Thursday, July 30, 2020

Thursday July 30 Ag News

Nebraska Beef Council Board Meeting

The Nebraska Beef Council Board of Directors will meet at the NBC office in Kearney located at 1319 Central Ave. on Tuesday,  August 11th, 2020 beginning at 8:00 a.m.CDT. and Wednesday, August 12th, 2020 at 7:30 a.m. CDT. The NBC Board of Directors will listen to presentation from outside contractors for the fiscal year 2020-2021 on Tuesday. Funding decisions will be conducted on Wednesday. For more information, please contact Pam Esslinger at 


The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension will host the 2020 Calf Health Management on Arrival Webinar Series. The webinars will take place weekly beginning on Aug. 18.

The Calf Health Management on Arrival Webinar Series is designed to highlight management strategies relative to biocontainment, stress mitigation, nutrition, and treatment options that will set calves up for success. Each session will feature a presentation from an industry expert and a segment featuring a veterinarian or producer perspective.

Each webinar will begin at 12:30 p.m. Central time. Dates are Aug. 18, Aug. 25, Sept. 1 and Sept. 8.  Topics and speakers are as follows:

August 18, Biocontainment
  - Systems approach to maintaining health in high-risk calves, Dr. John Groves, DVM, Livestock Veterinary Service, Eldon, Mo.
  - Penning order and morbidity outcomes, veterinarian/producer perspective

August 25, Stress mitigation
  - Arrival health programs for high-risk calves, Dr. Dan Thomson, animal science department head, Iowa State University
  - Handling procedures that reduce arrival stress and promote health, veterinarian/producer perspective

September 1, Nutrition
  - Role of nutrition in health maintenance of calves, Dr. Clint Krehbiel, animal science department head, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  - Feeding programs on arrival, veterinarian/producer perspective

September 8, Treatment options
  - Limitations of remote drug delivery devices (dart guns) for cattle health management, Dr. Brian Vander Ley, DVM, Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center, Clay Center, Neb.
  - Beef quality assurance, veterinarian/producer perspective

“Management of nutrition and health for calves on arrival is one of the most important decisions for ensuring positive outcomes for beef production,” said Clint Krehbiel, UNL animal science department head. “Participants will learn from scientists who are passionate about their success and the health and well-being of beef cattle.”

Those who are interested in registering for one or more webinar sessions may do so online at There is no cost to participate in this webinar series. 

Ecosystem Services Market Consortium Announces Inaugural Producer Circle Members

The Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) is pleased to announce 28 farmers and ranchers from across the United States have been selected as the inaugural cohort of Producer Circle members. The Producer Circle is vitally important to provide farmer and rancher input while pilot testing ESMC’s innovative protocols and the technical assistance, verification, and certification requirements over the next two years in preparation for full market launch in 2022.

The newly appointed Producer Circle members are: Andrew Moore from Georgia, Brandon Hunnicutt from Nebraska, Charles Atkinson from Kansas, Cornelius Key from Georgia, Darren Hoyme from North Dakota, Dave Rylander from Illinois, Debbie Lyons-Blythe from Kansas, Ed Kuykendall from California, Gary Van Horn from Kansas, Jared Gregg from Illinois, Jay Tanner from Utah, Jeff Rice from Kentucky, Joseph Fitzsimons from Texas, Kevin Kester from California, Kip Kummerle from Ohio, Kristin Duncanson from Minnesota, Kyle Brase from Illinois, Lee Scheufler from Kansas, Lukas Fricke from Nebraska, Maggie Hanna from Colorado, Mark Isbell from Arkansas, Neal Wilkins from Texas, Patrick O’Toole from Wyoming, Robin Boies from Nevada, Tim Boring from Michigan, and Trent Hendricks from Missouri.

“On behalf of the (ESMC) Board of Directors, we are excited to welcome the inaugural Producer Circle members to the ESMC team,” stated Gary Price. “These advisors will be instrumental to the success of the ESMC program now and in the future.” Price is a rancher from Blooming Grove, Texas, and Co-chair of the inaugural ESMC Producer Circle, together with Tim Palmer, a farmer from Truro, Iowa. “Bringing farmers and ranchers to the table is a key next step,” continued Price. “We have made progress in the past few years, but now the true test is piloting the protocols on operations and further refining them to work across the country. We look forward to the input and feedback from Producer Circle members as the ESMC program continues to grow and evolve through the development process.”

Price and Palmer have been involved in ESMC since 2017, and currently serve on ESMC’s Board of Directors. Their dedicated support and guidance of ESMC since its inception will help to provide continuity of leadership on the Producer Circle and enable strong farmer and rancher voices to guide current and future ESMC developments.

ESMC received support from the Walton Family Foundation (WFF) to launch the Producer Circle, ensuring that the voices of farmers and ranchers across the country are heard during the ESMC program buildout. ESMC’s first operating principle is to be producer-centric, meaning a market-based approach must work first and foremost for farmers and ranchers to achieve desired ecosystem service impacts. The Producer Circle will serve as an in-house focus group and advisory committee on the all aspects of program delivery, including development of outreach materials, pilot, and protocol development and program operations. 

Nebraska Cattlemen Influences National Policy

A small delegation of Nebraska Cattlemen made a big influence on national policy decisions in Denver this week during the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's (NCBA) Summer Business Meeting. The week began with policy developed and submitted by Nebraska Cattlemen's members in the Animal Health and Wellbeing Committee. This policy directs NCBA to work with stakeholders to develop and disseminate materials needed to assist cattlemen to prepare for foreign animal disease challenges in the United States. Nebraska Cattlemen also backed policy to support US CattleTrace programs. US CattleTrace is an industry-driven entity which is a 501c3 that is developing disease traceability.  NC policy has long supported traceability for disease control purposes and insisted that the data should be held by a non-government entity that is producer-driven.
NC members were among those leading conversations during more than six hours of debate to identify a policy that would address industry-wide concerns regarding diminishing levels of price discovery in negotiated fed cattle markets.  Nebraska Cattlemen was among more than 20 NCBA state affiliates that developed and presented policy to address the need to increase negotiated trade volumes to regionally specific robust price discovery levels. After intense debate, a compromise was developed to have NCBA pursue legislative or regulatory solutions to price discovery issues if current voluntary efforts to improve negotiated fed cattle trade volumes are not successful in achieving regionally robust price discovery levels. Triggers to identify when legislative or regulatory efforts are needed, and will be developed by the NCBA Live Cattle Marketing working group by October 1st, 2020. The policy passed by the Live Cattle Marketing Committee and approved by a vote of the NCBA Board of Directors can be viewed here. 
"This compromise creates a process to allow the industry to try to achieve robust price discovery levels on a voluntary basis, but provides a framework to seek legislative or regulatory solutions to achieve this goal if voluntary efforts fail." Ken Herz - President, Nebraska Cattlemen
NC policy on accessible broadband for rural areas was adopted in NCBA's Ag and Food Policy Committee.  The divide between rural and urban access to broadband was highlighted by the COVID 19 crisis with more distance learning, tele-med services and no-contact government interaction.  It is important that investment be made in the rural broadband infrastructure.
Originally submitted by NC, stepped-up basis interim tax policy brought forth and adopted earlier this year at the NCBA convention was adopted as official policy by members in the Tax and Credit Committee. NCBA supports stepped-up basis for assets in any future tax relief legislation.
NC past president Mike Drinnin was elected to serve on the NCBA nominating committee. The
NCBA nominating committee is responsible for interviewing and selecting leadership candidates to be considered by the NCBA Board of Directors.

Strong Turnout of Cattle Producers Sets Important Policies for the Future

A capacity crowd of cattle producers worked for more than six hours today to identify a policy that would help resolve concerns about live cattle marketing issues and lead the industry to more robust price discovery. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Live Cattle Marketing Committee considered several proposals, each aimed at encouraging greater volumes of cash cattle trade. After intense debate, the committee and the NCBA Board of Directors unanimously passed a policy that supports voluntary efforts to improve cash fed cattle trade during the next 90 days with the potential for mandates in the future if robust regional cash trade numbers are not reached by the industry.

“The policy decisions we made this week truly show the grassroots policy process at work. We had tremendous turnout for this year’s summer meeting, clearly demonstrating that cattle producers needed the opportunity to meet in person to hammer out solutions to these important issues,” said NCBA President Marty Smith. “Despite the issues going on in the world today, we had more than 600 people turn out, the vast majority in person, to find solutions for issues facing our industry.”

Smith noted that the work of the Live Cattle Marketing committee caps months of working group efforts to find industry- and market-driven solutions to increase price discovery without government mandates.

“The policy we passed today is the result of every state cattlemen’s association coming together to work through their differences and finding solutions that meet the needs of their members, all of whom agree that our industry needs more robust price discovery. This policy provides all players in the industry the opportunity to achieve that goal without seeking government mandates,” said Smith. “Everyone who took the time to participate in this process over the past several months and throughout this week’s meetings is to be commended.” 

The policy passed by the Live Cattle Marketing Committee and approved by a vote of the NCBA Board of Directors can be viewed here.

The Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting also included a full slate of both policy and checkoff committee meetings. This week’s checkoff meetings help set the plan of work for fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, as well as providing an opportunity for cattlemen and cattlewomen to review current contractor campaigns, including a very successful launch of the popular United We Steak campaign.

“The past several months have been challenging for everyone, but they’ve been particularly difficult for America’s cattle farmers and ranchers,” said Smith. “This week’s meetings provided a crucial opportunity for us to come together—safely and with plenty of social distancing—to resolve the issues of the past several months. However, it has also provided an opportunity for a reset and chance to refocus on the priorities that haven’t gone away as we battled through this crisis. We’re thankful we had the opportunity to do just that during this week’s meetings.”

U.S. Agriculture Praises Senate Letter Urging Administration to Make Greater Strides to Protect Common Food and Wine Terms

A diverse range of farm and agricultural industries is praising a bipartisan Senate letter sent today to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue urging stronger international safeguards to protect U.S. exporters using common food and wine terms. Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) led this effort that resulted in support from a total of 61 Senators.

The letter requests that the U.S. government enhance their common food name protections as a core policy objective in all trade-related discussions. This is a direct challenge to the European Union (EU)’s misuse of protections meant for valid geographical indications (GIs) to instead block American exports of common or generic food and wine terms, such as parmesan, feta, bologna or chateau. These unjustified trade barriers harm American farmers, limit choices for consumers and have put manufacturing jobs across an essential sector at risk.

Signers of the letter included several senators holding leadership positions on committees with jurisdiction over this issue, notably the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance and the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture. In addition, the letter also includes the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property.

Farm and agricultural industries commending the letter include:
    Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN)
    U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC)
    American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF)
    North America Meat Institute (NAMI)
    National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA)
    National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF)
    Wine Institute (WI)

“The United States has been fighting the EU’s unfair GI trade policies with one hand tied behind its back while the EU has been battling with its full force. This unbalanced approach has helped the EU in its efforts to block U.S. exports of products using common food and wine terms, causing serious harm to America’s farmers, ranchers, food manufacturers and exporters. We applaud Senators Thune, Stabenow Tillis and Baldwin for leading this effort to meet the EU’s efforts to block American exports with an equal force to promote fair trade and ensure the free flow of products using all tools available to the U.S. government,” said Jaime Castaneda, Executive Director of CCFN.

“We encourage USTR and USDA to immediately establish the explicit protection of common food names as a primary policy objective in all trade discussions. The overwhelming bipartisan support demonstrated by the U.S. Senate for this goal underscores the importance of breaking down these GI-related barriers and achieving greater export safeguards for U.S. cheeses and other common name products. By putting protections for common food and wine terms first, we will ensure that American-made products do not come in last,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC.

“Protection for the use of common food names will greatly assist in the export of high-quality American agricultural products around the world. We applaud the U.S. government for their efforts to remove trade barriers that block our exports,” said Zippy Duvall, President of AFBF.

“The European Union has for too long unjustifiably and erroneously attempted to restrict trade in common food name products, including meat exports from the U.S. The policy advocated in the bipartisan letter sent today to USDA and USTR will advance critical safeguards for common food name products in international trade and will enable America’s meat and poultry packers and processors, agricultural producers and food manufacturers to compete on a level playing field with their counterparts in the EU. We thank Sens. Thune, Stabenow, Tillis and Baldwin for their leadership, and we stand ready to work with the Administration to defend against anti-competitive and protectionist policies pursued by trading partners that serve only to impede U.S. meat and poultry exports,” said Julie Anna Potts, CEO of NAMI.

“As tireless advocates for U.S. food and agriculture exports, NASDA members understand the importance of protecting the use of common food names. Securing clear assurances from trading partners that preserve the value of U.S. market access must be an integral part of U.S. trade policy. NASDA looks forward to supporting our federal partners as they continue to seek trade deals that increase sales of U.S. products around the globe,” said Dr. Barb Glenn, CEO of NASDA.

“Europe has demonstrated it will not yield in its efforts to erect trade barriers and limit fair competition from high-quality American-made food and wine products, including U.S. cheeses. A comprehensive long-term U.S. trade strategy is required to protect American farmers and food producers. The letter sent today by Senators Thune, Stabenow, Tillis and Baldwin is a critical step forward for advancing freer trade,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. 

“We have watched time and again as the EU has gone well beyond protecting legitimate GIs to erect trade barriers that benefit their own producers at our expense. The recent EU-China agreement on GIs is a perfect example of how the EU abuses GIs for their own gain. We are grateful to these Senators for saying enough is enough, the U.S. must do more to ensure a level playing field for common food names, grape varietal names and traditional terms,” said Bobby Koch, President and CEO of Wine Institute.

USDA Announces Award for New Milk Incentive Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the award of nearly $1 million for an innovative pilot program designed to encourage Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to purchase and consume milk as part of a healthy, balanced diet. This pilot project builds on the success of previous incentive programs, which have shown positive impacts on the healthfulness of a persons’ diet. Through a cooperative agreement with the Baylor University Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, SNAP participants shopping at select grocery stores in Texas will receive incentives for purchasing qualifying milk. 

“Making nutritious foods more accessible is a USDA priority, and we are always looking for ways to leverage innovative strategies to help achieve that goal,” said Pam Miller, Administrator of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). “Today’s grant award will test the use of incentives in encouraging SNAP households to purchase and consume more milk – a win-win for both participants’ diets and America’s dairy farmers.”

The Healthy Fluid Milk Incentive (HFMI) pilot was established by the 2018 Farm Bill to encourage consumption of milk, which is part of a well-rounded, nutritious diet as described in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The program is expected to be fully operational by May 2021, and incentives will be tested for one year. The pilot is part of Food and Nutrition Service’s commitment to employing innovative techniques to help make nutritious foods more accessible for low-income Americans.

ADM Reports Second Quarter Earnings of $0.84 per Share, $0.85 per Share on an Adjusted Basis

• Net earnings of $469 million
• Strong first half; execution of strategic plan continued delivering results
• Safely served customers, protected employees while supporting global food supply chain with minimal disruptions despite challenging environment

ADM (NYSE: ADM) today reported financial results for the quarter ended June 30, 2020.

“This was another strong quarter for ADM. I am proud of our team’s excellent work, as their execution of our strategy continued to deliver results,” said Chairman and CEO Juan Luciano. “Through good and challenging times alike, we have kept a strong and steady focus on transforming and improving our company. Thanks to that work, and thanks to the ADM colleagues who have gone above and beyond to support our customers and the global food supply chain, we are delivering on our purpose by providing high quality nutrition around the world.

“We’re also living up to our ideals,” Luciano continued. “From our ambitious new sustainability goals, to the continued expansion of products and services to meet evolving consumer needs, to the critical efforts we are all making to protect our employees and support our communities during challenging times, our team is making a positive impact.

“As we advance our strategy, we are increasingly seeing growing benefits flow to our bottom line. Our team is exceeding the targets we’ve set for those factors under our control, and as we look at the second half of the year, we’ll continue to advance our key focus areas: optimizing business performance, accelerating Readiness – which has been critical to our resilience and agility this year – and harvesting the benefits of strategic growth investments, especially in our Nutrition segment. We are in a strong position, with great momentum, and we are confident in our ability to continue to deliver strong earnings and returns in 2020 and beyond.”

AGCO Reports Second Quarter Results

AGCO, Your Agriculture Company, a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment and solutions, reported its results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2020. Net sales for the second quarter were approximately $2.0 billion, a decrease of approximately 17.2% compared to the second quarter of 2019. Reported net income was $0.93 per share for the second quarter of 2020 and adjusted net income, excluding a non-cash impairment charge and restructuring expenses, was $1.11 per share. These results compare to reported and adjusted net income of $1.82 per share for the second quarter of 2019. Excluding unfavorable currency translation impacts of approximately 3.9%, net sales in the second quarter of 2020 decreased approximately 13.2% compared to the second quarter of 2019.

Net sales for the first six months of 2020 were approximately $3.9 billion, a decrease of approximately 10.9% compared to the same period in 2019. Excluding unfavorable currency translation impacts of approximately 3.8%, net sales for the first six months of 2020 decreased approximately 7.2% compared to the same period in 2019. For the first six months of 2020, reported net income was $1.78 per share, and adjusted net income, excluding a non-cash impairment charge and restructuring expenses was $1.97 per share. These results compare to reported net income of $2.66 per share, and adjusted net income, excluding restructuring expenses, of $2.68 per share for the first six months of 2019.

Broad soybean trait portfolio puts weed control in growers' hands

Like the promise that every year brings another growing season, there's the reality that every season brings another set of challenges to weed control. That's why the 2021 NK® soybean portfolio from Syngenta features the industry's broadest choice of herbicide-tolerant traits.

NK varieties available for 2021 include all three of the most in-demand traits: Enlist E3® soybeans, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans and LibertyLink® GT27™ soybeans. As effective herbicide options become more limited, this expansive trait portfolio empowers growers to create the best weed management programs for their specific situations and maximize profit potential.

"There's enough in agriculture that's out of growers' hands. Soybean trait choice shouldn't be," said Eric Miller, NK soybeans product manager. "The broad selection of herbicide-tolerant traits found in NK soybeans gives growers control over their weed management programs."

A recent survey conducted by NK further demonstrates the need for soybean trait choice. When asked about the most important factors in soybean trait decisions, weed control effectiveness on resistant weeds and flexibility of herbicide and chemical options were consistently the top two factors cited by growers.

Each trait offers its own unique benefits:
    Featuring one of the newest traits on the market, Enlist E3 varieties offer tolerance to three modes of action: 2,4-D choline, glyphosate and glufosinate.
    Roundup Ready 2 Xtend varieties are known for their consistent performance and tolerance to dicamba and glyphosate.
    LibertyLink GT27 varieties provide strong yield and agronomics for growers looking to manage weeds with glufosinate and glyphosate.

Access to these traits is made possible by a state-of-the-art trait conversion capability that enables Syngenta to bring the latest, most desirable trait packages to market with the newest genetics. Combine these trait offerings with more than 50 years of breeding experience, and NK is able to offer growers varieties that protect soybean yield potential in even the toughest environments.

Innovation continues: As growers start to consider their corn and soybean seed selections for next season, Syngenta is releasing 21 new soybean varieties for 2021.

"Because every field is different, NK is committed to research and development that helps ensure success no matter the location," Miller said. "By minimizing risk with NK soybeans, growers can maximize their return on investment potential."

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Wednesday July 29 Ag News

Nebraska Legislature failed to protect essential Nebraskans

Today, a motion filed by Nebraska State Senator Tony Vargas to suspend the rules to permit the introduction of a new bill was debated by the Legislature. The proposed bill for introduction would have required meat and poultry processing facilities to implement key COVID-19 protections for essential Nebraskans working in those plants. Despite months of pleas from workers, their families, and their communities for the Legislature to act, Senator Vargas’ motion failed by only two votes.

Nebraska Appleseed’s Immigrants & Communities Program Director, Darcy Tromanhauser, issued the following statement:

“Thank you to Senator Tony Vargas and the 27 Nebraska state senators who supported the opportunity to consider legislation that would provide greater protection to the more than 20,000 essential Nebraskans who work in meat and poultry processing facilities. The health and safety of workers and family members across our state continues to be in jeopardy due to a lack of COVID-19 protections in meat and poultry plants.

It is stunning that there were not enough Senators willing to vote for an opportunity to hear about what is happening to Nebraskans working in this industry, 80% of whom are immigrants, refugees, and people of color. Nearly 5,000 meatpacking workers have tested positive since the pandemic began. As of Tuesday, at least 21 workers have died and hundreds have been hospitalized. Yet those numbers were not compelling enough to take action. We will continue to fight alongside people working in meat and poultry processing until adequate protections are in place.”

Upcoming webinars from UNL Ag Econ Dept - Farm & Ranch Management Team

AUGUST 6 - Drought: Financial Implications of Possible Decisions
Drought is a periodic feature of the Great Plains impacting range and crop production. Drought can have severe financial impacts on ranches which try to adapt to the problem. Research and financial modeling, as well as tools projecting financial outcomes can help with the decisions that ranchers make while adjusting to drought.

AUGUST 13 - Marketing Corn and Soybeans After the August WASDE Report
The monthly USDA World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) Report summarizes current USDA information for several major commodities into a supply and demand balance sheet. August marks the first report of the year to show crop production data collected from farm operations and field observations. We will take an in-depth look and discuss strategies for grain marketing for the remainder of 2020.

NOTE: The Ag Policy Update webinar with Sen. Deb Fischer, scheduled for Aug. 3, has been canceled due to scheduling conflicts amid continuing legislative work in the Senate at this time. We hope to reschedule Sen. Fisher for the fall.

Register for upcoming webinars and watch past sessions at


The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Agricultural Economics will continue its live webinar series, “Land Management Quarterly,” on Aug. 17 at noon.

Offered since 2019, the quarterly webinars address common management problems for Nebraska landowners, agricultural operators and related stakeholders interested in the latest insight on trends in real estate, managing agricultural land and solutions for addressing challenges in the upcoming growing season.

The August webinar will cover recent findings from the 2020 Nebraska Farm Real Estate Report on cash rental rates, land values and accounting for disaster in lease arrangements. The presentation will also include a special segment on terminating verbal lease arrangements, communicating crop progress on leased land and considerations for fall harvest. The session will conclude with an “Ask the Experts” session, offering participants the chance to get live answers to their land or lease questions.

The webinars are led by Jim Jansen and Allan Vyhnalek, who are both in the Department of Agricultural Economics. Jansen focuses on agricultural finance and land economics and directs the annual Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Survey and Report. Vyhnalek is a farm succession and farmland management extension educator.

“Uncertainty in crop and livestock prices remains high in 2020 due to pandemic events surrounding COVID-19,” Jansen said. “This webinar will place a special emphasis on equitable terms for rented ground by communicating price and production challenges, critical verbal lease deadlines, and considerations for the approaching fall.”

Participants are encouraged to sign up to receive reminders each quarter and submit questions at Anyone can join the webinar from this page when it goes live at noon on Aug. 17.

Each webinar is free and will be recorded. Those can be viewed the day after each session, along with recordings from the entire series.

2020 Land Management Quarterly webinar dates are:
    Aug. 17, noon
    Nov. 16, 6:30 p.m.


For the fourth-consecutive year, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has ranked among the top 50 universities in the world for agriculture and forestry.

The 2020 QS World University Rankings, released in June, ranked Nebraska 46th among universities worldwide and 18th among institutions in the United States. The rankings consider academic peer review, student-faculty ratio and reputation of the employers of graduates, among other factors.

“We are designing the future of agriculture here at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln,” said Mike Boehm, vice chancellor for the university's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Our researchers are uncovering new ways to feed a rapidly growing world, and furthermore, they’re doing so in an environmentally sustainable way that provides a good quality of life for producers. We’re making great strides toward food security, sustainability and other complex agricultural issues, and our appearance on this prestigious list is a reflection of those strides.”

In the past year, Nebraska researchers have made progress toward development of crops that are tolerant of heat, extreme cold and drought. They are in the midst of research to aid in the development of hybrid wheat varieties, as well as in the development of vaccines and other protections against two devastating swine diseases. The interdisciplinary Nebraska Integrated Beef Systems Initiative is bringing together beef geneticists, ruminant nutritionists, biological systems engineers, grassland ecologists and others to improve the efficiency and sustainability of the cattle industry.

“The innovation of our research faculty is nothing short of astonishing,” Boehm said.

That spirit of innovation extends beyond Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources researchers. Nebraska Extension professionals, who have long worked with Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers to address issues with crops and livestock, have increasingly incorporated research into their work with producers. The popular On-Farm Research Network allows farmers to conduct research on their own land. Producers who participate in the network are able to access cutting-edge technology and emerging practices with help from university professionals, while researchers and extension educators are able to observe how new technologies and practices work on real working farms. The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources encourages students to tackle challenges related to agriculture and natural resources. The Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program, for example, helps students build businesses while they’re still in college. The college’s Change-Maker Scholarship Competition, launched this past spring, offers one-year full-tuition scholarships to students who propose a plan to address worldwide challenges related to food security, sustainability and water use. Eight incoming CASNR students and two returning students won scholarships for the 2020-21 academic year.

“We want innovators, change-makers and future leaders to get their start right here in Nebraska,” said Tiffany Heng-Moss, dean of agricultural sciences and natural resources.

The university has also forged strong partnerships with several other leading agricultural institutions on the list, including Wageningen University and Research, Northwest A&F University, Huazhong Agricultural University and the University of Sao Paulo, which in 2020 ranked 1, 4, 6 and 23, respectively.

The QS World University Rankings, released annually, are prepared by Quacquarelli Symonds, a leading global higher education company.

DOJ Files Amicus Brief in Dairy Farmers of America Lawsuit

Ben Gotschall, Organization for Competative Markets (OCM)

On July 27th, 2020, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit against Dairy Farmers of America, the United States’ largest dairy cooperative. The lawsuit, filed in Vermont U.S. District Court, alleges that DFA and other cooperatives agreed not to compete for each other’s farmer-members, conspired to share payment information in order to discourage competition and depress prices, and maintained those low prices market-wide by entering into supply agreements with Dean Foods and other dairy processors.

In its Statement of Interest for the brief, the DOJ makes three main arguments:
-    The allegations against DFA in the case are not sheilded by the Capper-Volstead Act from antitrust laws.  In other words, DFA cannot hide behind its technical status as a cooperative.  If there is evidence that DFA conspired with nonexempt parties, (non-cooperatives) to act “anti-competitively against other farmers,” then “claims at issue in this case fall outside the heartland of Capper Volstead protection.”  The DOJ states, “To the extent . . . that DFA, even when acting as a milk marketing cooperative, made agreements with non-cooperatives that would violate section 1 of the Sherman Act,” that “DFA had monopsony power and used it,” and that “it would be inconsistent with the (Capper-Volstead) Act to allow a monopsony to use (Capper-Volstead) as a shield.”
-    The Capper-Volstead Act does not insulate exclusionary acts from the antitrust laws prohibiting monopsonization.  Basically, this section argues that the definition of “predatory practices” should be applied broadly as violations of section 2 of the Sherman Act, and are “therefore outside the protection of the Capper Volstead Act.”
-    The Defendants (DFA) bear the burden of proof that they are protected by the Capper-Volstead Act. Since it is DFA’s claim that they are protected as a cooperative by Capper-Volstead, they must show proof of such claims.  This argument is extremely significant, because it shifts the burden of proof away from the farmers. OCM has long argued that requiring farmers to show proof of harm is an unreasonable burden, and this argument from DOJ follows a similar line of reasoning.

The Statement of Intent provided by DOJ is perhaps one of the most relevant interpretations of the Capper-Volstead Act’s intent and purpose that OCM has seen. The DOJ arguments clearly demonstrate that farmer and producer protection was one of the main reasons for passage of the Clayton and Sherman Acts.

Restoring the intent of the Clayton Act and implementing producer protection standards in antitrust enforcement were the exact arguments OCM made in our comments to the DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission on their proposed guidelines for vertical mergers in February.  OCM’s argument in favor of shifting the burden of proof of competitive harm away from producers was a central point in our comments to the USDA’s proposed rules on the Packers and Stockyards Act in March.

The DOJ doesn’t cite OCM in its Statement of Intent, and we do not presume to take credit for influencing those arguments, but we are pleased to see a government agency with antitrust enforcement authority taking a stand for the rights of farmers and ranchers.  The Sherman and Clayton Acts have been on the books for over a hundred years, and the DFA suit is an important opportunity for them to be interpreted correctly, as they were intended: to curb corporate abuses and end anti-competitive behaviors, even if they are committed by cooperatives such as DFA.

IFBF Ag-Mazing Challenge provides Iowa State Fair fun from home 

Fairgoers recognize Farm Bureau Park at the Iowa State Fair as an interactive and engaging spot for families with games, giveaways and an annual celebration of Iowa agriculture, and although we can’t gather this year at Farm Bureau Park, missing out on the State Fair doesn’t have to mean missing out on all the fun.  Iowa Farm Bureau has launched the Ag-Mazing Challenge scavenger hunt game to learn about the many ways agriculture touches our daily lives, with giveaways totaling over $10,000 in prizes.

The Ag-Mazing Challenge is a fun, interactive game that’s easy to play.  Participants complete various missions released each week of the contest to score points while exploring and learning more about agriculture.  Those earning 10,000 points will be entered in a drawing to win one of twenty $500 Visa gift cards.  Plus, the first 250 players to reach 10,000 points will win an exclusive 2020 “Missing Corndog” t-shirt.

“We’re all missing the fair this year and wanted to find a way to help Iowans still celebrate the spirit of the State Fair and its agricultural backdrop. The Ag-Mazing Challenge is a great way for Iowans to compete with each other and have some fun with Iowa State Fair themes while learning about agriculture’s role in our daily lives,” said Evelyn George, Iowa Farm Bureau marketing coordinator.

To get started, download the GooseChase app to your phone or tablet.  Open the app and search for the “Ag-Mazing Challenge" game. Create your own player profile and start earning points and working toward prizes.

While playing, participants can see how they’re doing compared to the other competitors by following the ‘Ranking’ button in the app.  You can view your completed missions as well as some of the entries by other participants through the contest completion date of Aug. 23, 2020.

Celebrating the members who comprise the Iowa Farm Bureau is a proud tradition at the Iowa State Fair and that will continue this year.  As a ‘thank you,’ Farm Bureau members are eligible for an exclusive drawing for a chance to win a Yeti cooler and a $200 meat package.  One prize package will be awarded to a winner in each of Iowa Farm Bureau’s 17 regions, with one entry permitted per membership.  Members will be notified and announced on our website by Sept. 1, 2020.  To register for the member prize drawing, click here...

Commercially Available Cell Line Rapidly Detects ASF

Scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have identified a new way to detect the presence of live African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) that minimizes the need for samples from live animals and provides easier access to veterinary labs that need to diagnose the virus.

"We have identified a cell-line that can be used to isolate and detect the presence of the live virus," said ARS Scientist Dr. Douglas Gladue. "This is a critical breakthrough and a tremendous step for African Swine Fever Virus diagnostics."

There are currently no available vaccines to prevent ASFV, and outbreak control has often relied on quarantining and removing infected or exposed animals. Until now, effectively detecting live ASFV required collecting blood cells from a live donor swine for every diagnostic test, because the cells could only be used once. The new cell line can be continuously replicated and frozen to create cells for future use, reducing the number of live donor animals needed.

The new cell line is also commercially available to veterinary diagnostic labs that traditionally did not have access to swine blood cells needed to test for live ASFV.

Recent outbreaks of ASFV outside the African continent started after a single introduction of ASFV in the Republic of Georgia in 2007. The disease has recently spread to China and south east Asian countries. The current "Georgia" outbreak strain is highly contagious and lethal in domestic pigs. Even though the virus is not currently present in the United States, the U.S. swine industry could suffer substantial economic losses should an outbreak occur.

This research, which is highlighted in this month's issue of Viruses, was funded through an interagency agreement with the Science and Technology Directorate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A provisional patent application for this research was filed in April 2020 and the technology is now available for license. ARS scientists at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in Plum Island, N.Y. will continue to perform research and work towards finding tools to control the spread of ASFV in the nation.

The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in agricultural research results in $20 of economic impact.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 7/24/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending July 24, ethanol production increased by 5.5%, or 49,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 958,000 b/d—equivalent to 40.24 million gallons daily. Production remained 7.1% below the same week in 2019 as a result of the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The four-week average ethanol production rate ticked up 1.6% to 928,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.23 billion gallons.

Ethanol stocks rose by 2.4% to 20.3 million barrels, which was 17.2% below year-ago volumes. Inventories increased in all regions except the Rocky Mountains (PADD 4).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, grew 3.0% to 8.81 million b/d (135.04 bg annualized). Gasoline demand remained 7.8% lower than a year ago.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol moved 1.7% higher to 853,000 b/d, equivalent to 13.08 bg annualized, which was 11.1% below the year-earlier level.

The U.S. imported 27,000 b/d of ethanol, or 7.94 million gallons for the week, following two weeks when no imports were reported. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of May 2020.)

Soy Checkoff Farmer-Leaders Set Strong Course for the Future of U.S. Soy

This week, the United Soybean Board’s (USB) 78 farmer-leaders approved new projects to increase innovation, resilience and profitability for U.S. soybean farmers in 2021 and beyond. USB Chair Jim Carroll III and USB CEO Polly Ruhland discussed the impact of these investments to U.S. soybean farmers in a newly released video report from the meeting.
USB Board Meeting

The board considered several hundred proposals focused on increasing the value of U.S. soybeans and paving the way for new demand. These projects range from promoting the sustainability of U.S. Soy as a market differentiator to reputation management strategies to enhance end-user perceptions of soy products, in addition to research that strengthens the resilience of soybean production, improves protein meal quality and develops new industrial uses for soybean oil, among a multitude of other topics. The proposals all share a common goal — maximizing profit opportunities for U.S. soybean farmers.

“The decisions made by farmers today will have a significant impact on the U.S. Soy industry for the next year and even the decade ahead,” said Jim Carroll III, USB Chair and soybean farmer from Arkansas. “Our farmer-leaders who participated represent more than 500,000 U.S. soybean farmers across the country, and I’m proud to say we have done our job to make sure their investments — and our own as farmers ourselves — were put to the best use possible for the greatest return.”

The USB farmer-leaders approved 176 checkoff-funded projects for the 2021 fiscal year during the virtual meeting held July 29, 2020.

“Farmer decisions on USB’s strategic investments will help ensure support through difficult times, as well as act as catalysts to spark a bright future for U.S. Soy,” said Polly Ruhland, USB CEO. “The soy checkoff’s greatest strength is our network of farmer-leaders and their wisdom on what will create the most impact at the field level and beyond their farm gate.”

Among the selected investments, included below are a few examples of the innovative projects prioritized by USB’s farmer-leaders, across the target area and action team verticals.

• Sustainability Supply: This includes a focus on identifying biotic factors (living components of an ecosystem) and abiotic factors (non-living, chemical and physical components of an ecosystem) to improve soybean production. For example, one abiotic issue that USB investments will address is drought resiliency on the farm and its impact on yield limitations. The project focuses on developing drought tolerant soybeans, testing these new varieties, developing a drought tolerant germplasm and identifying what leads to the plant’s ability in adapting to dry conditions. In addition, the researchers have begun to combine drought tolerance with high protein or high oleic, low linoleic traits. USB will invest up to $15.4 million in the Supply Action Team across meal, oil and sustainability.

• Meal Marketplace: This includes a focus on U.S. soybean value chain transparency around quality and product differentiation to drive global preference for U.S. soy and partnerships. For example, as part of this investment effort, USB will continue to support nationwide soybean quality surveys to inform decisions around product improvement. The intention is to better connect the supply and demand side of the soybean value chain to increase product quality and market share, both in the U.S. and overseas. Desired outcomes include increased visibility of U.S. soybean quality that delivers long-term, demand-driven value throughout the value chain. USB will invest up to $18.6 million in the Marketplace Action Team across meal, oil and sustainability.

• Oil Demand: This includes a focus on soybean oil as a renewable alternative in replacing petroleum-, formaldehyde- and palm-based products, to name a few. For example, in addressing the failing concrete infrastructure in the U.S., USB has partnered with PoreShield, which is a concrete sealer that utilizes soy methyl ester (biodiesel) and polystyrene. The objective of this project is to build awareness and demonstrate to key stakeholders the long-term solution that uniquely addresses this issue — distinguishing PoreShield as a concrete durability enhancement. USB will invest up to $34.3 million in the Demand Action Team across meal, oil and sustainability.

The soy checkoff’s goal of increasing the resilience of U.S. Soy stems from a long series of unprecedented challenges. But, even in a time of crisis during this pandemic, the checkoff has proven it is prepared and relentless in its work on behalf of farmers.

“We have been through a record year of hardship and uncertainty, but we must focus on the future,” said Carroll. “It seems like farming and living have never been harder, but the determination and commitment of farmers and the checkoff continue to lead us forward.”

To learn more about key investments being made on behalf of soybean farmers, check out the video report from USB leadership or visit

Retail Fertilizer Prices Drift Lower

Most retail fertilizer prices continued to drift lower the third week of July 2020, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

Seven of the eight major fertilizers were lower in price compared to last month, but none of them were down a noteworthy amount, which DTN considers 5% or more. MAP has an average price of $428 per ton, down $1; potash $360/ton, down $3; urea $358/ton, down $1; 10-34-0 $466/ton, down $2; anhydrous $460/ton, down $3; UAN28 $225/ton, down $8; and UAN32 $263/ton, down $10.

The remaining fertilizer, DAP, had a slightly higher price looking back to last month at $407/ton, an increase of $3.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.28/lb.N, UAN28 $0.40/lb.N and UAN32 $0.41/lb.N.

All retail fertilizer prices continue to be lower from a year ago. Anhydrous is 21% lower; MAP is 19% less expensive; DAP, UAN28 and UAN32 are all 18% lower; urea is 17% less expensive, potash is 9% lower and 10-34-0 is 4% less expensive from last year at this time.

Farmers to Families Food Box Program Reaches 50 Million Boxes Delivered

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farmers to Families Food Box Program has distributed over 50 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The delivery of 50 Million food boxes has helped an incredible number of Americans in need,” said Secretary Perdue. “I couldn’t be prouder of the great job done by the food box program staff and the many farmers, distributors and non-profits that helped to get this program off the ground for the American people. The Farmers to Families Food Box Program got off to a strong start, delivering over 35.5 million boxes in the first 45 days, and has now reached over 50 million boxes delivered – a testament to everyone’s hard work. I have been meeting with food banks and recipients across the country and it’s been heartening to hear all the positive feedback on how the program has saved businesses and fed Americans in need. We are well into the second round of deliveries and we’re working harder than ever to continue to build on the success of the program.”
“50 million Farmers to Families Food Boxes have brought fresh and nutritious food grown by great American farmers to those most in need during this pandemic. I am proud of the profound impact this program has had on strengthening our workforce and nourishing hungry families. We will continue to prioritize our Nation’s farmers, ranchers, workers and families through this robust new Farmers to Families Food Box Program,” said Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump.

House Passes WRDA Bill with Smith Priorities for Nebraska

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE), released the following statement after the House passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (H.R. 7575). Included in this legislation is language Smith developed with the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to help communities which abide by certain criteria restore their eligibility for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assistance to repair damage from 2019 flooding.

Also included in this bill is language similar to the Lower Missouri Flood Prevention Program Act, which Smith helped introduce. The legislation would expand the scope of the Lower Missouri Basin study to improve flood prevention on the Missouri River from Sioux City, Iowa, and South Sioux City, Nebraska, to its confluence with the Mississippi River.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would be required to study, design, and construct water resources development projects and modify existing ones to provide flood protection for communities and develop a system plan to for reducing flood risk and improving flood resiliency.

“The 2019 floods ravaged farmland, destroyed essential infrastructure like highways, water treatment plants, and levees that had withstood the test of time for decades. While touring the damage in Peru with Senator Slama and community leaders, it was clear something needed to be done. Though there is still work ahead of us, this legislation is a big step toward addressing these issues,” said Smith. Prevention is also critical to avoiding damage and destruction in communities like South Sioux City. This legislation supports ongoing local rebuilding efforts and has the potential to save towns in rural America who have previously fallen through the cracks.”

NGFA commends House for approving waterways bill

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) commended the House today for passing by a unanimous voice vote the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020 (H.R. 7575).
The House bill includes two key NGFA priorities – an increase in the federal share of the funding for inland waterways projects and full use of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF).

“To maintain American agriculture’s competitive transportation advantage against other countries, stakeholders must relentlessly make the case for continued investment in U.S. waterways infrastructure,” said NGFA Vice President of Legislative Affairs and Public Policy Bobby Frederick. “Today’s bipartisan vote in the House brings Congress one step closer to achieving new WRDA legislation in 2020. NGFA will continue to work with both the House and Senate in an effort to ensure these policy wins for inland waterways and ports are reflected in the final agreement. An efficient waterborne transportation system is crucial for growing the American economy and job creation, and is vitally important to U.S. agricultural exports and their positive contribution to the U.S. balance of trade.”

WRDA legislation provides authority for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to implement water resources development projects. Since 2014, Congress has successfully enacted three consecutive WRDA bills on a biennial basis. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously approved WRDA 2020 on July 15 and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed its version of the legislation — dubbed the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 (S. 3591) — in May.

The NGFA submitted a July 14 letter in support of H.R. 7575, which outlined priorities for the grain, feed and processing industry in the legislation. In addition, NGFA spearheaded a July 28 support letter from the Agricultural Transportation Working Group signed by 27 organizations.

Cost-Share Formula

H.R. 7575 would expedite completion of inland waterways projects by changing the cost-share formula from the current 50 percent general revenue and 50 percent Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) funding to 65 percent general revenue and 35 percent IWTF.  The trust fund consists of revenues generated by barge fuel taxes assessed against commercial users of the inland waterways.

“It is well known that the majority of the nation’s locks and dams have outlived their 50-year design life and changing the cost-share is one prudent way to address this problem and bring U.S. waterways infrastructure into the 21st century more quickly,” Frederick said.

The Senate’s legislation also includes the same change in the cost-share amount, and also contains a beneficial provision that would make the cost-share change permanent instead of expiring in fiscal year 2027, as the House bill stipulates. 

Full Use of Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF)

H.R. 7575 also would allow access to the existing balance of funds within the HMTF. Currently, more than $9 billion has been collected and deposited in the fund but gone unspent for its intended purpose.

“Allowing full use of the [HMTF] for its intended purpose would correct the fiscal disservice to those that pay the 0.125 percent ad valorem tax based upon the value of cargo imports and would help restore the United States’ comparative transportation advantage,” Frederick said.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Tuesday July 28 Ag News

Farmers Union Asks the Legislature to Honor Nebraska’s Promise to Keep Our Meat and Poultry Processing Plant Workers Safe

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) is asking the Nebraska Legislature, especially those with meatpacking plants, poultry processing plants, or meat processing facilities in their Legislative District to work with Senator Tony Vargas as he asks the Legislature to suspend the rules to allow him to introduce a bill yet this session that is intended to follow through on the promise made to provide Nebraska meatpacking and poultry processing plant workers with a safe workplace and critical sick leave benefits.

Nebraska is the nation’s leading red meat producing and processing state. The industry is a massive economic engine that is spread across the state. NeFU counts at least 18 Senators or over a third of the legislative body who have meatpacking facilities in their Districts including Senator Vargas. Those Senators with meatpacking or meat processing plants in their Legislative District includes Senators Albrecht, Bostelman, Brandt, Geist, Halloran, La Grone, Lathrop, Lowe, McCollister, McDonnell, Moser, Quick, Scheer, Slama, Walz, Williams, and Wishart.  “We hope all the Senators with meatpacking, poultry processing, and meat processing facilities in their Legislative Districts can work together to make sure the workplace modifications, safety equipment, process changes, and sick leave benefits are in place as they should be,” said NeFU President John Hansen.

Hansen said “Everyone in Nebraska knows that our meatpacking workers, poultry processing workers, and meat processing workers have been hit disproportionately hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since not all the plants are reporting the number of workers who have tested positive or have died, it is not known exactly how many workers have been impacted or lost. Our state should not tolerate that lack of fundamental transparency. The workers, their families, and communities are entitled to that basic information.”

Nebraska Farmers Union was a co-sponsor of the rally at the Capitol Tuesday along with many other organizations asking the Legislature to make time to address meatpacking worker workplace safety and medical benefits. NeFU Secretary Graham Christensen was one of the speakers who addressed the rally. He pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted meatpacking communities, and that meatpacking workers deserved to be treated fairly and safely. Christensen said the recent meatpacking crisis exposed a rigid food system that does not work for food producers or food consumers. 

New PReP (Pandemic Research for the People) Rural Coalition Calls On Nebraska To Fix COVID-19 Related Disparities Emerging From The Fragile Food Production System

Nebraska Communities United, GC Resolve, Forward Latino, and the Nebraska League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) are calling on the State of Nebraska to do its part to address the fragile national food system immediately.  In a newly released document, coalition partners highlight how COVID-19 is accelerating the rural U.S. into a national security crisis.

PReP Rural, a coalition which all 3 groups participate in with other members from Nebraska and across the country, says that the current model of food production is putting people at risk and the food system must be updated to protect the health and well-being rural residents.

Six key actions were identified to increase our national security:

1. Increase meatpacking worker protections, pay, and safety standards immediately.  Currently meatpacking companies are committing human rights violations towards workers deemed essential.  All humans are created equal and those risking their lives to get the public food should be allotted the same benefits as executives in the parent company.

2. Update and enforce anti-trust legislation to increase competition in the agricultural marketplace by breaking up monopolization in the agricultural sector.

3. Allow for state inspection of meat processing and allow for interstate shipment of meat to secure up local food access and increase market opportunities for farmers and ranchers.

4. Reform federal farm subsidies to support a new crop of young farmers and invest in the transition to regenerative agriculture.

5. Resuscitate state-level corporate farming bans to protect independent farming and ranching operations from complete agri-business takeover and protect states from the aggressive push by industrial agriculture companies into rural areas that is decimating independent farmers, the environment, and rural quality of life.

6. Implement farmer-owned grain reserves to ensure that there is an abundant supply of seed and feed in times of natural disruptions.

Graham Christensen President of GC Resolve comment on PReP Rural Action Steps: “Nebraska is a case study for what is not working in food production.  To not address the issues presented by COVID-19 in the agricultural industry would be a blatant disregard to the security and well-being of rural Nebraskans.  Our leaders must use this opportunity to build a regenerative future for our state.  PReP Rural has identified the key regenerative focuses that help consumers have consistent access to food, that creates much needed new market opportunities for farmers, and that prioritizes the ultimate safety and well-being for meatpacking workers.”

Joe Henry National VP of Forward Latino comment on PReP Rural Action Steps: “The current food production system is not working for anyone.  LULAC is part of this coalition because we realize that if things are to get better for plant workers and farmers, a larger structural change will be needed.  The action steps identified from PReP Rural properly prioritizes protecting many of our members who are essential workers themselves, but also helps re-direct agriculture into a more hopeful direction that will help ensure opportunities for new independent packing plants with better working environments and also increases opportunities for farmers to produce more food for our families.”

Elsa Ramon-Aranda Council Contact at Nebraska LULAC on PReP Rural Action Steps: “Nebraska LULAC has been shocked to hear about the lack of regard for the well-being of essential worker from big meatpacking companies, about the lack of transparency on reporting COVID-19 cases in meatpacking plants, and about the lack leadership in addressing how we can protect these workers.  LULAC has also seen similarities in how family farmers are being neglected in this time of crisis as well.  It doesn’t appear the current food production model is built to last through the natural challenges of a complex world so we support PReP Rural’s Action Steps that will increase food security and shift food production into a regenerative direction.

Nebraska Communities United President Randy Ruppert comment on PReP Rural Action Steps: “For too many years multinational corporations have continued to consolidate and force out smaller centralized processing plants.  With the pandemic, farmers are destroying herds of swine, cattle and fowl while the companies continue to force essential workers to be placed in harm's way.  More farmers approach bankruptcy, yet several meatpacking companies accrued record profits.  We have to bring equity back into our food system now.  Increasing our security by focusing on local processing and regenerative agricultural principles will once again make our food system strong, safe and reliable while protecting the health of the workers and our environment.”

With these six state and federal focuses, the worst outcomes for our producers, the broader community and the country more widely could be alleviated.  We also can make sure another outbreak, increasing flooding and other climate disturbances, and any other emergency never gridlocks production again.  Community resiliency, agility, and farmer autonomy are the way forward.

The Farm Progress Virtual Experience will include the most extensive field demos in the history of both the Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days.

The merging of field demonstrations for the two largest farm shows in the country will be the cornerstone of the industry-leading Farm Progress Virtual Experience. Set to kick off Sept. 15 and run through Sept. 17, the new virtual event will allow farmers to get close to a wider range of new machines in action than ever before.

"This will be no static display of equipment sitting on some farm," says Don Tourte, senior vice president of sales for Farm Progress. "We've got close to 400 acres of corn to harvest at two sites, and three days of alfalfa to cut, rake and bale. And we're going to be showing machines at work on all those different tasks — and even more."

When the virtual gates open on Day 1, farmers will get a chance to see all these machines at work. Field demonstrations will be carried out each day at 9 a.m. and at 11 a.m. This video-intense demonstration program will engage multiple camera views, including from the air, so viewers can see these machines from every angle.

"And we're going to have more types of equipment to view, too," says Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress national events director. "From combines to tillage to hay tools and even planting equipment, we expect our exhibitors to bring in a lot of machinery to show off in this special virtual event. It will be a unique opportunity for farmers to get up close and personal with the equipment."

That's right, no tape line to stay behind, and the video cameras for these virtual demonstrations will be positioned in ways that show off each machine's unique features. In addition, every demonstration will be followed by a farmer panel offering insight into what they found interesting about the new machines in action.

"We're all in new territory with a virtual event, but we are doing all we can to re-create the experiences farmers most want to see when they come to either the Farm Progress Show or Husker Harvest Days," Jungmann says.

The Farm Progress Virtual Experience runs Sept. 15-17.

Fed Cattle Exchange Acquired by Central Stockyards, LLC

The Fed Cattle Exchange, the only weekly fed cattle online auction for the cattle industry, has been acquired by Central Stockyards, LLC from 5150 Productions Company, LLC.

Since 2016 the Fed Cattle Exchange has provided the cattle industry with weekly, cost-effective cattle auctions that provide a platform for price discovery through competitive bidding. The prices determined in the weekly auctions benefit the entire cattle industry and livestock futures markets by providing a transparent baseline price for weekly negotiated live cattle markets.

"The Fed Cattle Exchange is a vital tool to the cattle industry because it provides transparent price discovery," said Forrest Roberts, President and CEO of Central Stockyards, LLC. "Our vision is that we can make the Fed Cattle Exchange even more valuable to customers and the entire cattle industry by using technical innovations to adapt to immediate industry needs."

"The Fed Cattle Exchange has been a personal and professional passion since 2015," said Jordan Levi, Manager of 5150 Productions Company, LLC. "I am pleased the Fed Cattle Exchange is being acquired by a team with the technical resources and cattle industry experience needed to support and expand the Fed Cattle Exchange."

"We look forward to servicing existing customers of the Fed Cattle Exchange and earning the business of new customers," said Surcy Peoples, Director of Operations for Central Stockyards, LLC.  "We are working hard to bring new marketing methods to the cattle industry that support the benefits of negotiated trade and reward value creation."

The acquisition was effective as of July 24, 2020. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

NASDA Issues Statement on Chinese Mystery Seeds

NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn

"National Association of State Departments of Agriculture is working closely with USDA's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Department of Homeland Security to understand the origin of these unsolicited seeds from China that have entered our country illegally.

Right now we are encouraging the public to keep the seeds and complete packaging, including mailing information, and contact your state department of agriculture or APHIS state director.

Please do not plant or consume the seeds."

IDALS Issues Guidance on Proper Disposal of Unsolicited Seed Deliveries

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig confirmed today that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is aware that individuals in Iowa have received unsolicited seed shipments from China and other countries.

The Department is asking anyone who receives unlabeled seed from an unknown origin to retain the original packaging and report it immediately at 515-281-5321. Recipients should not open the seed packet, plant the seed or attempt to destroy it. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship or United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will collect, analyze and properly destroy the seeds.

“The Iowa Department of Agriculture is working closely with the USDA to trace, collect and properly destroy these unknown seeds to protect our agriculture community from plant and seed-borne diseases,” said Secretary Naig.

Unlabeled seeds and seeds from unknown origins should never be planted. They pose the risk of introducing an invasive plant species or seed-borne diseases that do not currently exist in the United States. APHIS is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection and State departments of agriculture to prevent the unlawful entry of prohibited seeds and protect U.S. agriculture from invasive pests and noxious weeds.

The USDA APHIS issued a news release stating this may be a “brushing scam,” where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost online sales.


The Beef Industry Long Range Plan task force officially introduced its new five-year plan for 2021-2025 today at the Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting in Denver. The task force’s mission is to ensure the long-term prosperity of the U.S. beef industry by sustainably producing the most trusted, highest quality and consistently satisfying protein for consumers around the world.

“We want beef to be the protein of choice, and we want the entire U.S. beef industry to be trusted and respected for its commitment to quality, safety, and sustainability,” said Kim Brackett, leader of the task force and cow/calf rancher from Idaho. “The task force invested many hours, discussing the current state of the industry and what we need to accomplish over the next five years. We feel we’ve established some important priorities and strategies, as well as benchmarks for success that will help keep our industry on track through 2025 and beyond.”


Updated every five years, the Beef Industry Long Range Plan is a tool designed to help the beef industry establish a common set of objectives and priorities. It communicates the industry’s strategic direction and provides insight on how the industry can serve its stakeholders by growing beef demand.

Since 1995, industry leaders have gathered to develop an aligned, comprehensive plan with the goal of increasing consumer demand for beef. These leaders are brought together to study and compile major areas of opportunity facing beef over the next five years.

The 2021-2025 Beef Industry Long Range Plan includes the following key priorities and core strategies:

Industry Objectives:

1. Grow global demand for U.S. beef by promoting beef’s health and nutritional benefits, satisfying flavor and unparalleled safety.
2. Improve industry-wide profitability by expanding processing capacity and developing improved value-capture models.
3. Intensify efforts in researching, improving, and communicating U.S. beef industry sustainability.
4. Make traceability a reality in the U.S. beef industry.

Core Strategies:

1. Drive growth in beef exports.
2. Grow consumer trust in beef production.
3. Develop and implement better business models to improve price discovery and value distribution across all segments.
4. Promote and capitalize on the multiple advantages of beef.
5. Improve the business and political climate for beef.
6. Safeguard and cultivate investment in beef industry research, marketing and innovation.

“We’ll measure the plan’s success by tracking key metrics for each Core Strategy,” Brackett said. “For example, one of the measures for the Core Strategy to ‘Drive growth in beef exports’ will be to grow the value of U.S. beef exports as a percent of total beef value to 21% by 2025. Additionally, there are a number of other goals to help measure success specific to the other core strategies.”


The Long Range Plan Task Force encourages other beef industry businesses and organizations to utilize the plan as input for their own strategic decision making processes. 

For example, the Beef Checkoff, its committees, and contracting organizations, use pieces of the Long Range Plan as their guidebook. All funding decisions and focus areas of Checkoff projects and programs, by design, must follow the key areas outlined in the plan that align with Checkoff budget categories: promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, producer communication and foreign marketing. To ensure this focus, each year Checkoff committees continue to renew their alignment by identifying key plan initiatives as their priorities based on current industry needs. Checkoff contractors take this direction and develop Checkoff-funded programs that fall within the scope of the Beef Promotion and Research Act and Order and support the plan’s priorities.


The task force convened several times over the past year and considered all aspects of the industry from production trends, economic factors, foreign markets, consumer trends, and the competitive climate. The group evaluated the previous five-year plan and determined, based on industry trends and insights, where the industry should maintain and/or shift focus over the next five years.

In addition to Brackett, other members of the task force are also individuals representing key beef industry segments and devoted to ensuring the beef industry’s long-term success:
    Dr. Keith Belk, Department Head Animal Science, Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO)
    Andy Bishop, Fairfield Farms, (Cox’s Creek, KY)  
    Tim Brady, Director of Risk Management, Agri Beef Co. (Boise, ID)
    Donnell Brown, Owner/Manager, R.A. Brown Ranch (Throckmorton, TX)
    John Butler, CEO the Beef Marketing Group, feeder (Manhattan, KS)
    Paul Defoor, Co-CEO at Cactus Feeders, Inc., feeder (Amarillo, TX)
    Joe Goggins, Owner, Auctioneer and Field Rep, Public Auction Yards, (Billings, MT)
    Ken Griner, President, Usher Land & Timber, Inc., cow/calf and seedstock (Chiefland, FL)
    Mary Kraft, Owner/Operator, Quail Ridge Dairy (Fort Morgan, CO)
    Jon Lowe, Head of Global Commercial Development, Livestock, Zoetis (Parsippany, NJ)
    Dean Meyer, farmer/feeder (Rock Rapids, IA)
    William Rishel, Owner, Rishel Ranch, seedstock (Lincoln, NE)

    Suzy Strassburger, President, Strassburger Steaks, LLC, a specialty meat purveyor (Carlstadt, NJ)
    Jerry Wulf, Partner/Advisor, Wulf Cattle (Hancock, MN)

“After helping to develop our previous Long Range Plan, I was encouraged with how it was embraced by the entire industry,” said Brackett. “Over the past year, our task force researched and fashioned this new plan with just as much care, and we hope it will be received with even more enthusiasm.”

To view the complete Beef Industry Long Range Plan, a plan summary or get more information, visit

NCBA's Annual Summer Business Meeting Commences

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association's (NCBA) Annual Summer Business Meeting began today in Denver, where more than 500 cattle producers, industry partners, and stakeholders gathered, both in-person and virtually, for policy development, education, and long-range planning.

“Summer Business Meeting is a perfect example of NCBA’s grassroots, member driven, policy-making process in action,” NCBA President Marty Smith said. “This event is about bringing producers together to learn, discuss, vote, and adopt policy positions for the next year. These are policies designed by and for America's cattle producers. I am proud to see that even with all of the challenges of 2020, we have had nearly 600 cattle producers join us in Denver.”

NCBA unveiled the Beef Industry’s Long Range Plan (LRP) during General Session, which includes industry priorities and the vision for promoting Beef, America’s premiere protein, over the next five years. Idaho rancher Kim Brackett and chair of the LRP Task Force, presented the new plan and NCBA’s Board of Directors will vote on the proposed plan at the Wednesday board meeting.

Summer Business Meeting will also feature important policy committee meetings like the Live Cattle Marketing Committee, which will consider several policies of importance to the industry.

“I’m honored and excited to be working with all our attendees and I want to thank everyone who has volunteered their time to make these next three days a success and engage in important conversations on the state of the beef industry,” Smith added.

Illinois Farmer Elected U.S. Grains Council Chairman During Virtual Summer Meeting

The delegates of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) elected Jim Raben, a farmer from Illinois representing the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, as chairman of its Board of Directors at its 60th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting, held virtually on Tuesday.

“It’s always been my way to cultivate relationships because together we are stronger, our collective voices are heard more loudly, and we can work together to achieve our common goals,” Raben said in his incoming remarks.

“The Council works around the clock and around the globe to find and expand new pockets of demand for the products we offer. That’s why I’ve chosen for my theme Building Relationships, Building Trade.”

Raben has been working on his family farm since 1973, more recently with help from his two sons. He spent nine years on the Illinois Corn Marketing Board before joining the Council’s board in 2015 as an at-large member. Raben has also previously served as the Board liaison for various USGC Advisory Teams (A-Teams).

The delegates elected as secretary-treasurer Joshua Miller of the Indiana Corn Marketing Council. Additionally, Don Duval, Illinois Corn Marketing Board; Duane Aistrope, Iowa Corn Promotion Board; and Verity Ulibarri, United Sorghum Checkoff Program, were elected as at-large directors.

The full USGC Board of Directors is now as follows:
- Jim Raben, Illinois Corn Marketing Board - Chairman
- Chad Willis, Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council - Vice Chairman
- Joshua Miller, Indiana Corn Marketing Council - Secretary/Treasurer
- Duane Aistrope, Iowa Corn Promotion Board - At-Large Director
- Brent Boydston, Bayer Crop Science - At-Large Director
- Don Duvall, Illinois Corn Marketing Board - At-Large Director
- Greg Hibner, J.D. Heiskell Hawkeye Gold - Agribusiness Sector Director
- Wayne Humphreys, Iowa Corn Promotion Board - Corn Sector Director
- Jim Massey, United Sorghum Checkoff Program - Sorghum Sector Director
- Tadd Nicholson, Ohio Corn Marketing Program, State Checkoff Sector Director
- Rick Schwarck, Absolute Energy - Agribusiness-Ethanol and Co-Products Sector Director
- Mark Seastrand, North Dakota Barley Council - Barley Sector Director
- Verity Ulibarri, United Sorghum Checkoff Program - At-Large Director
- Ryan LeGrand, U.S. Grains Council - President and CEO

Outgoing Chairman Armstrong said in remarks to the delegates that the Council is fortunate to have many qualified individuals passionate about the agricultural industry in leadership positions at the Council.

“Our new chairman, the Board of Directors and the Board of Delegates provide excellent insight into the challenges and opportunities in the international trade arena,” Armstrong said.

The Council’s meeting continues Wednesday with Advisory Team meetings in the morning and a closing general session in the afternoon, featuring presentations by U.S.-China Business Council President Ambassador Craig Allen and former Assistant Trade Representative Sharon Bomer Lauritsen.

More from the meeting is available on social media, using the hashtag #grains20.

Additional Coronavirus Relief Critical to Farm Businesses

Yesterday, Senate leadership introduced the Health Economic Assistance Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act.  The HEALS Act is the latest in response to the COVID-19 national emergency and would provide an additional $20 billion to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help farmers and ranchers.

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says, “We are grateful to Leader McConnell and Senate Leadership for placing a high priority on bringing relief to America’s farmers and ranchers throughout this crisis. The additional $20 billion for agriculture in the HEALS Act would come at a critical time as the impact of this pandemic continues to hit our farms and rural communities.

“America’s farmers and ranchers and the men and women who work alongside us have answered the call as an essential industry in keeping our nation’s food supply secure. Farmers and ranchers have faced difficult decisions and shown great ingenuity and perseverance to keep their farms running, all while being met with steep challenges as markets and supply chains rapidly react to unprecedented changes. We all depend on our nation’s farms and ranches hanging on through this crisis.

“We look forward to continuing our work with Congress and the Administration to protect the well-being of our critical workforce, our rural communities and our country through a secure food supply.”

-    The $20 billion has few restrictions and can be used “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus by providing support for agricultural producers, growers, and processors impacted by coronavirus, including producers, growers, and processors of specialty crops, non-specialty crops, dairy, livestock and poultry, including livestock and poultry depopulated due to insufficient processing access and growers who produce livestock or poultry under a contract for another entity.”
-    The bill allocates an additional $457 million to USDA to address other issues, including $245 million to make up for lost user fees due to the decline in agriculture inspection services and $113 million in rural rental assistance to low-wage residents.
-    Senate leadership also introduced the Continuing Small Business Recovery and Paycheck Protection Program Act as part of the HEALS Act, which includes several of the technical changes to the Paycheck Protection Program supported by AFBF.

Growth Energy Rallies Behind Ernst’s Demand for Action on E15 Labeling

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor applauded Senator Joni Ernst’s (R-Iowa) push to secure action on the administration’s prior commitment to streamline labeling and remove infrastructure barriers to the sale of E15, a fuel blend containing 15 percent ethanol. In a new letter to the to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the senator called on the agency to “act now to initiate a rulemaking process and follow through on this agreement to provide certainty to our Iowa farmers.”

“There’s no excuse for regulators to drag their feet on E15, especially at time when new markets for biofuels could provide an economic lifeline for communities hammered by COVID-19 and years of EPA demand destruction,” said Skor. “The president made a commitment to Senator Ernst and her colleagues, and we applaud her for holding the EPA accountable on that promise. Biofuel workers and American farmers expect action, as do motorists, who stand to benefit most from expanded access to the clean, affordable biofuel blends like E15, which continues to rise in popularity at more than 2,100 sites across the nation.”

RFA Launches Young Professionals Network

In order to meet the needs of an evolving workforce in the ethanol industry, the Renewable Fuels Association has launched the Young Professionals Network (YPN), a new program geared toward members of the ethanol industry and stakeholder industries who are 39 years old and younger. The YPN is a community of young leaders who have a common goal to develop their professional skills, grow their network in the renewable fuels industry, advance their respective businesses forward and support the national agenda of the U.S. ethanol industry.

The YPN is designed to bring together innovative and dedicated young professionals to build new relationships and work with one another to identify new opportunities that grow and strengthen the renewable fuels industry. In order to foster this new approach, the RFA YPN will host events year-round that focus on networking, leadership, improving operations, and finding new and innovative approaches to building the market for ethanol.

“As we visited plants across the country and hosted industry meetings, we’ve met many smart and innovative young people with a deep interest in renewable fuels,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “Our association wants to help the industry cultivate, develop, and retain the best and brightest young leaders in the business. Providing a forum for them to come together and collaborate on personal, professional and industry development will help them, their employers, and our industry succeed.”

Those who wish to learn more about the Young Professionals Network can go to, where the application is available. A YPN membership is free for those who qualify and is open to both current and non-members of the RFA; applications are being accepted on a rolling basis. Members are required to participate in at least one YPN engagement per year to maintain their membership status. The YPN initiative is being led by RFA’s Manager of Member Relations, Jackie Pohlman.

High-Protein DDGS Provide High-Quality Pig Nutrition

With more ethanol in production and a greater ability to upcycle co-products into animal feed ingredients, companies are creating custom products and partnering with University of Illinois researchers to test for quality and digestibility.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Animal Science, Illinois researchers show a new high-protein distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) product from Marquis Energy has greater energy and protein digestibility than conventional DDGS.

"We've never seen a corn co-product with such a high energy concentration or amino acid digestibility," says Hans H. Stein, professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at Illinois and co-author on the study. "It's clearly a high-value product."

The product, branded ProCap DDGS, contains 48% crude protein, far higher than conventional de-oiled DDGS, which the research team evaluated at 31% in a nutrient analysis of each ingredient. ProCap DDGS also provided approximately 1,200 kcal per kilogram of metabolizable energy more than conventional DDGS, according to the analysis.

The study consisted of three experiments. In the first, the researchers evaluated the apparent and standardized ileal digestibility of crude protein and amino acids in three diets: ProCap DDGS, conventional de-oiled DDGS (also from Marquis Energy), and a nitrogen-free diet used to determine endogenous losses of amino acids and crude protein. Vitamins and minerals were added to each diet to meet or exceed dietary requirements. The researchers fed each diet to nine growing pigs for six days at three times the maintenance energy requirement.

On the fifth and sixth days, researchers collected ileal digesta and analyzed dry matter, crude protein, and amino acids. As suggested by their nutrient analysis of the raw products, the researchers found the ProCap DDGS contained more crude protein and amino acids than de-oiled DDGS, and the standardized ileal digestibility of nearly all amino acids was greater in ProCap DDGS.

The second experiment focused on energy digestibility. In this case, the researchers evaluated three diets: corn, corn + ProCap DDGS, and corn + de-oiled DDGS. Again, all diets were supplemented with vitamins and minerals as needed. The team fed each diet to 24 growing barrows for 13 days at 3.2 times the maintenance energy requirement. Researchers calculated digestible energy and metabolizable energy values for all diets by collecting feces and urine over a four-day period during the experiment.

"If you look at the energy, which is of very high value for producers, and you compare with corn, we had much greater energy concentration in the ProCap DDGS, whereas conventional DDGS was lower than corn," Stein says.

The third experiment evaluated phosphorous digestibility. Researchers fed 32 barrows ProCap DDGS and de-oiled DDGS with or without microbial phytase. The pigs consumed these diets, along with supplemental vitamins and minerals (except phosphorus and calcium), for 13 days. Researchers collected feces from day six to day 12, and found that phytase + ProCap DDGS increased the digestibility of phosphorus. However, without phytase, phosphorus digestibility of ProCap DDGS was lower than de-oiled DDGS.

The three experiments confirm ProCap DDGS has greater amino acid digestibility and contains more metabolizable energy than de-oiled DDGS, but has reduced phosphorus digestibility.

"The ethanol industry is clearly moving toward trying to separate the different streams that come out after fermentation so they can identify high-value, high-quality products. I think we'll see even more innovation and new feed ingredients in the future thanks to more advanced technologies in ethanol plants," Stein says.

The article, "A new source of high-protein distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) has greater digestibility of amino acids and energy, but less digestibility of phosphorus, than de-oiled DDGS when fed to growing pigs," is published in the Journal of Animal Science. Authors include Minoy Cristobal, Jessica Acosta, Su A Lee, and Hans H. Stein. The research was supported by Marquis Energy, Hennepin, Ill. The Department of Animal Sciences is in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Monday July 27 Crop Progress + Ag News


For the week ending July 26, 2020, there were 5.5 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 12% very short, 29% short, 57% adequate, and 2% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 9% very short, 29% short, 60% adequate, and 2% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 2% very poor, 5% poor, 18% fair, 54% good, and 21% excellent. Corn silking was 89%, well ahead of 61% last year, and ahead of 80% for the five-year average. Dough was 27%, ahead of 9% last year and 16% average.

Soybean condition rated 2% very poor, 4% poor, 14% fair, 59% good, and 21% excellent. Soybeans blooming was 90%, well ahead of 60% last year, and ahead of 76% average. Setting pods was 53%, well ahead of 27% last year and 33% average.

Winter wheat harvested was 93%, well ahead of 49% last year, and ahead of 81% average.
Sorghum condition rated 1% very poor, 5% poor, 27% fair, 46% good, and 21% excellent. Sorghum headed was 43%, well ahead of 23% last year, and ahead of 32% average.

Oats harvested was 82%, well ahead of 39% last year, and ahead of 67% average.

Dry edible bean condition rated 1% very poor, 1% poor, 15% fair, 68% good, and 15% excellent. Dry edible beans blooming was 60%, well ahead of 33% last year. Setting pods was 15%, ahead of 7% last year.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 7% very poor, 7% poor, 26% fair, 54% good, and 6% excellent.


Another week with primarily spotty rains meant farmers had 6.0 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending July 26, 2020, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Fieldwork activities included spraying, harvesting hay and grain movement. Aerial application of fungicides was also reported.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 11% very short, 27% short, 59% adequate and 3% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 6% very short, 26% short, 65% adequate and 3% surplus. West central Iowa topsoil and subsoil moisture supplies are the lowest in the State with well over half considered short to very short.

Corn silking or beyond reached 87%, 12 days ahead of the previous year and 3 days ahead of the 5-year average. Corn in the dough stage reached 23%, 10 days ahead of the previous year and 4 days ahead of the average. Corn condition rated 77% good to excellent.

Soybeans blooming reached 85%, just over 2 weeks ahead of last year and 6 days ahead of average. Soybeans setting pods reached 50%, just over 2 weeks ahead of last year and 5 days ahead of average. Soybean condition rated 76% good to excellent.

Oats turning color reached 95%, 4 days ahead of last year and 1 day ahead of the average. Oats harvested for grain reached 56%, 1 week ahead of last year and 2 days ahead of the average. Oat condition rated 73% good to excellent.

Alfalfa hay second cutting reached 84%, 8 days ahead of last year and 2 days ahead of the average. Hay condition rated 69% good to excellent.

Pasture condition rated 51% good to excellent. Some pastures are going dormant due to lack of adequate rain.

USDA: Corn and Soybean Conditions Improve Slightly

The condition of the U.S. corn and soybean crops rose slightly last week, USDA NASS said in its weekly Crop Progress report on Monday. Development of both crops are ahead of the five-year average.

NASS estimated that 72% of the corn crop was in good-to-excellent condition as of Sunday, July 26, up 3 percentage points from the previous week and the third highest rating in 10 years.  Corn silking jumped 23 percentage points to reach 82% as of Sunday. That was well ahead of the 51% seen at this time last year and moved this year's silking progress 7 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 75%. Corn in the dough stage was estimated at 22%, also ahead of the five-year average of 17%.

Soybean development also continued to run ahead of normal last week. Soybeans blooming was estimated at 76%, 4 percentage points ahead of the five-year average. The portion of the crop setting pods was estimated at 43%, 7 percentage points ahead of the five-year average.  Soybean conditions improved slightly last week. NASS estimated that 72% of the soybean crop was in good-to-excellent condition as of July 26, up 3 percentage points from 69% the previous week and the second highest rating in 10 years.

Winter wheat harvest trails the five-year average by 1 percentage point with an estimated 81% of the crop harvested as of Sunday. That's up 7 percentage points from last week.

The percentage of spring wheat headed reached 97% as of Sunday, almost caught up with the five-year average of the five-year average of 98%.  Spring wheat condition increased 2 percentage points to 70% good to excellent.


Northeast ag students develop marketing plans for local and area businesses

The end of the semester for any student is loaded with final exams and other work to wrap up the academic year. With COVID-19 hovering down on life this spring, agriculture students in one particular class at Northeast Community College had to adjust in the way they would normally make final project presentations.

Instructor Brandon Keller said instead of the usual face-to-face method, students in his Agricultural Marketing Systems course had to prepare to give their business marketing presentations in a virtual classroom setting - via the Zoom communications portal that millions of people around the world have come to adopt over the past several months.

“The overall goal of this particular project was to provide our agriculture students the opportunity to apply the concepts they learned in class to a real business through the completion of a multi-part business analysis as it pertains to marketing and marketing evaluation,” Keller said. “Each year I seek out 10-14 locally owned agricultural businesses to participate in the project.”

To date, Keller has had representatives from golf courses, bakeries, pumpkin patches, greenhouses, recreation businesses, chartered hunting businesses, county fair boards, grain boards, vet clinics and a high school sophomore’s custom beef business participate in the project, which is in its third year.

Each portion of the project has a direct link to topics that were covered in the course. They were built upon the work that had been completed in pervious portions of the project, which is essential for each group to remain organized and in communication to ensure their success.

Keller begins the semester by randomly assigning groups of students to a business that they work with for the duration of the semester. From there, he said students build relationships with the business owner or representatives of an organization.

“Students work closely with them to gather information to complete a business analysis in the areas of competition, pricing, a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis, and marketing and promotions for the business,” he said. “The project wraps up at the end of the semester when students create an executive report of the business and then give a formal presentation about their business and what they learned.”

The pandemic brought new challenges to the project when student groups moved to working remotely following Northeast’s winter break in March. The project continued as planned, however, the students were introduced to a different way of working through virtual meetings with Zoom and Facetime, communicating via email and instant messaging and collaborating on shared document programs such as OneDrive and Google Docs.

Keller said, “Since the formal presentations at the end of the semester couldn’t be given in the classroom like normal, students instead had the unique experience of giving their group presentation via Zoom to a panel of Northeast employees.”

Presentations came complete with a PowerPoint and each member of the group took the opportunity to present to the panel. After the group finished their presentation, the panel asked group members questions about their business, their analysis and their experience with the project.

Businesses participating in the project included: Eldorado Hills Golf Course, Norfolk; Johansen Greenhouse and Nursery, Norfolk, Nebraska Sorghum Board, North Fork Bread Company, Norfolk; North Fork Outfitting, Norfolk; Pfanny’s Farm, Randolph; Ritter Cattle Feedyards, Beemer; R&M Meats, LLC, Norfolk; and Stadium Sports, Wayne.

Keller admits he was initially concerned about transitioning the project to a remote learning format, but was pleased with the outcome.

“The student groups had enjoyed the hands-on collaboration time in the classroom and I feared that the remote setting would take away from those valuable experiences. However, our Northeast students once again rose to the challenge and overcame adversity creating an excellent final result for their partner businesses.

Sen. Deb Fischer to join UNL Ag Econ webinar series for ag policy discussion

Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer will join the UNL Ag Econ Dept's weekly Farm and Ranch Management webinar series for a special Monday edition to focus on current policy issues and developments affecting agriculture in the state.

The live presentation is scheduled for Aug. 3 at noon. It will feature Fischer’s comments on current and pending coronavirus relief legislation, regulatory issues and other developments related to agriculture, as well as a Q&A segment.

Register for the webinar at

Haskell Ag Lab Science & Ag Family Field Day goes VIRTUAL for 2020

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Haskell Agricultural Laboratory Family Field Day will be VIRTUAL this year.  The decision to have a virtual field day was made due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and the many unknowns.  The committee also felt it was important to showcase the research and education that happens at the Haskell Ag Lab.  The health and safety of our employees, attendees, and anyone involved in this event is our highest priority. 

Even though we are not having an on-site field day, we will be launching a virtual video tour of Haskell Ag Lab (HAL) Programming at 8 AM. on August 5th.   This video tour will highlight the research and educational programs at the Haskell Ag Lab. The HAL Programming virtual video tour will include cover crops, a drone demonstration, corn rootworm rating information, manure spreader calibration, unique trees in the Northeast Arboretum, insect issues, and bee research. In addition to the HAL Ag Lab Programming virtual video tour, other topics will also be available virtually.  Those include land values and cash rental rates, farm and ranch succession, canning and food safety, cow milk production versus calf size, grazing management principles that make a difference, various types of tree information, Nitrate Kerplunk, how to avoid common tree mistakes. Dr. Tiffany Heng-Moss, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources will also present a message virtually.

Release dates for virtual presentations will begin in early summer and continue through the beginning of August.  All presentations will be available by August 5, 2020 and will remain available for on-demand viewing. 

In addition, the Haskell Ag Lab will have a live zoom session at 2 pm that will focus on various programs.   Anyone will be able to join in and ask questions of the presenters to learn more about various programs. Please register at the following link for the 2 pm zoom session:   Individuals that register will receive a link to join the live zoom at 2 pm on August 5th.   The live zoom session at 2 p.m. will focus on various sessions that one can participate in.  Some of those sessions include Optimizing crop yield and soil health benefits with tillage, crop rotation, and nitrogen management practices; Soybean Gall Midge; Food Labeling-Fact or Fiction; a demonstration plot update; food and nutrition demonstration; and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) and Nature for Kids. CCA credits will be available for the live zoom sessions.  You will need to register at the above link to obtain these credits.

Also on August 5th at 6:30 there will be a zoom on Food Preservation 101 – an Overview. Please register for this learning session at

These presentations and demonstrations are geared toward all ages. For more information or questions, call the Haskell Ag Lab at 402-584-2261 or visit their Facebook page at

Who is on your Farm and Ranch Management (FARM) team?

Jessica Groskopf – NE Extension Educator
When owning or working on a farm or a ranch, you wear many hats. You are an agronomist, a mechanic, a truck driver, a marketer and a family mediator. But what about when you need professional advice and guidance? 

Do you have the right team of professionals assembled to tackle the challenges of farming or ranching? As a farmer or rancher, you should develop a Farm and Ranch Management (FARM) Team. This team should comprise industry professionals who can help you make critical business decisions.
Who is on your FARM team?

Although these individuals may not sit at the dinner table with you, they are an integral part of your business. Being able to delegate tasks or get sound advice from them can have a positive impact on your bottom line.   Building a strong team can make tough times a lot easier. Here are some ideas of who you should include on this list:

Key family members
Key employees
Financial planner
Investment advisor
Agronomist/crop scout
Insurance agent
Extension educator/agent

Are you the CEO of your operation?
Having a trusted FARM team can assist in the decision making. However, you must remain the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of your operation. If you have asked the same question to your banker, tax accountant and lawyer, they may provide three separate pieces of advice. You must assess the pros and cons of your options and ultimately make the decision.

Are you using your FARM team effectively?
Dropping off your receipts at the tax accountant’s office on April 10 may not provide him or her a clear picture of the goals you have for your operation. Having scheduled timely meetings with each of your FARM team members can improve their ability to serve you. During these meetings you will want to discuss your current situation, your future direction, and your plan of attack. With this information, they can advise you on services they provide and where they can help you improve your operation. 

Some big decisions, like developing an estate plan, may require that you meet with multiple members of your FARM team at once.   Having multiple advisors in the same meeting lets everyone hear the same discussion and allows advisors to debate the pros and cons of the proposed solution from each vantage point. Formal FARM team meetings with multiple advisors can create a clearer line of communication. 

Who is the weak link on your FARM team?
Having a weak link on your FARM team could be detrimental. For example, an agronomist who recommends an application that does not have a positive return on investment can mean wasted dollars. Why are these people on your team? Are they the most cost-effective choice? What other resources do you have at your disposal?

Sometimes it is hard to “fire” members of your FARM team but consider the expense of keeping these weak links. Time, money and trust are not resources that are easily regained.

Sometimes it may not be possible to replace a member of your team. For example, “firing” a landlord or tenant may not be possible, especially if they are family. In these situations, consider ways to improve your working relationship with them. Are you communicating with them effectively? What can you do to engage them more in the decision-making process? How can you approach this situation to make it more mutually beneficial?

As a farmer or rancher, you cannot do it all but, with the help of a strong FARM team, you can make the best decisions possible for your operation.

Meetings announced regarding lower Missouri River flood risk management

Three upcoming stakeholder meetings will help identify and prioritize problem areas along the Missouri River as part of a larger multi-state effort to address flooding in the lower Missouri River basin.

The meetings will be held virtually via Zoom on July 28, 29 and 30. Details on times and connection information is available at

This effort is in response to near-historic levels in the Missouri River in 2019. The unprecedented amount of runoff resulted in the lower Missouri River staying above flood stage at multiple locations for nearly nine months, causing billions of dollars of damage to homes, businesses, agricultural production, levees and natural resources across five states, including Iowa.

The meetings will all follow the same agenda and will be open to discussion of the entire length of the Missouri River in Iowa. During these meetings, participants will be asked to identify specific problem areas along the river that lead to flooding issues and to provide potential solutions if possible.

Once problem areas have been identified by state partners and stakeholders, a set of criteria will be developed to rank and prioritize them. That prioritized list, along with any other relevant background information and ideas for potential solutions, will be provided to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for further analysis. 

The information gathered and analysis completed will be documented in a flood risk management plan for the entire lower Missouri River, which can be used at the state and local level to help inform flood risk management decisions moving forward.

The project is a partnership between the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Kansas Water Office, and the Kansas City and Omaha districts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

New Disease Severity and Insect Defoliation Training Tool Available

Crop scouts and field researchers have a new tool at their disposal to help correctly estimate disease severity and insect defoliation in field crops. The new tool can be found on the Crop Protection Network website....

This web tool will help scouts and researchers hone their assessment skills to accurately estimate the amount of a leaf covered by disease lesions and the amount of defoliation caused by insect pests.

“The Crop Protection Network hopes this new tool can help people make the most accurate estimations possible,” said Daren Mueller, extension plant pathologist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and co-director of the Crop Protection Network. “We want to offer as many tools as possible to help with scouting efforts and ultimately help make the best management decisions.”

Using expert information and interactive activities, the new tool presents several common diseases, along with a corresponding visual trainer and self-practice opportunities for assessing injury caused by each disease.

The Crop Protection Network is a multi-state and international collaboration of university and provincial extension specialists and public and private professionals who provide unbiased, research-based information to farmers and agricultural personnel. The goal of CPN is to communicate relevant information that will help professionals identify and manage field crop diseases and other crop production/protection issues.

Biofuels Vision 2020 Announces Ad Blitz on EPA Threat to Iowa Biofuels, Farms

In the run up to the November election, Biofuels Vision 2020 is launching a new ad campaign raising the alarm over a major regulatory threat to the economic recovery in Iowa. The new sizable, five-figure digital ad buy calls on Iowa voters to share their concerns about the Trump administration’s track record on biofuels, which has become a major focus of debate in key Midwest races for the House, Senate, and the presidency. The display and social media ads will appear in heavy rotation over the next three weeks, highlighting that “rural America is under siege by Trump’s EPA” and calling on the president to keep his promises to Iowa corn and soybean farmers.

“Rural communities face historic economic hardship in the wake of COVID-19, trade wars, and years of regulatory abuse,” said Biofuels Vision 2020 member Daryl Haack, a corn farmer in Primghar, Iowa and member of the board of Little Sioux Corn Processors. “We are not going to sit idly by and watch the Trump EPA sabotage the very foundation of our rural recovery. Iowans can’t afford to pay the price for any more backdoor handouts to well-connected oil companies.”

The issue has taken on new urgency after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began considering a new round of retroactive oil company exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), vastly expanding a controversial practice that has already destroyed demand for more than four billion gallons of homegrown biofuels, made from Iowa farm crops like soybeans and corn. Just this month, the EPA confirmed six new petitions from refiners seeking to skirt obligations under the RFS – bringing the total to 86, including 58 retroactive exemption requests. 

“There’s no reason President Trump can’t fix this well before November, when Iowa voters will decide whether or not he really cares about rural America,” added Haack. “We’re not asking for anything unreasonable – just keep your promise and follow the law. The era of demand destruction has to end now, so Iowa biofuel plants can reopen and farm families can focus on rebuilding the agricultural supply chain.”

The retroactive “gap-year” exemptions are designed specifically to help oil companies evade limits on the EPA handouts set down by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Opposition to the maneuver has been strong and swift among Midwest governors, farm and biofuel leaders, senators, House lawmakers, and other concerned farmers.

Growth Energy Statement on Senate Action on Biofuel Relief

Today, Growth Energy issued the following statement on the Senate language for the next round of COVID-19 relief, which included biofuels producers as eligible entities under the recently released agriculture assistance program.

“This is a good first step towards healing the damage wrought by COVID-19, but falls short of providing the necessary clarity that would have been provided in Senators Ernst, Grassley and Klobuchar's proposed language," said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. "The next critical step in a final agreement between House and Senate is to provide additional certainty around the nature of biofuel industry relief to ensure our producers have access to this much needed assistance. Our fight is far from over, especially with the number of retroactive refinery exemption applications continuing to rise and COVID-19 depressing trade to our key ethanol markets abroad. It’s encouraging to know that we have House and Senate leaders in our corner who understand that protecting America’s biofuel workforce now is vital to rebuilding our nation’s agricultural supply chain and markets for American farmers.”

NCBA Addresses Checkoff Referendum Petition

Today, NCBA President Marty Smith, a Florida cattle producer, released the following statement about the Beef Checkoff referendum petition launched in July.

“In the 1980s, NCBA was instrumental in the initial passage of the Beef Promotion and Research Act and the resulting referendum that established the Beef Checkoff as we know it today. The Act makes it very clear that cattle producers have a say in the continuation of the checkoff through a grassroots petition process.

“NCBA fully supports the producers’ right to have their voices heard on the future of the checkoff. However, we also believe the petition and signature gathering processes should be transparent and conducted with integrity. NCBA trusts cattle producers to make the right decisions for our industry, so if some producers feel they need to sign a petition calling for a vote on the Beef Checkoff, then they should sign. If enough sign, then we should vote. We are confident that a vote by those who invest and direct their hard-earned dollars will again show strong support for this program and will finally allow our industry to put this issue behind us.

“For more than three decades, cattle producers have accomplished great things for the industry by working together to direct these investments. From improvements in beef safety, successful marketing programs to new product development, the Beef Checkoff has a long track record of solid returns for each dollar invested. Beef producers should be proud of that work and we believe that a majority of cattlemen and women stand behind the program.”

Beef Quality Assurance Program Earns Compliance With International Animal Welfare Standards

The Checkoff-funded National Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Program, managed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), is now recognized as an industry-leading animal welfare program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has reviewed and certified that the BQA program complies with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Animal Welfare Management/General Requirements and Guidance for Organizations in the Food Supply Chain. The ISO specification was developed in 2016 to provide a path for programs to show they are aligned with the principles of the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) Terrestrial Animal Health Code and ensures the welfare of farm animals across the supply chain.

“USDA’s affirmation that the program complies with ISO specifications is an important recognition of U.S. cattle producers’ continued commitment to delivering a safe, high quality beef supply while maintaining the highest animal welfare standards,” said Dr. Julia Herman, Beef Cattle Specialist Veterinarian for NCBA. Developed more than 30 years ago, the BQA program has become the industry standard for delivering education and resources to cattle producers. More than 85 percent of the U.S. beef supply today is managed by BQA-certified farmers and ranchers, according to the National BQA Database. By partnering with state programs across the country, the program reaches cattle producers on operations of all sizes, in all corners of the nation, with digital and in-person training and certification.

To earn certification with the animal welfare standards, the BQA program underwent a thorough audit process which evaluated the program’s principles, guidelines and standards across its many resources, including the BQA National Manual and Self-Assessments. This recognition will mean the BQA program is listed on USDA’s Quality Assessment Division website as being compliant with the ISO specification.

“BQA’s recognition by USDA of ISO compliance clearly shows that animal welfare is a top priority for America’s cattle producers and global consumers can rest assured that the American beef they consume is produced in accordance with the highest animal welfare standards in the world,” said Kent Bacus, NCBA senior director of international trade and market access.

Dicamba-Resistant Palmer Amaranth in Tennessee: Stewardship Even More Important

Larry Steckel, University of Tennessee Extension Weed Specialist

Has Palmer amaranth evolved dicamba resistance in Tennessee?  Results from some of the greenhouse experiments this winter and spring as well as in field research this growing season would suggest that our state now has dicamba-resistant (DR) Palmer amaranth. These DR populations are established in Crockett, Gibson, Madison, Shelby, and Warren counties and likely several others.

The level of dicamba resistance is relatively low, about 2.5x. The level of infestation in any given field ranges from a small pocket where a mother plant went to seed in 2019 to an area covering several acres in a field.  This would be comparable to the first documented glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth found in Tennessee back in 2006 where most were still getting relatively good Palmer amaranth control with glyphosate while others were noticing escapes in their fields.

When the Xtend crops first came on the scene it was not uncommon to see a stray Palmer amaranth escape dicamba here and there. These escapes would grow very little if at all for 2 or 3 weeks. Then most would be covered up by the crop never to be seen again.  The DR Palmer amaranth in some fields today however will start growing again in about 10 days and in unprecedented numbers.

Some of the particulars of the research was that DR weed screening in the greenhouse was conducted at the University of Tennessee and the University of Arkansas.  This research revealed that some of the Palmer amaranth that escaped dicamba applications from several fields in 2019 in Tennessee were more than 2x more tolerant to dicamba than Palmer amaranth grown from seed collected over a decade ago in Arkansas and Tennessee. Subsequent greenhouse tests conducted at Texas Tech University showed that a population collected from Shelby County, TN was more than 2.4x more tolerant to dicamba than Palmer amaranth sourced from Lubbock, TX.

Congress Approves Rural Mental Health Bill as Part of Defense Authorization Legislation

The House and Senate recently passed a Farm Bureau-supported measure designed to help farmers respond to stress and decrease the stigma associated with mental health care in rural communities. The Seeding Rural Resilience Act was included in each chamber’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act.

“The recent pandemic, challenging weather, destructive pests, trade disputes, labor shortages and market volatility over the past few years have brought an unprecedented level of pressure on America’s farmers. A 2019 Farm Bureau survey shows that an overwhelming majority of farmers and farmworkers say financial issues, farm or business problems and fear of losing their farm negatively impact their mental health,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in a letter to senators urging them to approve the Seeding Rural Resilience Act as an amendment to the defense authorization bill.

Passage of the bill is part of Farm Bureau’s efforts to reduce the stigma surrounding the topic of mental health in rural communities and to provide relevant information to farm families on this important topic, Duvall added.

The Seeding Rural Resilience Act would create three initiatives to promote mental wellness and mental health awareness in rural America:
-    A farmer-facing employee training program that requires USDA to provide voluntary stress management training to employees at the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency and National Resources Conservation Service.
-    A partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services and USDA to create a $3 million PSA to increase public awareness of farm and ranch stress and destigmatize mental health care in rural communities.
-    Collaboration among state, local and non-governmental stakeholders, led by the secretary of agriculture, to determine best practices for responding to farm and ranch mental stress.

The Seeding Rural Resilience Act was introduced in the Senate last year by Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and in the House by Reps. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), Angie Craig (D-Minn.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.).

The House and Senate must negotiate a single national defense authorization bill before it goes to the president for his signature.

USDA Launches New Features to Help Farmers Hire Workers

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced new features on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) website designed to help facilitate the employment of H-2A workers.

“My mission from the beginning of my time as Secretary was to make USDA the most effective, most efficient, most customer-focused department in the entire federal government – these changes to are doing just that. USDA’s goal is to help farmers navigate the complex H-2A program that is administered by Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department so hiring a farm worker is an easier process,” said Secretary Perdue. “President Trump knows how essential these workers are to our farmers and America’s food supply chain. We will continue working to streamline these and other processes to better serve our customers across the country.”

The primary new H-2A features on include:
-    A real-time dashboard that enables farmers to track the status of their eligible employer application and visa applications for temporary nonimmigrant workers;
-    Streamlining the login information so if a farmer has an existing account they can save multiple applications tracking numbers for quick look-up at any time;
-    Enables easy access to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Foreign Labor Application Gateway (FLAG);
-    Allows farmers to track time-sensitive actions taken in the course of Office of Foreign Labor Certification’s (OFLC) adjudication of temporary labor certification applications;
-    Allowing for farmers to access all application forms on-line.

All information can be found at

KDA Asks Public to Report Receipt of any Unsolicited Packages of Seeds

The Kansas Department of Agriculture has been notified that several Kansas residents have received unsolicited packages containing seeds that appear to have originated from China. The types of seeds in the packages are unknown at this time. The packages were sent by mail; some have been labeled as jewelry and they may have Chinese writing on them. Unsolicited packages of seeds have been received by people in several other states across the United States over the last several days.

If you receive a package of this type, please DO NOT plant these seeds. If they are in sealed packaging, don’t open the sealed package. Instead, please contact KDA’s plant protection and weed control program at 785-564-6698, via email at, or at the complaint reporting portion of the KDA website: report a seed complaint.

Unsolicited seeds could be invasive species, could introduce diseases to local plants, or could be harmful to livestock. Invasive species wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects and severely damage crops. KDA works to prevent the introduction of invasive species and protect Kansas agriculture. 

USGC Virtual Summer Meeting Kicks Off Highlighting Global Market Trends

In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Grains Council kicked off its 60th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting virtually on Monday to help U.S. grain sector leaders assess the challenges affecting their industry and offer reassurance grain exports continue despite disruptions.

The meeting began on an encouraging note from USGC Chairman Darren Armstrong, a farmer from North Carolina, who reviewed the current marketing year’s top five markets for U.S. corn – Mexico, Japan, Colombia, South Korea and China, respectively – and the top three markets for U.S. sorghum – China, Mexico and Japan.

“At this virtual meeting, we gather to discuss issues facing our industry and explore future demand,” Armstrong said. “While the current domestic demand situation is challenging, the export outlook has bright spots to share, and I’m happy to report that corn, sorghum, barley, co-products and ethanol are still moving to our partners overseas.”

Armstrong was followed by Dr. David Kohl, president of AgriVisions, an agriculture consulting business, and professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, who assessed the pandemic’s effect on the commodities market and what attendees should expect to see as the situation evolves.

"There are a few things that should be on the grain industry's radar - the economic health of the protein sector and our trading partners, the weather, the value of the U.S. dollar and consumer trends," Kohl told attendees. "Our business model of the future relies on us to be resilient, agile, entrepreneurial and with a strong business IQ."

"We must find ways to manage the controllable elements and continue to manage around the uncontrollable elements during this time," he added.

StoneX Group Chief Commodities Economist Arlan Suderman later offered market insights on global macro-economic trends and their implications on the ethanol industry sorely affected during this time. He covered a review of global commodity markets, key indicators to watch and the state of the U.S.-China Phase One agreement.

"Price is a function of supply and demand as modified by the flow of money," said Suderman. "The money is chasing the assets that have the best opportunities to recover."

Monday's afternoon sessions are to include breakouts of the Council’s six membership sectors. On Tuesday, the Council will hold its Board of Delegates meeting to conduct Council business, hold elections for various open leadership positions and hear from Council President and CEO Ryan LeGrand as well as outgoing and incoming chairmen, Armstrong and Illinois farmer, Jim Raben, respectively.

Taking advantage of the virtual meeting platform, staff members from the Council’s overseas offices will be available Tuesday afternoon for questions and answers in an informal session called “Connecting With Your Global Staff.”

The meeting will wrap up on Wednesday with virtual Advisory Team meetings in the morning and a closing general session in the afternoon. Ambassador Craig Allen, president of the U.S – China Business Council, will speak on the state of the U.S.-China trade relationship, and former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Sharon Bomer Lauritsen will share an update on agricultural trade policy opportunities and challenges.

“Throughout this extraordinary time, U.S. farmers have never stopped working and neither has the U.S. Grains Council,” Armstrong said to members in his opening remarks.

“Because of our presence in markets around the world, we anticipated the challenges and we’ve been able to shift our operations to ensure U.S. grain farmers and agribusinesses can continue to provide what our customers need. As we look forward and continue to adjust to emerging circumstances, we appreciate the deep engagement of our farmer and agribusiness members.”

More from the meeting is available using hashtag, #grains20.  

USDA Announces a Third Round of Farmers to Families Food Box Program Purchases

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will launch a third round of Farmers to Families Food Box Program purchases with distributions to occur beginning by September 1 with completion by October 31, 2020. The purchases will spend the balance of $3 billion authorized for the program. So far, over 46 million Farmers to Families Food Boxes have been invoiced and delivered.

“This third round of Farmers to Families Food Box Program purchases is a testament to the great work done by vendors in support of American agriculture and the American people. It is also a testament that the program is accomplishing what we intended – supporting U.S. farmers and distributors and getting food to those who need it most. It’s a real trifecta, which is why we call it a win-win-win,” said Secretary Perdue. “The efforts of everyone involved form the backbone of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program and its goal to help fill the hunger gap in all of our communities.”

“The Farmers to Families Food Box Program has created a tangible link between hungry families and struggling farmers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump. "Through this third round of Farmers to Families Food Box purchases announced today, the Trump Administration continues its steadfast commitment to supporting our farmers, bolstering our workforce and feeding families most in need during this critical time.”

In this third round of purchases, USDA plans to purchase combination boxes to ensure all recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk, and meat products.

Eligibility in the third round will be open to entities who can meet the government’s requirements and specifications. Proposals will be expected to illustrate how coverage will be provided to areas identified as opportunity zones, detail subcontracting agreements, and address the “last mile” delivery of product into the hands of the food insecure population.

A notice explaining the solicitation process will be issued in the days to come with a webinar and other educational opportunities provided for those interested in participating.

In the ongoing second round of purchasing and distribution, which began July 1 and will conclude Aug. 31, 2020, USDA aims to purchase up to $1.47 billion of food for the program. For the second round, USDA extended contracts of select vendors from the first round of the program worth up to $1.27 billion. Some contracts were not extended at the vendors’ request or reduced based on information provided by the contractor. Additionally, in the second round, USDA approved up to $202 million in new contracts, via a new acquisition activity, with select vendors whose offers were not previously accepted due to various issues in their proposals. These distributors were selected to increase the focus on Opportunity Zones in order to direct food to reach underserved areas, places where either no boxes have yet been delivered, or where boxes are being delivered but where there is additional need.

The first round of purchases totaling more than $947 million occurred from May 15 through June 30, 2020.

More information about the third round of food box purchasing will be made available on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program website at 

Dairy Defined: How the Fight Against “Bogus Butter” Changed the World

National Milk Producers Federation

They called it “Butterine,” and it was the “innovation” of its times. But it was an imposter. Dairy fought its labeling chicanery, with outcomes that have benefited consumers ever since.  That’s why everyone should remember – and be thankful for -- the Butter Act.

Sunday, Aug. 2, is the anniversary of what was officially named the Oleomargarine Act, signed by President Grover Cleveland in 1886. The product of heated Congressional debate, what became remembered as the Butter Act of 1886 created what to this day remains the only standard of identity for a food product set by Congress rather than regulators.

It was also a precursor to the food-safety system that protects U.S. consumers to this day.
Context: In 1886, the United States was living in the Wild West, literally – the Gunfight at the OK Corral had happened only five years earlier. The food arena’s Wild West was marked by an utter absence of consumer protections from sometimes-deadly food swindles. Honest dairy farmers struggled to protect their reputations from unscrupulous makers of products like “swill milk” – concoctions heavily adulterated to boost profits – and pathogen-bearing raw milk that sickened families in the days before pasteurization.
Enter margarine. Invented in France in 1869, mass production in the U.S. was quickly dominated by Chicago meatpackers (soon to be immortalized in a famous novel about their manufacturing practices -- “The Jungle,” by Upton Sinclair) who saw a profitable use for previously wasted animal fat. Made cheaply and sold widely, margarine was promoted as a suitable butter substitute, even though its main similarity came from the yellow dye added to make consumers think it was a dairy equivalent.

With no restrictions on marketing claims and no legal definition of what butter was and wasn’t, animal-fat purveyors intentionally blurred the line between butter and “butterine,” sometimes attempting to pass off what dairy advocates called “bogus butter” as real. Dairy farmers worried that, over time, a lack of clear distinction would erode consumer and create a less transparent marketplace. States began passing patchworks of laws regulating, taxing and identifying oleomargarine – sometimes by requiring it to be dyed pink. But as the patchwork proliferated, a national solution was clearly needed.

Congress debated. The list of dairy’s opponents was long, including the meatpackers; industries that didn’t think the government should regulate private economic activity, interstate commerce, agriculture or public health; and newspaper naysayers who wondered why dairy didn’t simply accept “innovation” and found butter disputes faintly ridiculous. In the end, passage was overwhelming and bipartisan, with opposition mostly confined to lawmakers from southern states who argued that defining butter violated “states’ rights.”

Dairy won. And by establishing a role for the federal government in regulating food, consumers won as well -- in ways that would turn out to be much more profound than the simple differences between two products.

Twenty years later, spurred on by “The Jungle” – which exposed deplorable conditions among the same meatpackers who opposed the Butter Act – Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act, the foundation of today’s food-safety regulation. Standards of identity that define what foods are and aren’t became accepted necessities for a fair marketplace. Product formulations became more transparent. And marketing claims that try to peddle one product by inappropriately implying it has the qualities of another were stifled by a federal government now empowered to protect consumers.

At least, when that government chooses to act. While swill milk is gone and the Wild West has been at least somewhat tamed, today’s self-styled “innovators” still try to gain an unfair marketing edge by misleading labeling implying they’re something they’re not. Think plant-based “butters” that are really nothing more than margarines at best. Think artificially concocted liquid mixtures labeled as “milks” that are nutritionally more like a high-school chemistry project than a natural, wholesome food.

With fewer dairy farmers to speak up and a better-funded opposition, the fight for integrity is tougher now than in 1886. But history teaches us the battle’s worth fighting, and the marketplace works better when there is truthful and non-misleading labeling. Are consumers better off today knowing that butter is butter and margarine is margarine? Absolutely. Did margarine find an appropriate place in the market, even though it was no longer called “butterine?” Yes, it did, despite their protestations. And did the federal government, after decades of prodding, do the right thing in protecting product integrity and requiring clear labeling? Obviously, yes again. But none of it happened without sustained, sincere effort and appropriate and effective government action.

Progress often comes via fits, false starts and setbacks. But it happens. On August 2, look in your refrigerator and remember how butter helped change the world. Be thankful for the nineteenth-century crusaders who helped ensure it’s there for you. And remember how our responses to today’s challenges will shape tomorrow’s world. Let’s celebrate the Butter Act and insist the U.S. Food and Drug Administration enforce it against today’s equivalent of yesteryear’s butter imposters.