled 633 million bushels, down 13 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 753 million bushels, are down 28 percent from a year ago. Indicated disappearance for the March - May 2020 quarter totaled 869 million bushels, down 8 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Old crop all wheat stored in all positions on June 1, 2020 totaled 1.04 billion bushels, down 3 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 232 million bushels, up 12 percent from last year. Off-farm stocks, at 812 million bushels, are down 7 percent from a year ago. The March - May 2020 indicated disappearance is 372 million bushels, down 28 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Grain sorghum stored in all positions on June 1, 2020 totaled 72.5 million bushels, down 38 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 8.36 million bushels, are down 12 percent from last year. Off-farm stocks, at 64.2 million bushels, are down 41 percent from June 1, 2019. The March - May 2020 indicated disappearance from all positions is 92.4 million bushels, up 23 percent from the same period last year.

2020 Star City BaconFest Canceled

Due to the COVID-19 virus and the complications it presents for large gatherings, the 2020 Star City BaconFest has been canceled. The Nebraska Pork Producers Assn. along with the Nebraska Restaurant Association are disappointed in this outcome but feel that not only for the event audience, but also the 20+ participating restaurant vendors, it is the responsible path to follow.

They look forward to selecting a new date for some time in April of 2021 and hope attendees will consider joining them for this fun (and delicious) event at that time.

2020 Nebraska State Fair is a Go – Showcasing 4-H and FFA Youth

The Nebraska State Fair Board voted to hold a 2020 State Fair showcasing 4-H and FFA competitions and exhibitions. While the Fair will look different than it has in the past, providing an opportunity for young people to showcase the work they have been doing throughout the year as it is important to the State Fair and to the future of our state. The 2020 State Fair will include 4-H and FFA livestock competitions, contests, presentations, and static exhibits.

“All events and activities will follow the most up-to-date directive health measures,” said Beth Smith, board chair for Nebraska State Fair. “We hold the youth and families involved in 4-H and FFA near and dear to us. 4-H and FFA youth have been hard at work for months preparing their exhibits and livestock, and this gives them the opportunity to showcase those efforts.”

“Nebraskans have always been supportive of the education of our young people,” said the Nebraska 4-H and the FFA Board of Directors. “The focus of the 2020 Nebraska State Fair on 4-H and FFA is another example of our state looking toward the future by celebrating the success of our youth. We are thrilled to have the to opportunity showcase the work of Nebraska’s next generation of leaders.”

In addition to the youth events, visitors can partake in Raising Nebraska, an interactive space dedicated to the food and the families that grow it as well as a variety of Nebraska Game and Parks activities. Depending on Grand Island’s phase progress, there is the potential to include more concessions, amusement rides, motor sport activities, and taverns. Stay tuned to statefair.org for additional announcements.

“We are excited to announce that gate admission will be free,” said Smith. “This year has been difficult, so we see this as an opportunity for our community to come together and enjoy a part of Nebraska history and culture.”

The health and safety of the community is and always will be the highest priority in producing the annual Fair. In the interest of public health, the State Fair will provide additional $30,000 to manage cleaning and sanitizing throughout the event. At the present moment, restrooms will be cleaned at minimum once every two hours with full-time restroom attendants present. The frequency and number of attendants will adjust to the crowd size.

Nebraska State Fair continues to work closely on public health issues with a variety of local and national public health agencies, including the Nebraska Governor, Department of Health and Human Services, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Central District Health Department and City of Grand Island. Fair organizers will continue to collaborate with these expert partners, watching for any new developments around COVID-19 that would impact the Fair operation, and make modifications accordingly.


Nebraska State Fair has canceled large concerts including, Jon Pardi on Sept. 3, Dustin Lynch on Sept. 4, the dual show of Clay Walker and Clint Black on Sept. 6. In addition, the tour canceled the Big Rock Summer Tour featuring Ratt, Skid Row and Quiet Riot. Many performers and musicians share the safety concerns of Nebraskans’. While they want to be with their fans, they know it isn’t an option at this time. We look forward to welcoming talented musicians to the 2021 Nebraska State Fair. Advanced sales of concert and/or gate admission tickets will be refunded through Etix. Questions regarding refunds should be directed to Etix at www.etix.com.

Nebraska State Fair will be releasing additional information as it becomes available ahead of the event. Dates will be available as well as answers to questions at statefair.org. For more information on the Aksarben Stock Show, visit aksarbenstockshow.com.

Nebraska State Fair to focus on youth development, including 4-H events

The Nebraska State Fair Board voted Tuesday to shift the focus of the 2020 Nebraska State Fair to emphasize youth development opportunities, with some other exhibits, activities, concerts and other events cancelled in light of concerns about COVID-19. Specifically, 4-H and FFA events will be the focus of the 2020 fair, which is scheduled to take place Aug. 28 through Sept. 7 in Grand Island.

Nebraska 4-H and Nebraska State FFA issued a joint statement praising the decision:
“Nebraskans have always been supportive of the education of our young people.  The focus of the 2020 Nebraska State Fair on 4-H and FFA is another example of our state looking toward the future by celebrating the success of our youth. We are thrilled to have the opportunity showcase the work of Nebraska’s next generation of leaders.”

Nebraska Extension began adapting 2020 4-H programming to virtual formats back in March, when social distancing and other directed health measures were first put in place. At the same time, Extension professionals began planning for the possibility of adapting events for both county fairs and the Nebraska State Fair to adhere to health directives.

While many details have yet to be finalized, some decisions about what 4-H and FFA events will look like at the 2020 Nebraska State Fair have been made. These include:
    4-H and FFA livestock shows will take place on separate weekends, with the 4-H shows taking place the first weekend of the fair and FFA shows Labor Day weekend.
    Youth dairy events will be held jointly on Labor Day weekend.
    Entry quotas for livestock will remain the same.
    All livestock will be released upon completion of showing.
    Static exhibits will be on display for the public to view and will also be shown virtually.
    There will not be an admission fee for the 2020 Nebraska State Fair.

Extension professionals and partner groups are still working out the details of what livestock shows, public speaking and other live events, and static exhibits will look at this year’s fair. Nebraska Extension will continue to work with the City of Grand Island, the State Fair Board, the district health department, and other partners leading up to the fair. More information may be found at 4h.unl.edu.

“We’ve got an opportunity to showcase youth in an amazing way, and we are thrilled that our youth have the support of our fair board and our governor,” said Kathleen Lodl, Nebraska 4-H program leader. “Nebraska families are going to get an amazing 2020 State Fair.”

Nebraska has one of the highest 4-H participation rates in the nation, with one in three – a total of over 140,000 – youth engaged in the program statewide.

“Youth who participate in 4-H develop independence, problem-solving skills, leadership skills and lasting friendships,” Lodl said. “4-H helps shape our future generations in a multitude of positive ways, and today’s decision shows that Nebraska recognizes the value of this amazing program.”

More on this Story: Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days cancelled for 2020

For more than 65 years, farmers have turned to the Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days for the latest information about new products and tools they can use to boost productivity and profit for their operations. However, for the first time in its history, the show won't go on. In the best interest of our visitors, exhibitors, partners and staff, Farm Progress has made the difficult decision to cancel both shows in 2020 due to rapidly changing conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Show management had confirmed earlier that the two shows would be operated differently with physical distancing a requirement, along with other health and safety changes to the events.

While state and local officials had expressed support for both shows, Don Tourte, Senior Vice President, Farm Progress said that in a very short time it became apparent that the situation across the US had rapidly changed.

"We have been working with officials in Iowa and Nebraska for our shows, and we appreciate the support they expressed for us to hold the events," Tourte says. "They are critical partners to us, and we are all disappointed to not host the events this year, but feel confident that this is the right decision for our community.”

One of the key features of both shows is their attraction to visitors from across the country, and across the globe.

"Within days of our commitment to hold both farm shows, more than half the United States saw a significant spike in new cases of COVID-19. We have a multi-generational audience that travels from all across the country and around the world to attend the shows and based on that we felt it better to reconsider the traditional show for 2020 to prioritize the safety of all. Our community’s safety is our priority, always,” said Matt Jungmann, Events Manager, Farm Progress.

"Within the next two weeks tents and other work would be underway on site. We had to make a decision based on the current landscape so that our exhibitors and suppliers wouldn’t potentially waste valuable time and resources,” said Jungmann.  “While we are hopeful that case numbers throughout the country will decrease soon, we felt compelled to  make a proactive decision on our community’s behalf, given the information we have today.”

A virtual experience was already being planned as an extension to the live event. Jungmann explains that while a virtual event won't give growers the true "tire kicking" experience of being at the show, the events team is gearing up to deliver a robust and dynamic digital experience.  

"Market factors are changing fast, and we'll have more information in the coming weeks about how our virtual experience will be expanded," Jungmann says. "We have 400 acres of corn at two sites that have to be harvested. Ground that must be tilled. We're looking at all of our options to ensure we keep our community connected and engaged."


An upcoming Nebraska Extension webinar will provide an overview of resources available to mitigate weather risk for forage production as farmers prepare for the July 15 sign-up deadline for the USDA’s Annual Forage Insurance Plan.

“Insurance Tools for Managing Forage Production Risk” will be presented on Thursday at noon, by Jay Parsons, an extension farm and ranch management specialist and professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics. It is part of a weekly webinar series produced by the department’s extension Farm and Ranch Management team.

Soil moisture and precipitation present some of the biggest risks for the approximately 60 million acres of forage that are harvested each year in the U.S. Production can vary greatly from one season to the next, depending on the weather. The webinar will cover a number of risk management tools, with an emphasis on the Annual Forage Insurance Plan, which insures annual crops planted for use as livestock feed or fodder against low precipitation.

It will be held live on Zoom for approximately one hour, including time for questions from participants. Registration is open to everyone at https://go.unl.edu/manage2020. Additional information, a schedule of other upcoming webinars and recordings of all sessions in the webinar series are available as well.

Weekly Weed Watch Videos Help Producers Scout

The Weekly Weed Watch is on, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach specialists, along with the Integrated Pest Management program, are providing a new video series on scouting and identifying different common weeds farmers find in their fields.

“Anyone involved in managing weeds, or just curious about these villains of the plant world, should watch this series to learn the keys to differentiate the many weed species that infest Iowa’s fields, lawns and other areas,” said Bob Hartzler, professor in agronomy and extension weed specialist at Iowa State University.

This series not only helps Iowans identify different weed species, but it also helps with comparing similar species, as well as explaining out how they are different from each other, according to Meaghan Anderson, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach.

The first two videos in the series are:
    Common Lambsquarters
    Woolly Cupgrass and Foxtail

The videos can be found on the Field Extension Education Laboratory Vlog playlist on the Iowa State University IPM YouTube page.

STAR Energy FS and GROWMARK FS to merge

STAR Energy FS, headquartered in Manson, Iowa, and GROWMARK FS, headquartered in Hartley, Iowa, are merging into one. The new company, named GROWMARK FS, will offer its farmer customers with a full line of agronomy, energy, and grain marketing needs.

“I’m excited about the opportunities that will come from the combination of these two organizations,” said STAR Energy FS General Manager Jeff Manthei. “Our farmer customers have long trusted FS for all of their farming needs and now they’ll be able to do so with one FS company.”

The new company will be headquartered in Manson, with Jeff Manthei serving as the general manager. Current GROWMARK FS General Manager Tim Berkland, will continue as the agronomy department manager of the new organization.

“Our two companies have served many of the same farms and farmers,” said Berkland. “By merging together, those farmers will now be able to get reliable supply of fuels and lubricants as well as the latest science and research-backed prescriptive nutrient recommendations for their specific operations.”

The merger is effective September 1, 2020. The new GROWMARK FS will have more than 90 employees.

STAR Energy FS is a full-service provider of refined and renewable fuels, lubricants and propane to farm and non-farm customers. STAR Energy FS also provides industry-leading technical services, information, and training to help manage customer fuel and lubricant needs. More information is available at starenergyfs.com.

GROWMARK FS is headquartered in Hartley, Iowa with branches across Northwest Iowa and Southeast South Dakota. GROWMARK FS Midwest employs approximately 60 individuals (including seasonal workers) and serves approximately 1,500 customers. GROWMARK FS Midwest offers agronomy, agri-finance, precision agriculture, nutrient management, energy, feed, grain, and turf products and services. More information is available at growmarkfs.com/midwest.

Sanitizer Donated for Distribution at RFA Special Events

Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy (SIRE), an ethanol plant in Council Bluffs, Iowa, has donated 1,000 bottles of its proprietary SIREtizer hand sanitizer to the Renewable Fuels Association, for free distribution at upcoming events—among which is the famous Sturgis motorcycle rally this summer in South Dakota, where RFA has had a presence for more than a decade.

“Like so many others in our industry, SIRE was able to step-up and help during this pandemic,” said SIRE CEO Mike Jerke. “We are pleased to be part of RFA's educational efforts and demonstrate that ethanol is not only cleaning our air but is also vital in fighting this pandemic.”

“SIREtizer is more than just a label, it has become a source of trust for the community, especially in the fight against COVID-19,” said Justin Schultz, SIRE’s Regulatory Manager. “Our team at SIRE is happy to support the RFA and we hope our product will continue to put minds at ease.”

In addition to Sturgis, RFA plans for the travel-size bottles—sporting RFA’s popular “Ethanol: Fueled with Pride” shield—to be available at upcoming Crappie Masters tournaments, special events where the Kenny Hauk-RFA Flex Fuel E85 Jeep Wrangler is displayed, and races involving the RFA Sponsored Tidd Racing E85 Can-Am. Also, on Capitol Hill, bottles will be distributed to offices of Iowa’s federal elected officials.

“We’re very grateful to Mike, Justin and the rest of the team at SIRE for this donation,” said Robert White, RFA Vice President for Industry Relations. “We want to ensure that people stay safe and healthy this summer, while enjoying the great outdoors, and we also hope this can help educate the public about one of the many unsung benefits of ethanol: It’s not just a great low-carbon fuel for our environment, it can help save lives. The CDC acknowledges that alcohol-based hand rubs like this one from SIRE are preferable to soap and water in fighting the COVID-19 virus.”

Providing Much Needed Boost to Beleaguered Biofuels Producers, Governor Reynolds Signs Biofuel Tax Differential Extension into Law

Today in front of dozens of biofuel supporters at Pine Lake Corn Processors ethanol plant, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed Senate File 2403 into law, extending Iowa’s biofuel tax differentials to June 30, 2026.

The bill unanimously passed both of Iowa’s legislative chambers earlier this June. It extends and modernizes fuel tax differentials for E15 and higher ethanol blends and B11 and higher biodiesel blends, which would have expired today, June 30, 2020.

“At today’s bill signing we say thank you to Governor Kim Reynolds for her leadership and strong support for Iowa biofuels,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Policy Director Nathan Hohnstein. “Reauthorization of the biofuel tax differentials will continue to expand Iowans’ access to cleaner-burning, home-grown biofuel blends like E15 and B11, supporting Iowa’s environment and economy at a time when it is much needed.

“We also thank Iowa’s legislative leaders for prioritizing this important bill for a vote during this truncated legislative session. Finally, we must thank Senator Randy Feenstra and Representative Louis Zumbach for managing the bill through to passage. Without such dedicated support by Iowa’s elected officials, today’s celebration would not have been possible.”

Reynolds also announced at the ceremony her intention to use $7 million of Iowa’s federal CARES Act funding to expand the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program, which provides fuel retailers with cost-share grants to upgrade fueling infrastructure to offer higher blends of biofuels.

“The Governor’s intention to boost funding for Iowa’s biofuel infrastructure grant program is a terrific and welcome surprise,” Hohnstein said. “Iowa’s biofuels producers have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic as travel has declined and fuel demand has plummeted. This additional funding will go a long way to increasing consumer access to higher biofuel blends and boosting biofuel demand!”  

Since the first fuel tax differential bill was passed, E10 and higher ethanol blends and B11 and higher biodiesel blends have grown to make up roughly 90% and 57% of sales in 2019, respectively. The new fuel tax differential modernizes the ethanol differential by applying it only to E15 and higher blends.

Naig: Investment in Renewable Fuels is an Investment in Iowa

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig issued the following statement today in response to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ signing Senate File 2403 into law, extending Iowa’s biofuel tax differentials to June 30, 2026.

“At a time of unprecedented challenges facing our renewable fuels industry, today is welcome news. The renewable fuels industry benefits Iowa farmers, supports jobs in rural communities and gives consumers access to affordable, cleaner-burning fuels,” said Secretary Naig. “Reauthorization of the biofuel tax differentials program will continue to boost biofuel demand. Gov. Reynolds’ commitment of an additional $7 million in funding for the RFIP program will allow us to further assist fuel marketers and retailers in building renewable fuels infrastructure, giving Iowans increased choices and savings at the pump. An investment in renewable fuels is an investment in Iowa."

Senate File 2403, a priority of Secretary Naig’s, extends and modernizes fuel tax differentials for E15 and higher ethanol blends and B11 and higher biodiesel blends, which are set to expire today on June 30, 2020. Since the first fuel tax differential bill was passed, E10 and higher ethanol blends and B11 and higher biodiesel blends, have grown to make up about 90 percent and 57 percent of sales in 2019, respectively. The new fuel tax differential modernizes the ethanol differential by applying it only to E15 and higher blends.

Iowa is one of a handful of states with a standing appropriation for a Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program (RFIP). The RFIP helps the operators of motor fuel dispensing sites or fueling stations to convert their equipment to allow the expanded use of renewable fuels in Iowa. Since its inception, the RFIP program has distributed or obligated more than $36 million to help fund 335 E85 dispensers/blenders, 54 E15 projects, 343 biodiesel dispensers/blenders and 141 biodiesel terminals across Iowa. Fuel marketers and retailers have responded by investing over $200 million in these same projects.

Growth Energy Applauds Update to Iowa Tax Differential for Biofuel Blends

Growth Energy, the nation’s largest ethanol association, today welcomed enactment of legislation extending and modernizing Iowa tax incentives for higher biofuel blends. Signed today by Governor Kim Reynolds, the new law reduces the per-gallon excise tax on E15 and higher ethanol blends and B11 and higher biodiesel blends through 2026.

“The tax update offers a welcome source of market certainty for Iowa biofuel producers and our farm suppliers, who have faced unprecedented economic challenges in the wake of COVID-19,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “We applaud Iowa lawmakers for crafting bipartisan legislation that can serve as an example for lawmakers nationwide seeking to support rural communities, save motorists money at the pump, and promote low-carbon fuels that keep our air clean. Smart tax policies like these are a proven strategy for accelerating infrastructure investments, creating rural jobs, and expanding consumer access to E15 and other higher biofuel blends.”

NCBA Applauds Introduction Of DIRECT Act

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) today applauded the introduction of the bipartisan legislation to create new direct-to-consumer options for beef producers, processors and small meat markets without compromising federal food safety standards or market access under existing trade agreements.

Introduced by U.S. Representatives Dusty Johnson (R - At-Large, SD) and Henry Cuellar (D - 28th Dist., TX), the Direct Interstate Retail Exemption for Certain Transactions (DIRECT) Act of 2020 would amend retail exemptions under current law to allow meat processed under state-inspected establishments to be sold across state lines through e-commerce, providing beef producers and local processors alike with more options to market direct-to-consumers.

“Over the past few months, more Americans looked to e-commerce to purchase essential goods like beef and an already booming online marketplace further evolved to facilitate purchases and meet consumer demands," said NCBA President Marty Smith, a family cow-calf operator from Wacahoota, Fla. "The American beef supply chain must evolve to keep up with the speed of commerce and the demands of modern-day consumers. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association supports the DIRECT Act because it helps make it easier for the American cattle producer to meet the growing demand of the American consumer to purchase safe and delicious U.S. beef.”

Currently, many states such as South Dakota and Texas have State Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) programs approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) as “at least equal to” standards set under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA). Under the existing framework however, state-inspected products can only be sold interstate if approved to do so under the Cooperative Interstate Shipping Program (CIS).

The DIRECT Act would amend the retail exemption under the FMIA and PPIA to allow processors, butchers or other retailers to sell normal retail quantities (300 lbs. of beef, 100 lbs. of pork, 27.5 lbs. of lamb) of MPI State Inspected Meat online to consumers across state lines. Because DIRECT Act sales are in e-commerce, sales are traceable and could easily be recalled. The proposal also includes clear prohibitions on export, keeping our equivalency agreements with trading partners intact. The DIRECT Act will allow states operating under the CIS system to ship and label as they are currently.

NCBA Responds to Congressional Climate Report

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Vice President, Government Affairs, Ethan Lane today released the following statement in response to a new Congressional report on climate change:

 "The report released today by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis is unfortunately the product of partisan discussions that failed to encompass important constituent communities across the country. NCBA is committed to working with Congress to find real solutions that set us on a path toward long-term environmental and economic sustainability.

"All segments of the beef supply chain – ranchers, feeders, haulers, processors, and retailers – play a necessary role in ensuring that beef consumption is a climate solution. Every cattle producer plays a role in cattle’s positive climate impact. Pasture-based operations cultivate healthy soil to improve carbon storage, grazing reduces fine fuels that contribute to catastrophic wildfire that causes significant air pollution and long-term damage to soil and water health, and advancements in feed efficiency directly reduce methane emissions. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, methane from beef cattle accounts for only 2% of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions while providing a host of opportunities for improved carbon storage in landscapes across the country.

"NCBA will continue working to ensure that all segments of the beef supply chain are recognized for their beneficial contributions and do not face punitive measures that unfairly or inaccurately target domestic food and fiber production. Voluntary, inventive-based conservation is the most fruitful path to conserving America’s agricultural land through increased adoption of sustainable management practices. Consistent, achievable conservation goals ensure that all farmers and ranchers, regardless of size or segment, have the necessary resources to continue producing the world’s safest beef."

NCBA Helps Lead Coalition to Close $630 Million Shortfall for Inspections of Agricultural Products

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) today helped lead a coalition of more than 150 agricultural organizations in urging Congressional appropriators to close an estimated $630 million funding shortfall for the Customs and Border Protection’s (CPB’s) Agriculture Quarantine Inspection (AQI) at U.S. ports of entry. The coalition stated its case in a letter to members of the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

CPB Agriculture Specialists, Technicians, and Canine Teams inspect ag imports to prevent the entry of foreign plant and animal pests and diseases such as Food and Mouth Disease. The inspections are ordinarily funded by AQI user fees that are collected by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), but those user fees have dropped dramatically as international travel and cargo imports have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The shortfall in funding for AQI at ports of entry through the end of fiscal year 2021 is estimated to be $630 million.

“We urge Congress to ensure that the essential work of CBP agriculture inspectors continues uninterrupted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” the coalition’s letter said. “We depend on AQI to ensure that America’s agriculture sector remains safe from foreign animal and plant pests and diseases. It is inconceivable that Congress would risk widespread damage to U.S. agriculture and the overall economy by not funding these inspections.”

“The pandemic has already had a devastating impact on our nation’s citizens and on our economy,” said NCBA Executive Director, Government Affairs, Allison Rivera.  “We need to continue to fund our CBP Ag Inspectors and give them the resources they need so that they may continue to be vigilant at our ports of entry in order to keep out foreign animal diseases and pests. 

 Seeking Applicants for the 2021 ASA Corteva Agriscience Young Leader Program

The American Soybean Association (ASA) and Corteva Agriscience are seeking applicants for the 2021 ASA Corteva Agriscience Young Leader Program.

The Young Leader Program, sponsored by Corteva Agriscience and ASA, is a two-phase educational program for actively farming individuals and couples who are passionate about the future possibilities of agriculture. The women and men who participate in this program will be the leaders that shape the future of agriculture.

“The ASA Corteva Agriscience Young Leader Program is a phenomenal opportunity for any person or couple who is interested. It is so much more than just a few days of leadership training in a classroom. During the training we were able to interact with people involved in multiple aspects of the soybean industry. We got updates on everything from government regulation, to seed and chemical updates, to trade information, and even a look at trends into the future. The insight we received from these industry leaders was truly amazing,” Lucas and Becky Miller, Class of 2020.

Phase I of the 2021 ASA Corteva Agriscience Young Leader Program will take place Dec. 1 – 4, 2020 at Corteva’s Global Business Center in Johnston, Iowa. The program continues March 2 – 6, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas in conjunction with the annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show.

“The Young Leader program has had a tremendous impact on the soybean industry. Many of the leaders at the state and national level got their start in this program, including me,” ASA President Bill Gordon said. “The Young Leader program is special because it focuses on the grower’s potential while helping them creating meaningful and lifelong relationships with growers from across the U.S. and Canada. This is extremely important as we work to ensure growers have the tools, they need to be profitable. The program also includes both partners in the operation which builds both the business and the industry. We are grateful to Corteva Agriscience for continuing to invest in the future of agriculture.”

Soybean grower couples and individuals are encouraged to apply for the program, which focuses on leadership and communication, the latest agricultural information, and the development of a strong peer network. Spouses, even those not employed full-time on farm, are encouraged to attend and will be active participants in all elements of the program.

ASA, its 26 state affiliates, the Grain Farmers of Ontario and Corteva Agriscience, will work together to identify the top producers to represent their state as part of this program.

“America’s farmers provide the strongest voice for, not only agriculture, but also for rural America. We are proud to support the young leader program, which is developing the next generation of grower leaders and advocates for U.S. agriculture,” said Matt Rekeweg, U.S. Industry Affairs Leader, Corteva Agriscience.

Applications are being accepted online now. Interested applicants should click here https://soygrowers.com/education-resources/grower-education/leadership-development-programs/young-leader-program/ for additional program information and to apply.

Cull Cow Market Dynamics

Josh Maples, Extension Economist, Mississippi State University

No segment of the cattle industry has been spared from the uncertainty and turmoil driven by COVID-19. However, the dynamics for the slaughter cow market have been a little different than those for the live cattle coming from feedlots that have garnered the most discussion due to plant disruptions.

Slaughter cow prices have been one of the few bright spots for cattle producers over the past few months. Slaughter cow prices in the Southern Plains averaged $57.84 over the past 6 weeks of available data which is 19.5 percent above the same period in 2019. Generally, cull cow markets are most directly related with ground beef demand.

Cull cow slaughter comes from both beef and dairy cows. In 2019, the split for total federally inspected cow slaughter was about 50/50 between beef and dairy cows. But the seasonal patterns of beef and dairy cow slaughter are a little different. Dairy cow slaughter typically declines from the first of the year to a seasonal low in June/July. Beef cow slaughter varies too with production cycles and declines in the summer but is typically a little more consistent than dairy through the spring and summer months before peaking as the winter months approach.

A look at the processing changes during the worst months of plant labor disruptions shows that beef and dairy cow slaughter faced different reductions. The worst week for beef cow slaughter capacity compared to 2019 was in late April when beef cow slaughter was 19.5 percent below the same week a year ago. Total dairy cow slaughter didn't show the same level of reductions compared to a year ago. Dairy cow slaughter declined from week-to-week for most of the Spring but that occurred alongside the typical seasonal decline.

The number of beef cows processed increased through May and into June. For the first two weeks of June, beef cow slaughter is up 6.7 percent compared to the same two weeks a year ago. Similar to what occurred in calf and feeder cattle sales, at least some of this increase may likely be due to sales delays caused by producers' decisions to wait or by auction slowdowns. The relatively strong prices combined with the low beef cow slaughter in April provides rationale for the increase in beef cow slaughter in June.

For the year, beef cow slaughter is up about 2 percent while dairy cow slaughter is down 2 percent. Together, year-to-date total cow slaughter is about the same as compared to a year ago. Lower calf prices could drive increased beef cow culling later in the year. Dairy slaughter is near the seasonal low point and milk prices have rebounded which may likely prevent significant dairy cow culling. While the supply picture is becoming a little clearer, ground beef demand will continue be key for support of beef cow cull prices.

USDA’s Tips for a Food Safe July 4th

Many Americans will be celebrating the Fourth of July outdoors this year, with celebrations including barbecues, picnics and fireworks. No matter how you’re celebrating the Fourth of July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) encourages you to make food safety a part of the celebrations.

“Foodborne illness can increase during summer because of the warmer temperatures and time spent outside,” said Dr. Mindy Brashears, the USDA’s Under Secretary for Food Safety. “As we gather with family and friends to celebrate this Fourth of July holiday, I encourage consumers to remember and use food safety steps to reduce their risk of illness.”

Follow these tips from USDA to ensure a food safe Fourth of July:

Don’t Cross-Contaminate

Always keep raw meat and their juices from touching other foods. Avoid using the same utensils that can come into contact with raw meat or poultry while grilling with ready-to-eat foods. Wash and sanitize all surfaces and utensils after they touch raw items. A recent USDA survey showed that 34 percent of respondents do not use a different utensil to take food off the grill. Bring enough tools to keep your raw meat and poultry away from any cooked or ready-to-eat foods and have extra cleaning and sanitizing supplies ready for your surfaces, plates and utensils.

Use a Food Thermometer

Some grill masters may say they know their food is done just by looking at its color when it comes off the grill. That’s not possible and shouldn’t be relied upon. This is where a food thermometer comes in.

“More than 25 percent of burgers can turn brown inside before they are fully cooked,” says FSIS Administrator Paul Kiecker. “Although your grilled foods may look done, foodborne illness causing bacteria are not killed until the safe internal temperature has been reached. Using a food thermometer is the only way to know your food is done and safe to eat.”

The USDA recommended safe minimum internal temperatures are:
    Beef, pork, lamb and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145°F with a three-minute rest time
    Fish: 145°F
    Ground meats (beef, pork, lamb and veal): 160°F
    Whole poultry, poultry breasts and ground poultry: 165°F

Keep Foods at a Safe Temperature

Perishable food items should not be left outside for more than two hours, and only one hour if the temperature is at or above 90°F. Keep your food at or below 40°F, in coolers or containers with a cold source, such as ice or frozen gel packs. This includes any leftovers from the grill, cold salads and even cut fruits and vegetables. Leftovers should be refrigerated or placed back in the cooler within 2 hours of being placed outside (1 hour if temperatures are at or above 90°F). If you are not sure how long food has been sitting out, throw it out immediately.

If you have questions about these tips, or any other food safety topics, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live at ask.usda.gov from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

RFA Welcomes Inclusion of Low Carbon Fuel Standard in Select Committee Recommendations

Today, Democrats on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis unveiled a comprehensive action plan to promote a clean energy economy and combat climate change. The report, which lays out a series of policy recommendations for Congress aimed at significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the decades ahead, highlights renewable fuels like ethanol as one key piece of the strategy. Among the report’s many recommendations are development of a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), broad deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and incentivizing increased agricultural carbon sequestration.

“RFA continues to analyze the report, but at first blush we are highly encouraged by the Select Committee’s acknowledgement that renewable fuels like ethanol can play an important role in reducing the carbon impacts of our nation’s transportation sector in the future,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “RFA agrees with the Committee that widespread use of liquid fuels and internal combustion engines will continue for decades to come, and we welcome the recommendation to create a nationwide technology- and feedstock-neutral Low Carbon Fuel Standard. The Committee correctly points out that the LCFS policy model already has a proven track record and that renewable fuels have played a crucial role in achieving the objectives of the California LCFS. We also concur with the Committee’s position that high-octane, low-carbon fuels could deliver substantial carbon benefits at a low cost in the years ahead.”

“Finally, we are very pleased to see the Committee recognize the efforts of a broad coalition of stakeholders—including RFA—who recently developed a framework and set of guiding principles for a Midwest LCFS program. RFA served on the steering committee for the Midwest LCFS coalition, and we prioritized the inclusion of approaches that would reward farmers for reducing the carbon intensity of agricultural practices; we were happy to see the Committee recommend including incentives for lower-carbon farming practices in a national LCFS program.”

While the report offers only broad recommendations, Cooper underscored that the yet-to-be-developed details surrounding potential implementation of the recommendations will be crucially important. “The big picture presented in the report is promising, but the devil is always in the details—and those details won’t be hammered out until the committees of jurisdiction begin crafting legislation based on these recommendations,” he said. Cooper cited lifecycle assessment methods, the carbon intensity reduction curve, land use measures, and the interaction of a national LCFS with state programs and the Renewable Fuel Standard as examples of “details that matter.”

Overall, however, RFA views the report as a crucial step forward in the discussion surrounding decarbonization of the nation’s transportation sector. “RFA looks forward to continuing its engagement and interaction with the Select Committee and other committees as the next steps are taken toward addressing carbon emissions and climate change,” Cooper said.

ACE Commends House Climate Committee for Report Acknowledging Ethanol is Part of the Solution to Reduce GHG Emissions

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on the Climate Crisis released its report providing recommendations for future legislation in Congress to tackle climate change. American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings issued the following statement:

“ACE commends the Select Committee for including a recommendation in its report that Congress should develop a technology-neutral Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) which would reward farmers and biofuel producers for using climate-smart practices. It is gratifying so many in Congress are recognizing that increasing the use of ethanol is part of the solution to further reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Properly crafted low carbon fuel policy built on top of the Renewable Fuel Standard’s success in beginning to break our country’s reliance on petroleum is one of the most meaningful things Congress can do to address climate change.

“The Select Committee’s recommendation for a new LCFS follows the strategic spade work ACE has been doing to leverage ethanol’s low carbon benefits in the market. In 2018 we issued a white paper “The Case for Properly Valuing the Low Carbon Benefits of Corn Ethanol,” illustrating how lifecycle modeling needs to better reflect modern-day farming practices and ethanol production technologies and why increasing ethanol use is part of the solution to further reduce GHG emissions. In 2019 ACE helped lead a diverse set of stakeholders in developing a framework to encourage new low carbon fuel markets in the Midwest. Our January 2020 report, “A Clean Fuels Policy for the Midwest,” describes how properly crafted policy can spur low carbon fuels, reduce costs to consumers, and provide meaningful economic benefits to farmers and biofuel producers.

“The Select Committee’s report not only cites our Midwest Clean Fuel Policy framework as a positive example of progress, it also mirrors our recommendations to reflect the best-available science for lifecycle assessments and reward farmers and biofuel producers using climate-smart practices that reduce carbon emissions, store soil carbon, and reduce nitrous oxide emissions.

“While the Select Committee also recommends what it describes as a ‘zero-emission vehicle’ standard, we believe a new vehicle program needs to be technology-neutral and include production of more Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) that can take full advantage of carbon-negative ethanol fuels.

“We appreciate the collaborative nature of the Congressional process so far and look forward to constructively engaging in supporting solutions that benefit our climate, drivers, and our rural economy.”

House Climate Action Report Recognizes Biofuels as a Solution to Decarbonizing Transportation Sector

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on the Climate Crisis issued an action plan to build a clean energy economy in the U.S. Growth Energy appreciates the Committee’s inclusion of biofuels as an important component of a comprehensive plan to decarbonize the transportation sector.

"The evidence is clear that biofuels offer an immediate path toward decarbonization, while replacing toxic fuel additives that poison our air, " said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. "Federal data show that U.S. ethanol cuts carbon emissions by 39 percent or more – and that’s only a floor – with the potential to achieve much more thanks to innovations in agriculture and ethanol production. In fact, biofuels are responsible for nearly 80 percent of all the carbon reductions credited under California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), with the recorded carbon intensity of ethanol declining nearly 33 percent since 2011.

"We appreciate the hard work of lawmakers seeking to accelerate our progress toward a healthy climate and are pleased that this report recognizes that a zero carbon future must include all clean transportation solutions—from ethanol to electric vehicles. We stand ready to explore policies and opportunities which showcase low-carbon, liquid fuels’ role in reducing emissions and pollution, and driving innovation for low-to-zero carbon renewable fuels."

Monday June 29 Ag News


For the week ending June 28, 2020, there were 6.0 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 11% very short, 32% short, 55% adequate, and 2% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 7% very short, 24% short, 67% adequate, and 2% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 1% very poor, 4% poor, 19% fair, 55% good, and 21% excellent. Corn silking was 1%, near 3% for the five-year average.

Soybean condition rated 1% very poor, 4% poor, 20% fair, 58% good, and 17% excellent. Soybeans blooming was 27%, ahead of 12% average. Setting pods was 1%.

Winter wheat condition rated 3% very poor, 12% poor, 29% fair, 52% good, and 4% excellent. Winter wheat harvested was 1%, near 4% average.

Sorghum condition rated 0% very poor, 2% poor, 27% fair, 62% good, and 9% excellent. Sorghum headed was 6%, near 8% last year and 3% average.

Oats condition rated 1% very poor, 7% poor, 35% fair, 49% good, and 8% excellent. Oats headed was 90%, well ahead of 69% last year, and equal to average.

Dry edible bean condition rated 0% very poor, 0% poor, 26% fair, 67% good, and 7% excellent. Dry edible beans emerged was 95%, well ahead of 69% last year. Blooming was 3%.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 4% very poor, 8% poor, 22% fair, 62% good, and 4% excellent.


 Precipitation limited Iowa farmers to 4.5 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending June 28, 2020, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Northeast Iowa saw the highest rainfall and some severe weather. Fieldwork activities included applying fertilizer, spraying, harvesting hay and hauling grain.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 2% very short, 9% short, 81% adequate and 8% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 1% very short, 7% short, 85% adequate and 7% surplus.

There were scattered reports of corn beginning to silk in the State. Corn condition rated 85% good to excellent.

Soybean emergence reached 98%, over 2 weeks ahead of last year and 5 days ahead of the 5-year average. Soybean blooming reached 16%, almost 2 weeks ahead of last year and 5 days ahead of average. Soybean condition rated 83% good to excellent.

Oats headed progressed to 86%, 6 days ahead of last year. Oat condition rated 82% good to excellent.

Ninety-seven percent of the first cutting of alfalfa hay has been completed. Alfalfa hay second cutting reached 9%, 1 week ahead of last year but 4 days behind the average. Hay condition rated 75% good to excellent.

Pasture condition rated 69% good to excellent. Some cow/calf operations reported pinkeye issues with insect pressure also mentioned.

USDA:  Corn Rated 73% Good to Excellent, Soybeans 71% Good to Excellent

Corn and soybean conditions rose slightly last week and remain among the highest of the past decade, USDA NASS said in its weekly Crop Progress report on Monday.

NASS estimated that 73% of the corn crop was in good-to-excellent condition as of Sunday, June 28, up 1 percentage point from 72% the previous week and well above 56% at the same time a year ago.  NASS estimated that 4% of corn was silking, slightly ahead of 2% last year and slightly behind the five-year average of 7%.

Soybean emergence was estimated at 95% as of Sunday, 15 percentage points ahead of last year's 80% and 4 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 91%. Soybeans blooming was estimated at 14%, 3 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 11%.  NASS estimated national soybean crop condition at 71% good to excellent, also up 1 percentage points from 70% the previous week.

Winter wheat harvest moved ahead 12 percentage points last week to reach 41% complete as of Sunday, equal to the five-year average.  Winter wheat condition -- for the portion of the crop still in fields -- was rated 52% good to excellent, unchanged from the previous week.

Spring wheat headed was estimated at 36%, 9 percentage points behind the average of 45%. Spring wheat condition was estimated at 69% good to excellent, down 6 percentage points from 75% the previous week.

Farm Progress Show, Husker Harvest Days Canceled After All

For more than 65 years, farmers have turned to the Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days for the latest information about new products and tools they can use to boost productivity and profit for their operations. However, for the first time in its history, the show won't go on. In the best interest of our visitors, exhibitors, partners and staff, Farm Progress has made the difficult decision to cancel both shows in 2020 due to rapidly changing conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Show management had confirmed earlier that the two shows would be operated differently with physical distancing a requirement, along with other health and safety changes to the events.

While state and local officials had expressed support for both shows, Don Tourte, Senior Vice President, Farm Progress said that in a very short time it became apparent that the situation across the US had rapidly changed.

"We have been working with officials in Iowa and Nebraska for our shows, and we appreciate the support they expressed for us to hold the events," Tourte says. "They are critical partners to us, and we are all disappointed to not host the events this year, but feel confident that this is the right decision for our community." Rising concerns

One of the key features of both shows is their attraction to visitors from across the country, and across the globe.

"Within days of our commitment to hold both farm shows, more than half the United States saw a significant spike in new cases of COVID-19. We have a multi-generational audience that travels from all across the country and around the world to attend the shows and based on that we felt it better to reconsider the traditional show for 2020 to prioritize the safety of all. Our community's safety is our priority, always," said Matt Jungmann, Events Manager, Farm Progress.

A virtual experience was already being planned as an extension to the live event. Jungmann explains that while a virtual event won't give growers the true "tire kicking" experience of being at the show, the events team is gearing up to deliver a robust and dynamic digital experience.

LENRD board votes to repair damages caused from flooding at Willow Creek

At their June board meeting, the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Board of Directors voted to repair the damages at the Willow Creek State Recreation Area (SRA) southwest of Pierce.  The 2019 flood caused an estimated $229,400 worth of damages to the recreation area.  The LENRD owns the property and is in a lease agreement with the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission (NGPC) for the management of the area.  The NGPC is requesting assistance for only a portion of the damages that were not covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  The LENRD board agreed to pay 50%, up to $24,000, to repair the damaged fishing decks, lake crossing, fishing piers, and hiking/biking trail at the Willow Creek SRA.

In other action, the board approved the Interlocal Agreement with the City of Clarkson for their levee project.  The term of the agreement is 3 years and enables the LENRD to assist the City in obtaining accreditation by FEMA for their flood control levee.  Accreditation will show that the levee provides protection from a 100-year storm.

The board also approved the recommended changes to the Agroforestry Program, the water well decommissioning program, and the Conservation Cost-share Program.  The Agroforestry program will increase to a maximum payment per job/landowner to $20,000 per year for renovations or establishments.  The Conservation Cost-Share program will add variable rate irrigation systems.  The water well decommissioning program will also increase to a maximum payment per well to $1,000 for hand dug wells and $700 for all other wells.

The LENRD staff are working proactively with landowners and farm operators to achieve 100% compliance with the Phase 2 & 3 reporting forms in the Groundwater Management Areas.  The board directed staff to issue notices of violation, as deemed necessary, to the producers who have yet to submit their reports.

The board also directed staff to proceed with a NRCS Watershed Flood Prevention Operations (WFPO) application for the North Fork Elkhorn Watershed.  If approved, the funding would be used to evaluate potential flood prevention, watershed protection, and agricultural water management projects in the area which includes the communities of Plainview, Foster, Osmond, Wausa, McLean, and Pierce.

In other business, the board approved the 2020 Master Plan.  This plan is required by state statute every 10 years and includes updates and responses to the district’s goals and 12 responsibilities.

The board also approved the salary allowance adjustment of 1.483% and the step and grade changes for the staff for Fiscal Year 2021.

The LENRD board & staff meet each month to develop and implement management plans to protect our natural resources for the future.  The next LENRD board meeting will be Thursday, July 23rd at 7:30 p.m.  Watch for further updates and stay connected with the LENRD by subscribing to their monthly emails at www.lenrd.org.


Bruce Anderson has been making hay with the Hay and Forage Minute radio program, which airs on stations across Nebraska, since February 1991. Over nearly 30 years, Anderson, a Nebraska Extension forage specialist, has written and recorded more than 3,000 radio shows on warm-season grasses, forage quality for hay and pasture systems, and forage-livestock systems. 

Anderson, who grew up on a small dairy farm in south-central Minnesota, started his first job out of college at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln on Sept. 7, 1979. He never left.

“I never saw any opportunities that would provide me something that I could accomplish more there than I could here,” Anderson said.

When the Hay and Forage Minute first started, it aired only on KRVN, which soon found a sponsor for the program.

“It became a no-brainer after a while,” Anderson said. “I knew it was something that could really fit and nobody else was doing it.”

In its second year, the program expanded from the KRVN station in Lexington to stations in West Point and Grand Island. Since then, as many as 50 Nebraska radio stations pick up the program weekly.

Anderson is set to retire on June 30, during National Forage Week.

He said his work on the program has been rewarding.  

“I think that it’s easy to discuss challenges that producers have — Nebraskans are good at asking questions,” Anderson said. “They recognize that there’s nothing to be ashamed of about talking about things that aren’t going well or that they want to try. I think I’ve been able to effectively encourage them to do so and be comfortable in the discussions. That has been the rewarding thing about the whole business.”

The foundation and following Anderson has built will continue in a slightly modified program called the Pasture and Forage Minute, a Nebraska Extension production.

Daren Redfearn, Nebraska Extension forage systems specialist, who began his graduate program at Nebraska in the early ’90s when Anderson first kicked off the Hay and Forage Minute, is one of four extension professionals who will succeed Anderson.

“We wanted this to continue with the primary forage flavor, if you will,” Redfearn said. “When we need to step across the discipline lines, we are able to do that, as well. We hope to not leave anybody out, and we hope to draw some new folks in.”

The other voices of the Pasture and Forage Minute will be Ben Beckman, beef systems educator; Megan Taylor, cropping systems specialist; and Brad Schick, beef systems educator. Along with Redfearn, they will produce three Pasture and Forage Minute programs per week.

In Nebraska, the forage, pasture and grassland industry is worth $2 billion annually.

The Pasture and Forage Minute will continue with its well-known radio spots but will expand to include an in-depth podcast to reach agricultural businesses, producers who are livestock-based with some forages, and crop producers who raise forages without livestock.

“The thing that makes Nebraska unique is that we’ve got an awful lot of grassland in the state, in addition to alfalfa and grass hay production,” Redfearn said. “I think that’s going to open up our audience quite a bit just because of the diversity of forage management systems that we have in Nebraska.”

As for Anderson, he will custom graze cow-calf pairs on the farm this summer and garden.

Nebraska Pork Expo Webinar Set for Wednesday, July 8.

Anyone involved or interested in pork production is urged to attend the virtual Nebraska Pork Expo on Wednesday, July 8th.

The program will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. online. This is a free webinar, but registration is required to get the link to join. Register online prior to July 8th at becomeafan.org. Again, registration is required.

Whether large, small, contract, independent or just learning about the industry, attendees will hear sessions including nutrient management, county zoning regulations and permitting processes, financial considerations, and secure pork supply. The day includes panel discussions covering workforce, niche pig production, and integrated pork production. Carrie Horezeck, Innovation and Foresight Consultant, will round out the day with a conversation on Generation Z and how younger generations view pork protein.

This event is sponsored by the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN), the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.

“The pork industry in Nebraska continues to grow and there are many great options for farmers depending on your operation and goals.  There are opportunities in direct to user sales, working as an independent producer for a niche market as well as several types of integrated models.  Adding a pork component to a farming operation increases cash flow and provides valuable nutrients that can offset commercial fertilizer costs.”  Said Steve Martin, Executive Director of AFAN.

To register visit www.becomeafan.org.            

Summer Fly Control in Feedlots

Steve Niemeyer – NE Extension Educator

Key Takeaways

Flies not only are an annoyance, they can reduce performance and worsen heat stress.
Successful control strategies start with sanitation.
Sprays, biological controls, or feed additives may also help reduce fly pressure in feedlots.
Just as longer days mark the beginning of summer, so does the arrival of increased number of flies in feedlots.
Stable flies and house flies are the most common pests of cattle in feedlots. Of the two species, stable flies cause the greatest economic loss. As few as five stable flies per leg can reduce ADG by 3 to 20% during a summer. Most of that lost performance results from the indirect effects of flies, such as bunching and increased heat stress, along with the energy losses from flighting flies. Flies also act as disease vectors and can lead to poorer relations between feedlots and their neighbors.

Sanitation is Key

Controlling feedlot flies starts with sanitation. Without this key step, any of the other mitigation strategies will likely be disappointments. Stable flies breed in mixtures of spilled feed and manure, especially around feeding aprons, under feed bunks, feed storage areas, and under fences. Any wet or stagnant area where with combinations of organic matter, manure and soil can be a potential trouble spot. Removing feed and manure from these areas promptly deprives the flies of potential breeding areas, which in turns helps prevent explosive increases in fly populations.
Stable flies are most active between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M., after that they seek shaded areas to roost. Eliminating weedy areas around the edges of pens, near feed storage areas, or along the edges of manure containment facilities reduces the number of “safe spaces” for flies which should help keep populations in check.
The life cycle of a stable fly lasts about 2 to 3 weeks, so scraping pens every 14 days reduces the opportunities for the flies to reproduce. Hoof action also disrupts the life cycle, so keeping pens fully stocked will help to reduce fly numbers, if mud issues can be avoided.

What About Chemical Control?

Chemical controls can be a part of a fly control plan in conjunction with sanitation efforts. Stable flies prefer to feed on the front legs of cattle, meaning that getting good spray coverage for this pest is difficult. Spraying the animals directly would only provide short-term relief but could still be useful as a quick “knock-down” to reduce pressure while implementing other practices. Premise sprays may be more effective, especially in areas where the flies rest such as vegetation or on shady sides of structures.

Biological Control Strategies

Biological control using parasitic wasps is another option to consider. Parasitic wasps lay eggs in the pupae of flies. These wasps can reduce the number of adult flies in a feedlot and delay the peak in population if the parasite population is high enough during the fly breeding season. This strategy is not a “quick fix”, but rather a part of a longer-term strategy to reduce fly pressure.
Finding a reputable supplier who can provide the right species and manage the release is a key factor to successfully implement a biological control strategy s for optimal results. Periodic releases throughout the fly season are more effective than one massive release.
Sanitation is still critically important with biological control programs. If the fly breeding areas are too large, the flies will simply overwhelm the ability of the parasitic wasps resulting in little to no effect on cattle performance or overall fly populations. Reducing the number of breeding areas will concentrate the flies and help make the parasite control more effective. It is important to remember not to use chemical control in all the breeding areas when using parasitic wasps. The parasite requires live pupae to reproduce.

How About Feed Additives?

Several feed additives have been developed for use with pasture cattle, particularly for face and horn flies. If a feeder is considering using either an insect growth regulator (IGR) or larvicide product, make certain that they are labeled as being effective against stable flies and house flies.
Adding garlic to mineral mixtures at a rate of 2% has been promoted as a potential fly repellent. The amount of research data on this strategy is limited. One published study from Canada reported reduced fly numbers in grazing cattle when garlic was added to the mineral. While this is only one study and it was not conducted in a feedlot setting, this could still be worth considering as a component of a multi-faceted control strategy, particularly if the costs were reasonable.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Urges President to Use “Full Powers” to Enforce Phase One China Deal

As Nebraska farmers and ranchers continue to suffer the negative economic and market effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nebraska Farm Bureau is urging President Trump to use the “full powers” of his office to enforce the Phase One China trade deal. Provisions of the agreement obligate China to make $36.5 billion in U.S. agriculture purchases in 2020.

“While some agricultural purchases have been made, China is woefully behind in terms of meeting the agriculture targets outlined in the in the Phase One deal,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president. “In order to reach the $36.5 billion in imports China agreed to, purchases must drastically increase, and that must start today.”

In a letter to President Trump, Nelson pointed out that as of the end of April, China had imported approximately $4.6 billion worth of agricultural goods. The amount falls far short of the pace set back in 2017 of $7.1 billion; the last year of normal trade relations between the two countries.

China has been a vital market for Nebraska farmers and rancher, serving as a consistent top three market for Nebraska agriculture products year in and year out. Prior to 2018, Nebraska agriculture exports to China ranged from $936 million to more than $1 billion, equating to 15 percent of Nebraska’s total agriculture exports. The value of exports to China during that time equated to roughly $19,300 per farm in Nebraska.

“For more than two years, Nebraska’s farm and ranch families have felt the economic consequences of the trade war with China…a war they both understand and largely support. However, that support is based on the promise of more export markets and a better deal for farmers and ranchers when the dust settles. Now is the time to ensure China fully complies and meets their agricultural import targets as part of this historic agreement,” said Nelson.

Governors to EPA: Drop the Gap-Year Waivers

Members of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition today urged U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler to drop the 52 retroactive “gap-year” RFS waivers requested recently by oil refiners. The Renewable Fuels Association thanked them for their effort.

"These governors have witnessed first-hand the significant effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. ethanol industry and know that now is not the time for EPA to give in to oil-industry demands and harm the rural American economy further,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “The governors know the value of our members’ work in creating jobs and economic opportunity throughout the American heartland, and we thank them for their passion for this cause.”

The idea of retroactive refinery exemptions follows a recent decision by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals that rejected a set of waivers granted by EPA that were not simple extensions of prior waivers. The lawsuit was brought against EPA by RFA, the National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union and the American Coalition for Ethanol.

Seeking to get around this court decision, several refineries have now applied for retroactive waivers for years in which they did not originally ask for, or receive, a waiver. On June 18, EPA disclosed that 52 new petitions had been received, covering the compliance years 2011 through 2018. In late May, RFA was the first to urge Wheeler to deny any gap-year waivers that came forward. Last week, a bipartisan group of 16 U.S. senators called on Wheeler to reject the waivers. Now, RFA noted, it’s good to see the governors agree on the urgency of the matter.

Representing the governors' coalition on this effort are Govs. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Tim Walz of Minnesota, Kim Reynolds of Iowa and Pete Ricketts of Nebraska.

“Even before the coronavirus pandemic,” the governors wrote, “the misuse of small refinery waivers under the RFS caused a significant number of plants to partially or fully shut down. The resulting job losses, decreases in commodity purchases and prices, and shortages of co-products affect rural America every day. Your approval of these SRE ‘gap filings’ would only worsen unprecedented economic challenges facing the renewable fuels industry and rural communities.”

Growth Energy Cheers Governors’ Biofuels Coalition Opposition to Gap Year Exemptions

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor today thanked the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, which issued a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opposing retroactive small refinery exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The governors noted, “Approving prior-year SREs in this manner ignores the court’s decision and congressional intent and will severely impact farmers and rural communities that support the biofuels industry.” The letter was signed by coalition co-chairs South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, as well as Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts. It echoes last week’s call by Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who warned the agency that, “Our producers need certainty; until we get that, no EPA nominee is getting my vote.”

“We’re grateful to Governors Noem, Walz, Reynolds, and Ricketts for standing up against this latest scheme to steal markets from struggling farmers and biofuel workers,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “From state capitols to the U.S. senate, rural champions are putting their foot down because there is no excuse for allowing these regulatory games to hold back the rural recovery. The last thing farm states need right now is another legal battle driving uncertainty in the market and undermining efforts to rebuild the agricultural supply chain.”

Ernst to Join Iowa Farmers Union Members for Q&A Forum

Iowa Famers Union is working to elevate the collective voice of farmers in their membership by hosting a question and answer forum with Senator Joni Ernst. This event aims to provide IFU members with the opportunity to ask Ernst crucial questions on the current state of the agriculture industry.

Iowa Farmers Union members and others are invited to attend the virtual discussion with Ernst on June 30 starting at 2:30 p.m. CT.

"Farmers are facing extremely difficult challenges," said IFU President Aaron Lehman. "We are excited to give our members the opportunity to ask Senator Ernst about the tough issues faced by family-scale farmers and rural Iowans."

IFU encourages all members to show up for this important discussion.

To learn more or to register for the discussion with Senator Ernst, visit https://bit.ly/2NDL9ud

Naig Announces “Pack the Pantry” Program to Support Food Pantries, Boost Availability of Iowa Ag Products

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today announced the “Pack the Pantry” grant program to help Iowa food pantries meet increasing food demands due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through “Pack the Pantry,” food pantries can apply for grants to increase their refrigeration capacity, which allows them to offer more perishable, locally-grown foods.

The program is made possible by CARES Act funding and is an initiative of Gov. Reynolds’ Feeding Iowans Task Force led by Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg. Iowa Egg Council is also contributing resources to support the effort.

Through “Pack the Pantry,” the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will award local food pantries up to $10,000 to install refrigeration and cooler units. To apply, pantry directors should fill out the application found here. The application will be open until July 17, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.

“In Iowa, we have seen our producers, business owners, and families step up to help those in need,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Today’s announcement is a great next step to address food insecurity. The ‘Pack the Pantry’ grant program will provide our food pantries with the tools they need to help even more Iowans have access to nutritious food.”

“Food pantries are the first, local line of defense against hunger in communities across Iowa. More refrigeration at food pantries means more Iowa eggs, dairy, produce and meat can get on plates where it’s needed most. I’m grateful that our farmers can be part of that solution,” said Secretary Naig.

“Refrigeration capacity is a barrier which limits the ability of food pantries to provide their clients with fresh protein and dairy products, and this issue is especially acute in rural Iowa,” said Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, Chair of the Feeding Iowans Task Force. “With demand for food assistance at record highs, these dollars will go a long way in expanding food pantry capacity.”

“This program will help ensure the health of our communities by addressing food insecurity and increasing access to fresh, locally grown food for residents,” said Tom Mahoney, Chairman of  the Board of ITA Group Holdings and Board Chair of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “Pack the Pantry is an example of what we can accomplish when Iowans work together to help those in need.”

A summary of food resources available to those in need is available at coronavirus.iowa.gov.

FFAR Grant to Accelerate Crop Development

To meet the growing global food demand, plant breeding technology must increase crop yields in less time. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $748,548 Seeding Solutions grant to Iowa State University of Science and Technology to accelerate crop development. Iowa State University, KWS SAAT SE & Co, Beck’s Superior Hybrids, BASF, SAATEN-UNION BIOTEC and RAGT are providing matching funds for a total $1,497,097 investment.

The global demand for food, feed and fiber is projected to double by 2050. Currently, it takes ten years, on average, for plant breeders to develop a new crop. Farmers need enhanced varieties sooner to meet future food production demands.

Iowa State University researchers are developing breeding methods that apply to multiple crop species, to accelerate the plant breeding process. These breeding techniques will deliver improved crop varieties – with greater yields – into the hands of farmers sooner. Researchers are developing and validating a rapid cycling cell culture-based selection system, using corn as the model. In lay terms, researchers are accelerating breeding in the lab, rather than in the fields. Field trials only produce one generation of crops a year, whereas this research method can produce multiple generations in a year, which is a more efficient way to create new crop varieties.

Principal investigator Thomas Lubberstedt is the founder of the Doubled Haploid Facility at Iowa State University, providing service to public and private maize breeders for accelerated inbred line development since 2010. “The novel FFAR project takes this technology to the next level, including isolation of genes controlling spontaneous haploid genome doubling,” said Lubberstedt.

“Developing cutting edge plant breeding technology ensures that farmers are able to provide more nutritious crops more efficiently,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Dr. Sally Rockey. “Translating this research from the lab onto farms is key to meeting food production challenges and staying competitive in this next frontier of agricultural innovation.”

FFAR’s Seeding Solutions Grant Program is an open call for bold ideas that address a pressing food and agriculture issues in one of the Foundation’s Challenge Areas. Iowa State University’s research supports FFAR’s  Next Generation Crops Area. FFAR’s work in this area supports the advancement of novel, nutritious, profitable and resilient farm crops.

Beef Checkoff Celebrates Americans’ Love of Grilling with “United We Steak” Campaign

Funded by beef farmers and ranchers, Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner., is launching “United We Steak,” a new summer grilling campaign showcasing 50 steaks and all 50 states. “United We Steak” celebrates not only a shared tradition of grilling delicious steaks, but also what makes each state unique when it comes to this beloved pastime. The idea comes to life at UnitedWeSteak.com with an interactive map of the United States made from 50 hand-cut state-shaped steaks. The interactive map is packed full of grilling spirit and state-specific recipes and fun facts that can help consumers nationwide “beef up” grilling season this summer. 

Underpinning the campaign is a recognition that across all 50 states and a million tastes, there is a universal love of beef sizzling on a summer grill. According to research conducted by Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner., which is managed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, nearly one-third of consumers say that they plan to grill more this summer than they have in the past.

“The great taste of beef has brought families together for generations and is a must-have for the summer grilling season,” said Buck Wehrbein, Federation Division chair at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff. “‘United We Steak’ celebrates not only a universal love of steak and grilling, whether for a special occasion or an everyday meal, but also the beef farmers and ranchers who work hard every day to raise high-quality beef.”

As part of the campaign, the state and U.S.-shaped steaks will be featured in national advertisements, including still images and videos that will be shared on digital and social media platforms. The advertisements will also be shared on video platforms including YouTube and Connected TV in an effort to inspire Americans to grill up their favorite beef meal no matter where they live. Each state is getting in on the fun too with localized advertisements that will reach proud grill masters in their local markets.

The campaign follows the kickoff of summer grilling season, which Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. marked with a new video released Memorial Day Weekend showcasing the dedication of farmers and ranchers to raising safe, sustainable and nutritious beef. It concludes with the simple declaration: “Summer Grilling Season Brought To You By Beef Farmers and Ranchers.”

More beef grilling inspiration and information can be found at UnitedWeSteak.com. and BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.

Announcing Farm Foundation's Young Agri-Food Leaders and Young Farmer Accelerators

Farm Foundation is pleased to announce its new Young Agri-Food Leaders and Young Farmer Accelerator Network cohorts for 2020-2021. Each of these new programs were established to engage and connect outstanding young leaders in agriculture from across the country and arise from Farm Foundation's vision to build a future for farmers, our communities and our world.

The Young Agri-Food Leaders Network is comprised of 10 highly accomplished young leaders in the agri-food and agri-business sector selected to participate in a year-long series of interactive learning and networking experiences, focused on gaining a deeper understanding of the food and agriculture value chain. This program aims to help young professionals build a strong, enduring network of peers in business, farming and government through sponsored attendance at events, virtual conversations, and participation in exclusive learning and networking opportunities.

We welcome:
Andrew Uden, Lincoln, Nebraska: Co-Founder and President, AgVision International

Emily Hennessee, Washington, DC: Policy Coordinator, The Good Food Institute
Emily Zakowski, Sacramento, California: Environmental Scientist, California Department of Food and Agriculture
Erin FitzPatrick, St. Louis, Missouri: Vice President, Rabo Agrifinance
Fabiola Perez, Moline, Illinois: High Value Crop Specialist, John Deere
Michael Zorger, Washington, DC: Senior Associate, The Cohen Group
Nicole Ledoux, Boston, Massachusetts: Co-Founder and CEO, 88 Acres
Stephanie Westhelle, Washington, DC: Development Manager, Sustainability & Partnerships, Fairtrade America
Sylvester Miller, II, Memphis, Tennessee: Sr. Supply Chain Program Manager, Indigo Ag
Tristan Hudak, Sacramento, California: Vice President, Ag BioTech Inc. and Director of New Business Development, Ag Ploutos, Co. Ltd.

We are also pleased to announce that 15 young farmers, from a diversity of operations, have been selected for Farm Foundation's Young Farmer Accelerator program. This program, aimed at helping young farmers grow their knowledge, experience and network, will help to accelerate their careers and contacts through interactive learning and networking experiences, focused on gaining a deeper understanding of a wide variety of agriculture, agribusiness and government issues.

We welcome:
Aaron Clark, Warren County, Indiana: Caretaker, Cloverleaf Farm
Alexis Mena, Brooklyn, New York: Co-Founder, Lead Farmer, Universe City
Brad Stinson, San Jose, California: West Coast QA/QC Field Supervisor, Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Inc.
Erin Galloway, Campbell County, Wyoming: Owner of Our Wyoming Life and Co-Director and Co-Founder of Edible Prairie Project
Erin Hargrove, Henry County, Kentucky: Co-Manager and Farmer, Boxcar Acres
Georgina Sarpong, Providence, Rhode Island: Co-Owner and Farmer, Abundance Farm
Gracie Danner, Muscatine County, Iowa- Co-Owner/Manager, Danner Family Grain
Jess Daily, Fulton County, Indiana: Operations Manager, Mainstay Farming Partnership
Larna Schnitker, Montgomery County, Missouri: Farmer, Schnitker Farms
Luke Gosse, Black Hawk County, Iowa: Chief Operating Officer, Blue Diamond Farming Company
Michael Hill, Lake County, Florida: CEO/Owner, H&A Farms
Stan Usery, Jr., Limestone County, Alabama: Owner, Usery Consulting, Inc.
Tiffany Bailey, Sarasota and Manatee Counties, Florida: President and Owner, Bayside Sod Inc. and Honeyside Farms

In living out our vision to build a future for farmers, our communities and our world, Farm Foundation offers a suite of multi-stakeholder and intergenerational programs to accelerate the next generation of agricultural leaders. Farm Foundation's most established program is our Round Table, an invitation only group of established leaders across the food and agriculture sector. The Young Farmer Accelerator Network and Young-Agri Food Leaders complement our Round Table program and expand our suite of next generation programs, including our Cultivator, Agricultural Scholars and Congressional Fellows programs. Farm Foundation is excited to provide a space for leaders in food and agriculture to connect and accelerate practical solutions for agriculture. To learn more, visit www.farmfoundation.org.

FMC Corporation Collaborates with Cyclica to Improve Research Efficiency Using Artificial Intelligence

FMC Corporation (NYSE: FMC) has entered into a collaboration with Cyclica Inc, a leading biotechnology company specializing in artificial intelligence (AI) and computational biophysics, to accelerate and improve the efficiency of discovering new crop protection chemistry.  This is among the first of several new technology collaborations and approaches that FMC is pursuing to expand its research of novel active ingredients that protect crops from diseases and destructive pests.

"Today we have an award-winning pipeline of more than 25 promising new molecules," said Dr. Kathleen Shelton, vice president and chief technology officer of FMC. "Discovering a new molecule with the right efficacy, mode of action and sustainability profile is a complex, multi-year process requiring hundreds of researchers testing tens of thousands of compounds annually.  Augmenting our traditional research and screening processes with the power of artificial intelligence will help us identify and assess more molecules faster and with greater precision."

FMC will use Ligand Design™ and Ligand Express™, Cyclica's proprietary AI platforms, to optimize the discovery of novel compounds at a pace that far exceeds typical chemistry discovery research programs. Powered by MatchMaker™, a deep learning proteome screening technology, and POEM™, a machine learning technology for predicting molecular properties, Ligand Design™ and Ligand Express™ will assess millions of chemical structures, providing FMC researchers with a greater volume of high-quality molecule predictions that are specific to the pesticidal target of interest.  A similar AI-augmented approach to discovery research has been used successfully for years in industries that require extensive data analysis, significant investments and lengthy development timelines, such as pharmaceuticals and healthcare.

"We are excited to partner with FMC scientists in their quest to innovate novel molecules that control pests and diseases in agriculture," says Naheed Kurji, cofounder, president and CEO of Cyclica. "Ligand Design™ and Ligand Express™ have been instrumental in the design and screening of new medicines, and we look forward to applying those learnings in support of FMC's global discovery research programs."

FMC's R&D team of more than 800 scientists and associates are guiding one of the most robust discovery and development pipelines in the agricultural industry at 22 innovation centers and field stations around the world. The company's global R&D is headquartered at the FMC Stine Research Center in Newark, Delaware, and its biologicals research is conducted at the FMC European Innovation Center in Hørsholm, Denmark.

Terms of the collaboration with Cyclica are not disclosed.

Syngenta puts emerging technology into the hands of growers

Growers who work with Phytech and Sound Agriculture — two companies in the Syngenta Ventures portfolio — are increasing potential yields while preserving valuable natural resources. Most notably, technologies coming from these companies are helping growers make yield advances possible on marginal land.

Phytech enables better, smarter irrigation
Phytech, an Israel-based company, offers a high-tech solution for irrigation planning. It uses a dendrometer to measure the contraction and expansion of the plant’s trunk, and an app that collects that data and layers it with information about the climate to provide growers with color-coded irrigation recommendations.

Mark Sherfy, the water resource manager for D & J Farm Management in Bakersfield, California, credits the technology with increasing yields and revolutionizing the way his farm irrigates.

“Back in the day, everyone would do furrow irrigation — flooding a crop row about once a week,” he said. “The problem is you waste water because you get standing water that the trees can’t use, and the water evaporates.”

Instead of furrow irrigation, Phytech recommended daily watering — “and it told us exactly how much our plants needed,” said Sherfy. This year, he’s planning a trial run with the business’s table grapes — “not to just save water, but to fully utilize 100% of the water I put out,” he said.

Sound Agriculture unlocks yield potential
Sound Agriculture also is working to help maximize profitability in yield-limited environments. With its new Source™ product, launched last December for use during the 2020 growing season, Sound Agriculture is helping growers increase yields by tapping into the nutrients already present in their soil.

Steve Pitstick, who grows corn and soybeans near Maple Park, Illinois, can speak to the product’s impact. In 2019, he used Source, an easy-to-use foliar spray, for the first time. The results were immediate and striking: an average 17.1-bushel-per-acre increase in yield — across multiple soil types. The spike has encouraged him to make Source a key part of his plans moving forward.

“Based on the results of that small-scale testing, I’m planning to purchase Source for use next year and increase my Source testing in different fields,” he said.

Eric Davidson, Ph.D., CEO of Sound Agriculture, is confident that Source can have a dramatic impact on yield potential. “Source mimics plant-to-microbe signals, unlocking the nitrogen and phosphorus that already exist in the field,” he said. “On average, we see around a 9-bushel-per-acre yield increase for corn, with some soil types seeing 20- to 30-bushel increases over untreated areas.”

Syngenta Ventures’ investments in both companies are representative of the team’s mission to support solutions that help growers farm sustainably. That mission ties into the Syngenta Good Growth Plan — a plan that lays out the commitments the company is making to secure the future of agriculture and our planet’s ecosystems. For more information about Syngenta Ventures, one of the world’s first venture capital teams dedicated to agriculture, visit https://www.syngentaventures.com. Join the conversation online – connect with Syngenta at Syngenta-us.com/social.

Groups Petition U.S. Department of Agriculture to Ban Mass Burial, On-Site Incineration of Factory-Farmed Animals During Pandemic

Press Release

Conservation, environmental-justice and public-health groups filed a legal petition today calling for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ban dangerous on-site incineration and unlined burial of millions of industrially raised farm animals killed during the COVID-19 emergency.

The legal action seeks to compel the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to protect communities and the environment from dangerous pollution resulting from under-regulated and poorly monitored animal disposal during the pandemic. The petition was prompted by the meat industry’s rush to kill millions of animals that cannot be processed into food following slaughterhouse closures and slowdowns due to the spread of coronavirus.

The petition was filed by Earthjustice, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and the Center for Biological Diversity on behalf of 14 organizations. Petitioners also urge the USDA to create a publicly accessible, online database that tracks federal assistance for mass carcass disposal and provides people living near carcass-disposal locations with the information they need to protect themselves from pollution.

“It’s horrific that when slaughterhouses temporarily cut production, industrial farming operations simply kill and discard millions of pigs and chickens,” said Hannah Connor, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “There are real risks to people here, as well as the environment, from the disposal of these animals. Burying or burning animals on this scale pollutes our air and threatens rural water supplies.”

The USDA has acknowledged that burial in unlined pits and on-site incineration pose significant threats to air and water quality and to the safety of surrounding communities. Mass burial can contaminate the surrounding environment with pollutants, including nitrates, ammonia and chloride, as well as disease-causing agents and pharmaceuticals fed to the animals just before death. Burning animal carcasses releases air pollution and potentially contaminated ash.

“The way industrial operations are discarding millions of dead animals in the midst of this health crisis shocks the conscience,” said Valerie Baron, a senior attorney at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “These disposal methods are among the most dangerous for human health and severely threaten drinking water safety — yet there’s zero transparency when it comes to where these mass burials or incinerations happen. With hurricane, flood and fire seasons exacerbating the dangers of these unfettered operations, it’s even more urgent for the USDA to step up and take action to protect people, instead of Big Ag.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared a public-health emergency in March 2020, slaughterhouses have faced chronic labor shortages and other supply-chain disruptions, leading to reduced slaughter capacity. The meat industry has responded to this reduced capacity by killing millions of industrially raised farm animals that are ready for slaughter but cannot be economically processed into food.

An estimated 10 million hens have already been killed, and more than 10 million pigs could be killed by September. Similar mass “depopulation” approaches are being utilized in other animal-production sectors.

“The USDA is already assisting with the disposal of animal carcasses during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Alexis Andiman, an attorney with Earthjustice. “We’re sympathetic to livestock producers, but the big corporations that control this industry can afford to do better. It’s up to the USDA to make sure that taxpayer dollars protect communities and the environment instead of putting vulnerable people at greater risk.”

Banning on-site incineration is especially vital given growing evidence that particulate air pollution worsens COVID-19 outbreaks and contributes to increased COVID-19 deaths. On-site incineration of pig carcasses generates approximately three pounds of particulate air pollution per animal, compounding the potential health risks faced especially by communities of color, which are disproportionately harmed by both air pollution and COVID-19.

Other groups joining the petition include: Animal Legal Defense Fund, Association of Irritated Residents, Cape Fear River Water, Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, Coastal Carolina Riverwatch, Environmental Working Group, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, MountainTrue, Sound Rivers and Waterkeeper Alliance.

A separate petition, filed earlier this month, requests that the Food and Drug Administration suspend uses of the dangerous pharmaceutical ractopamine in farm animals during the pandemic.