Monday, August 31, 2020

Monday August 31 Crop Progress + Ag News


For the week ending August 30, 2020, there were 6.9 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 27% very short, 43% short, 29% adequate, and 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 23% very short, 39% short, 37% adequate, and 1% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 5% very poor, 10% poor, 21% fair, 45% good, and 19% excellent. Corn dented was 74%, well ahead of 49% last year, and ahead of 60% for the five-year average. Mature was 11%, ahead of 1% last year and 4% average.

Soybean condition rated 5% very poor, 9% poor, 20% fair, 47% good, and 19% excellent. Soybeans dropping leaves was 16%, ahead of 1% last year and 8% average.

Sorghum condition rated 4% very poor, 8% poor, 31% fair, 32% good, and 25% excellent. Sorghum coloring was 60%, well ahead of 25% last year, and ahead of 53% average. Mature was 2%, near 3% average.

Dry edible bean condition rated 1% very poor, 2% poor, 15% fair, 63% good, and 19% excellent. Dry edible beans setting pods was 94%, equal to last year. Dropping leaves was 31%, well ahead of 9% last year. Harvested was 2%.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 17% very poor, 30% poor, 30% fair, 20% good, and 3% excellent.


Continued dry weather allowed Iowa farmers 6.7 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending August 30, 2020, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Drought conditions and rapidly drying crops are now a concern for most of the State. Field activities included harvesting hay, chopping corn silage and harvesting seed corn. Some farmers have been cleared to mow or disc in their corn damaged by the derecho.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 41% very short, 40% short, 19% adequate and 0% surplus. The State’s topsoil moisture condition deteriorated to 81% short to very short. Subsoil moisture condition rated 37% very short, 40% short, 23% adequate and 0% surplus. The State’s subsoil moisture condition dropped to over three-quarters short to very short.

Corn was 95% in the dough stage or beyond, over 2 weeks ahead of the previous year and 6 days ahead of the 5-year average. Almost three-quarters of the corn crop was in or beyond dent stage, over 2 weeks ahead of the previous year and 1 week ahead of average. The crop seems to be speeding towards maturity with 11% of the crop mature, 18 days ahead of last year and 6 days ahead of average. Corn condition rated 45% good to excellent, a drop of 5 percentage points from the previous week and the lowest level since the week ending October 20, 2013.

Soybeans setting pods were over 2 weeks ahead of last year and 4 days ahead of average at 96%. Soybeans coloring reached 29%. That is the highest percentage of soybeans coloring by August 30 since 2012. Soybean condition fell again this week with the crop now rated 50% good to excellent, the lowest level so far this season.

Alfalfa hay third cutting was 86% complete, almost 3 weeks ahead of last year and 11 days ahead of the 5-year average.

Pasture condition fell 7 percentage points this week to just 16% good to excellent. Many cattlemen have had to begin supplemental feeding of hay due to deteriorating pasture conditions.

Corn, Soybean Good-to-Excellent Condition Ratings Fall Again

U.S. corn and soybean condition ratings continued to fall last week as a flash drought fried crops over a sizeable portion of the Plains and north-central Midwest, USDA NASS said in its weekly Crop Progress report on Monday.

NASS estimated that 62% of the nation's corn crop was in good-to-excellent condition as of Sunday, Aug. 30, down 2 percentage points from 64% the previous week. The crop's current good-to-excellent rating is tied for fifth highest in the past 10 years.  The heat and dryness also pushed corn swiftly toward maturity. Ninety-four percent of corn was in the dough stage as of Sunday, 5 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 89%, and 63% of the crop was dented, 7 percentage points ahead of the average of 56%. Corn mature was estimated at 12%, 2 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 10%.

While corn development was slightly ahead of normal, soybean development continued to run at a near-average pace. Soybeans setting pods was estimated at 95%, just 2 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 93%. Soybeans dropping leaves was estimated at 8%, equal to the five-year average.  Like corn, soybean conditions also declined again last week. NASS estimated that 66% of the nation's soybean crop was in good-to-excellent condition as of Aug. 30, down 3 percentage points from 69% the previous week. The crop's current good-to-excellent rating is still tied for the third highest in 10 years.

Spring wheat harvest continued to make steady progress last week, moving ahead another 20 percentage points to reach 69% complete as of Sunday, bringing it to within 8 percentage points of the five-year average of 77%.


2020 Nebraska Property Tax Changes

J. David Aiken, UNL Professor - NE Extension Water & Agricultural Law Specialist

The Nebraska Unicameral enacted significant property tax relief legislation in the closing days of the 2020 legislative session. The last-minute compromise was negotiated by seven legislators selected by the Speaker. The compromise establishes a refundable state income tax credit of an estimated 6% of the property taxes paid for local schools (excluding property taxes for school bonds and school budget overrides). Taxpayers will be able to claim this credit on next year’s Nebraska state income tax return. For fiscal years (FYs) 2021-22 through 2023-24 (i.e. from       July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2024), the amount available for the refundable state income tax credits will be increased from the $125 million base amount if and only if sales and income tax collections exceed projections and have an annual increase of at least 3.5%. For FY 2024-25 the amount available for the refundable state income tax credit will increase to $375 million. That could lead to refundable state income tax credits of as much as 18% of the property taxes paid to local schools.

Taxpayers can estimate what their refundable credit might be next year by examining a recent property tax statement and multiplying the amount paid to local schools by 6%. Whether the amount of the credit is actually 6% has yet to be determined. Many taxpayers should receive a refund of at least a portion of their property tax income tax credit on next year’s Nebraska state income tax return.

There were many political twists and turns in arriving at the 2020 property tax relief compromise. They include:
school districts opposing proposals to cap school spending increases;
the Governor opposing closing sales tax exemptions to generate additional revenue for property tax relief, significantly lowering the possible magnitude of such relief;
urban school districts opposing changes to the state school aid formula that would have ensured that all school districts would receive some state aid on a per-pupil basis, increasing state aid to rural districts at the expense of urban districts;
rural senators voting against revising the state’s business tax incentive program; and
signature collection to place the proposed 35% solution property tax relief amendment on the November 2020 ballot being called off due to the health risks associated with signature collection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We were at the point of stalemate at the end of the 2019 legislative session and the attempted compromise did not materialize. The “grand bargain” that did materialize this year, which was adopted with 40-42 votes in favor (out of 49), included three major components: (1) the income tax credit for local school property taxes paid; (2) enacting a new state business tax incentive program (the “ImagiNE Nebraska” act) and (3) a state commitment to provide $300 million in state funding for a $2.6 billion national pandemic and disaster response center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The state funding will be provided if sufficient federal and private funds for the pandemic center are received. The UNMC pandemic center would create an estimated 8700 high paying jobs in the Omaha metropolitan area. The holdout rural senators controlled the votes needed to enact the ImagiNE Nebraska act and the UNMC pandemic center funding, which normally would have enough votes for enactment. But the rural holdout senators insisted that their votes were contingent upon enacting significant property tax relief, and in the end, all three programs were enacted as LB 1107.

One attribute of a compromise is that almost no one is completely satisfied with the result. Those who believe that the only acceptable road to property tax relief is to reduce the spending that property taxes fund will be dissatisfied. They will have to take the more challenging route of persuading local school boards to limit or cut school spending when at the same time local parents want their children to have a full range of educational opportunities. Those who want to modify the state school aid formula to ensure that all Nebraska schools receive at least some state aid will need to include the schools in the policy negotiations. The failure to do so this year and last year doomed – in this observer’s opinion – property tax relief proposals modifying the state aid formula. Those wanting greater property tax relief will need to persuade others that closing sales tax loopholes to pay for property tax relief is a good tax policy tradeoff. None of these challenges are easy, which is why those wanting property tax relief should be pleased that the 2020 Unicameral found a way to get it done. Only time will tell whether improved economic conditions will generate sufficient tax revenue to fully fund the property tax credits from here on out.

Sign-up begins Oct. 1st for new LENRD irrigated acres

Landowners within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) boundaries, will have an opportunity to apply for new irrigated acres in some portions of the district this fall.

The LENRD board voted, at their August meeting, to allow up to 295 acre-feet of new stream water depletions for new groundwater irrigation development in the Hydrologically Connected or 10/50 Area.  This is in accordance with their Voluntary Integrated Management Plan.  They also voted to allow up to 2,500 acres of new groundwater irrigation development in the Non-Hydrologically Connected or Non 10/50 Area under the district’s standard variance process.  An approved variance is a requirement for any expansion of irrigated acres in the LENRD, whether from an existing or new irrigation well.

Geographic portions of the district that are eligible to be considered for standard variances are areas that fall within the top three categories of the classification map.  A map of the eligible locations will be available at the LENRD office in Norfolk by Friday, September 4th.  Excluded from consideration for this sign-up period will be any parcel of land located in any Quantity Management Subarea or Phase 3 Area located within the LENRD.

LENRD Assistant Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “The board also approved the scoring sheets used by staff when processing applications and reauthorized use of the Conditions for Approval policy.  In addition, a minimum soil score of 85 must be met for any standard variance to be considered for approval.”

The board established a sign-up period to receive applications for Standard Variances between October 1st, 2020 and October 31st, 2020.  Contact the LENRD for more information or visit:  Application forms will be available online and at the LENRD office beginning October 1st.

Ricketts, Dept. of Agriculture Launch New Branding Program for Products Grown & Made in Nebraska

This morning, Governor Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Steve Wellman announced a new branding program to promote agricultural products grown, raised, and made in Nebraska.  The program, “Nebraska Straight from the Good Life,” will launch with a catalog featuring Nebraska companies and the ag products they export.

For information on the program, and to learn about participating in it, visit

Gov. Ricketts: Nebraska Agriculture

·       From historic flooding to the ongoing pandemic, Nebraska’s agricultural producers and agri-businesses have encountered significant challenges over the past year and a half.
·       One way to give Nebraska ag producers and agribusinesses more opportunities to succeed is to expand international trade.
·       Agricultural exports are already big business in Nebraska.  In 2018, Nebraska exceeded $6.8 billion in ag exports, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
·       The international marketplace is vital for Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses looking for ways to expand trade.
·       A new program from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture gives us more ways to effectively market and promote Nebraska agricultural and food companies to consumers worldwide.
·       Nebraska Straight from the Good Life is the state’s new agricultural branding program.
·       This program places a greater focus on Nebraska companies and products as we promote our state’s number one industry around the world.  Nebraska companies can participate free of charge.  
·       The catalog and website are tools to promote Nebraska products and companies as State teammates travel to meet with international customers and trade officials.  The coronavirus has limited our travels for the past several months, and we can use this new branding program to help us sell products overseas.

Director Wellman: Nebraska Agriculture Branding Program

·       The branding program is open, at no cost, to any and all ag and food companies headquartered in Nebraska or with a significant presence in Nebraska, including companies providing grains, meat, consumer-oriented foods, agricultural equipment, and agricultural services.
·       Participating companies will be given one page each in our new export catalog to market themselves and their products.  There’s room for photos, company history, products offered, contact information for sales people, markets served, etc.
·       Participating companies will also be allowed to use the Straight from the Good Life program logo on their products, packaging, and marketing.
·       The product catalog shows the diversity of Nebraska agriculture and enables customers to learn more about Nebraska ag and food products.
·       NDA will use the export product catalog and website to promote participating Nebraska companies and their products in international markets.  All participating companies will get equal exposure and opportunities.  The export catalog will also be distributed to overseas customers looking for agricultural goods, equipment, and services.
·       NDA has been reaching out to Nebraska companies this spring and summer and has over 30 companies currently enrolled, each with their own entry in the program export catalog.
·       We are looking to add more companies.
·       Printed and digital versions of the catalog will be available and will be a quick way of showing customers the breadth of ag and food products Nebraska has to offer.
·       For more information, or to list a product in the Straight from the Good Life catalog, go to
·       NDA hopes to make the Straight from the Good Life program available to other Nebraska agencies to use for promotional ventures.  

Visit to learn about it today.

Extension schedules next Know Your Numbers, Know Your Options record-keeping course

The next session of “Know Your Numbers, Know Your Options,” Nebraska Extension’s four-part record-keeping course, will be held virtually on Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon Central time, beginning Sept. 18.

Participants should plan on attending each of the four workshop dates, which also include Sept. 25, Oct. 2 and Oct. 9. The course requires participants to have an internet connection.

This course is designed to help farmers and ranchers understand their current financial position and how big decisions like large purchases, new leases or changes in production will affect their bottom line. Participants will work through the financial statements of a case study farm, watching pre-recorded videos, completing assignments, and participating in video chats. Upon completion of this program, participants will have a better understanding of how financial records can be used to make decisions and confidently discuss their financial position with their family, business partners, and lenders.

The course fee is $20 per participant and class size is limited to 20 people. Register by Sept. 15 at

This course is hosted by Nebraska Extension and made possible by Annie's Project, which is supported by Farm Credit Services of America in Nebraska. This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2019-77028-30436.

Register now for webinar series on uncertainty, risk and international trade

Nebraskans will have a rare chance this fall to get an inside look at what is driving current challenges in international trade through a webinar series hosted by the Clayton Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln with support from the CME Group Foundation.

The six-part series, titled “International Trade: Measuring and Managing Risk and Uncertainty,” runs from Sept. 14 through Oct. 9. All webinars are free and open to the public.  

Recent shocks, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S.-China trade war, and the collapse of the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body, have resulted in new risks to supply chains, agricultural markets, and the multilateral trading system. This series will examine how to interpret these risks and explore ways to manage them in order to move the system toward a better, more secure future.  

Sessions will feature leading experts from industry and academia, including former trade negotiators and recent White House advisors.

“The speakers in this series are joining us from three continents and all of them are on the leading edge of measuring risk or explaining trade policy because they have shaped it themselves at the highest levels of government,” said Jill O’Donnell, director of the Yeutter Institute. “I encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about trade to tune in and ask questions.”  

Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom will open the series on Sept. 14 at noon CDT with a keynote address titled “Uncertainty Shocks: Measuring the Implications for International Trade and Economic Growth.”  

The full schedule is as follows:
    Sept. 14: Uncertainty Shocks: Measuring the Implications for International Trade and Economic Growth  
    Sept. 16: China’s Industrial Subsidies: What Can be Done?   
    Sept. 21: Managing Risk in Agricultural Trade    
    Sept. 25: The Special (Trade) Relationship: U.S.-UK Negotiations  
    Sept. 29: U.S. Trade Negotiations: Is the Phased Approach Here to Stay?   
    Oct. 9: WTO Dispute Settlement: Is There a Future for the Appellate Body?  

Webinar audience members will have the opportunity to submit questions. Advance registration for each webinar is required. All sessions will last 60 minutes. To view all events in this webinar series and to register, click here.

The program is approved for 5 hours of Continuing Legal Education credit.  

As events have moved online, this webinar series is an adaptation of the biennial CME Group Foundation Symposium of the Yeutter Institute.  

The vision of Husker alumnus and renowned trade expert Clayton Yeutter, the Yeutter Institute connects academic disciplines related to law, policy, business and agriculture in order to prepare students for leadership roles in international trade and finance, support interdisciplinary research and increase public understanding of these issues.

To learn more about the institute, visit  

 Fischer Applauds Taiwan Agreement Removing Barriers on American Beef, Pork

Today, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement after Taiwan agreed to remove barriers that limited the export of U.S. beef and pork to the country:

“Taiwan is an important market for our state, and the deal between our countries represents another critical trade victory. It will boost exports of Nebraska beef and pork to Taiwan. I will continue to support agreements that expand market access for Nebraska’s world-class products.”

Taiwan will accept imports of cattle under 30 months old at slaughter. For pork, the country has agreed to international standards for ractopamine residues, having already accepted those standards for beef. These measures will take effect on January 1, 2021.

The U.S. exported $568 million worth of beef to Taiwan last year and $30.3 million worth of pork. Taiwan is the 7th largest market for Nebraska beef.


Amid ongoing impacts from last year’s bomb cyclone, low commodity prices and the COVID-19 pandemic, rural Nebraskans remain optimistic about their current situation and future, according to the 2020 Nebraska Rural Poll.

In 2019, rural Nebraskans were the most optimistic they had been in the history of the Rural Poll, according to Rebecca Vogt, survey research manager. Only slight changes from those levels were seen in the 2020 poll, which was sent to 7,000 rural households across the state in April. Fifty-three percent of respondents believe they are better off than they were five years ago (a slight decrease from 56% last year). This is the second-highest proportion in the poll’s 25-year history. Rural Nebraskans’ optimism about their current situation has been increasing the past seven years as the gap has widened between the proportions saying they are better off than they were five years ago from those saying they are worse off.

In addition, rural Nebraskans remain optimistic about their future. Half of those surveyed believe they will be better off 10 years from now — similar to 52% last year. The proportion saying they will be better off in 10 years has always been greater than the proportion saying they will be worse off. In fact, the gap between the two has gradually widened since 2013.

“Rural Nebraskans have endured a number of hardships over the past several years,” said L.J. McElravy, associate professor of youth civic leadership at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. “If we look back to the Great Recession, major weather events, economic challenges and now the pandemic, rural Nebraskans have had to bounce back. There may be a growing sense and perhaps realization of resilience across rural Nebraska.”

Rural Nebraskans also have positive views of their communities. Most respondents rate their community as friendly, trusting and supportive and have a positive attachment to it. Most also say it would be difficult to leave their community.

And amid the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic, most rural Nebraskans continue to believe that their community dictates its future prospects. Just over six in 10 of those surveyed (63%) strongly disagree or disagree that their community is powerless to control its own future. Their views about the change in their community have also generally been positive. The proportion believing their community has changed for the better during the past year has usually been greater than the proportion believing it has changed for the worse, especially during the past nine years when the gap between the two has widened. Furthermore, their optimism about the expected change in their community 10 years from now has increased during the past decade. The proportion believing their community will be a better place to live 10 years from now has steadily increased since 2011, when it was 20%, to 28% this year.

Despite the overall optimism across the state, Panhandle residents were less positive about both their community and well-being compared to residents from other regions, similar to findings from the past few years. Just under four in 10 Panhandle residents surveyed (39%) think they will be better off 10 years from now, compared to almost six in 10 residents surveyed in the Southeast region (56%). Moreover, a quarter expect to be worse off 10 years from now. When assessing their current situation, only 37% think they are better off than they were five years ago and 19% believe they are worse off. Their pessimism continues when asked about their community: 34% of Panhandle residents surveyed say their community has changed for the worse during the past year, 30% think their community will be a worse place to live in 10 years and 29% agree that their community is powerless to control its own future.

“We continue to see pessimism in the Panhandle,” said Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel, an extension professor at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff. “Recent data from the 2020 Thriving Index also showed the Panhandle region trailing its peers in other parts of the state. This index identified competitiveness, education, and economic and demographic growth as key challenges for the region. But there is also a silver lining: When it comes to quality of life, the Panhandle ranked quite high.”

The 2020 poll was mailed just after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down many schools and workplaces across Nebraska and disrupted agriculture and other industries. It is the largest annual poll of rural Nebraskans' perceptions on quality of life and policy issues. This year's response rate was 33%. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 2%. Complete results are available at The university's Department of Agricultural Economics conducts the poll with funding from Rural Prosperity Nebraska and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Behind the scenes at a virtual show

Pioneering a new way to present a farm show wasn't in the cards when Matt Jungmann started on work for the Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days in 2020. But external forces have readjusted the routine for the Farm Progress events manager.

"Creating a virtual farm show that has value to farmers and our exhibitors is important to all of us," Jungmann says. "And this year, more people at Farm Progress are involved in creating a show than, I believe, has happened in a very long time."

The result is the Farm Progress Virtual Experience, which opens its virtual gates on Tuesday, Sept. 15, and runs through Thursday, Sept. 17, with all premiered videos and material available to visitors into 2021.

An important focus for the virtual event, Jungmann says, is that field demonstrations are captured on the show sites where the machines would have run if the show had gone on. The first round of that work wrapped up recently at the Husker Harvest Days show site near Grand Island, Neb., where more than 30 pieces of equipment for handling cattle and making hay did their demonstrations.

"Matt has been focused on providing a view of equipment at work in the field in more detail than ever before," says Don Tourte, a senior vice president at Farm Progress. "He and the camera crew worked hard to attach cameras in key areas of machines so farmers can see just how they work. And that work is continuing as we get ready to premier this virtual show in 2020."

Several GoPro miniature action cameras were attached to each piece of equipment during the demonstration. From attaching the cameras to the tops of cattle chutes as calves were preconditioned, to finding just the right spot behind a mower to show the machine at work. In addition, cameras captured machines from the ground in a more traditional approach and in the air, too, thanks to drone coverage. And that will continue as more machines are captured at the Boone, Iowa, site of the Farm Progress Show ahead of premier day.

"Actually, a farmer watching these videos in the virtual show will get a better look at these machines in action than they would at the real field demos," Jungmann says. "That's the experience we're working to capture."

The Farm Progress Virtual Experience runs Sept. 15-17. The free event will be online at, to learn more about the event and register now, visit

Learn How to Manage Downed Corn During Sept. 2 Webinar

As farmers begin to evaluate the best management options for corn acres with severe derecho damage, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is providing a webinar on Sept. 2 that will address challenges and considerations for those acres that will remain unharvested.

The derecho that traveled through Iowa affected over 3.5 million acres of corn, creating management challenges not typical to Iowa crop fields, especially on such a large scale.

“Areas of the state worst affected by the derecho will have significant acreage where corn is not harvested,” said Mark Licht, assistant professor in agronomy and extension cropping systems specialist at Iowa State.

“Unharvested corn plants create a significant residue management challenge in corn fields across the state,” said Matt Darr, professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State. “This webinar will address key considerations for managing these acres both this fall and next spring with the 2021 crop in mind.”

Attendees will be able to better understand the management options for unharvested fields, including best management practices for using different tillage implements to manage residue, and considerations for these acres going into 2021. Presenters will share information specifically on managing crop residue, cover crops and soil fertility and crop rotation.

Along with Darr and Licht, Prashant Jha, weeds specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will present on crop rotation and volunteer corn management.

The webinar will run from 1-2 p.m. and is intended for row crop farmers in the derecho-affected area, ag service providers and ag retailers and farm managers. Certified crop adviser credits will be available, pending approval. The program will be recorded and available on the Iowa State Crops Team YouTube channel afterward.

Register for the webinar at to receive connection instructions and link. Registration is free but is required to connect.

For more information, contact Meaghan Anderson, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach, at 319-331-0058 or

Virtual Ag Coffee will Discuss Drought and Derecho in West Central Iowa

The drought conditions in west-central Iowa are causing major concerns for both crop and livestock producers. Compounding this situation, the derecho has caused significant damage to crops and infrastructure across the area. To help address those concerns, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will host a Virtual Ag Coffee Meeting Sept. 9 at 9 a.m. This event will be a live webinar presentation with 11 in-person viewing locations across west central Iowa.

The meeting will be split into two segments with Mike Witt, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach, discussing the agronomic impacts of the drought and derecho. Agronomic topics will include strategies and expectations for harvesting downed corn, managing fields that are unharvestable, and considerations for residue and fall cover crops, as well as grain quality and storage issues.

Tim Christensen, farm management specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, will discuss the financial impacts and strategies for fall 2020. Specific farm management topics will include crop insurance conversations, new United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency programs, considerations for handling drought and low yield crops with markets in addition to handling farm stress. The meeting will last approximately 90 minutes.

The event will feature both in-person and virtual discussions. If you do not have internet access or would like to attend the meeting in person rather than from home, there are seats available at 11 county extension offices listed below. The speakers will be live via Zoom and able to answer question during and after the presentation.

Each county office will be limited in their seating due to COVID-19 restrictions. Pre-registration is required for in-person attendance, and is on a first-come basis. Walk-ins will not be accepted unless confirmed by individual county offices the day of the meeting.

At home or virtual viewing of the meeting can be done by registering at the website This registration will provide a personal link to the meeting.

The following ISU Extension and Outreach county offices are holding the in-person option:
    Audubon County, 608 Market St., Audubon. Pre-register at 712-563-4239.
    Calhoun County, 325 Court St., Rockwell City. Pre-register at 712-297-8611.
    Carroll County, 1205 West U.S. Highway 30, Suite G., Carroll. Pre-register at 712-792-2364.
    Crawford County, 35 South Main St., Denison. Pre-register at 712-263-4697.
    Greene County, 104 W. Washington St., Jefferson. Pre-register at 515-386-2138.
    Guthrie County, 212 State St., Guthrie Center. Pre-register at 641-747-2276.
    Harrison County, 304 East 7th St., Logan. Pre-register at 712-644-2105.
    Ida County, 209 ½ Moorhead Ave., Ida Grove. Pre-register at 712-364-3003.
    Monona County, 119 Iowa Ave., Onawa. Pre-register at 712-423-2175.
    Sac County, 620 Park Ave., Sac City. Pre-register at 712-662-7131.
    Shelby County, 906 Sixth St., Harlan. Pre-register at 712-755-3104.

Due to COVID-19 and ISU Extension and Outreach’s commitment to doing its best to keep the community safe, certain restrictions and requests will be required to attend the in-person meetings. Please do not attend in person if you are sick or have been exposed to anyone in the past 14 days who has tested positive for COVID-19. Meetings will be held at indoor venues and social distancing requirements will apply. Seating will be limited and pre-registration for these seats is required. Pre-registration is requested at least one day prior to the meeting by contacting the county extension office preferred above, to allow staff to prepare the venue. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis and walk-ins may not be accepted. Attendees are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering when in the presence of others if unable to maintain a six-foot physical distance.

For questions about the meetings, contact Mike Witt at 641-430-2600 or, or Tim Christensen at 515-493-8232 or

Alltech supports farmers with donations to the Iowa Derecho Devastation Relief Fund

In the aftermath of the derecho, the extreme weather event that devastated several communities across Iowa on August 10, Alltech has established the Iowa Derecho Devastation Relief Fund to match donations dollar for dollar and provide goods and services to farmers and their local communities who have been directly impacted.

“This unexpected derecho caused significant destruction in the communities that our customers and colleagues call home,” said Dr. Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech. “Many now face flattened fields and grain bins, significant repair of fencing and much more in the midst of an already difficult year. We hope our Iowa Derecho Devastation Relief Fund provides a boost of support as Iowa’s farming community demonstrates its resilience in recovery.”

Alltech and Hubbard Feeds will be donating the funds raised to the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, the Iowa Pork Producers Association and the Iowa Corn Growers Association, who will ensure that these resources are utilized to aid the rural communities most in need of assistance. The companies are also donating equipment, including tractors and skid steers.

Donations are being collected through the Pearse Lyons ACE Foundation, Alltech’s 501(c)(3) non-profit. Alltech will match donations up to $25,000, and all contributions will go directly toward helping Iowa farmers and the surrounding communities impacted by the derecho. For more information and to donate to the Alltech Iowa Derecho Devastation Relief Fund, visit


Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a national dairy cooperative owned by family farmers, announced today a continued step forward in its commitment to sustainability, as it becomes the first U.S. dairy cooperative to set a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
As a cooperative invested in the dairy supply chain from farm to table, DFA is taking a strong position by setting a science-based target and committing to reduce both direct and value chain greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% by 2030, from a base year of 2018.  By having their targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), DFA is supporting the Paris Agreement’s broader goals to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. Additionally, DFA’s target is aligned with work of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and its goals for the U.S. dairy industry to become carbon neutral or better by 2050.
“Our dairy farm families have always been great stewards of the land and environmentally focused, because it protects the land for future generations,” says David Darr, senior vice president and chief strategy and sustainability officer at DFA. “While the entire dairy industry from farm to manufacturer only contributes about 2% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, we know it’s imperative to keep doing better and making improvements. So, we’re proud to take action and set this science-based target, which will help us further reduce our carbon footprint and do our part in taking care of our planet.”
To reduce climate impact and reach its science-based target, DFA, its businesses and its farm family-owners will work across its supply chain to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on farms, in processing plants and on the road. Key strategies to achieve the target include:
-    Mitigating methane emissions from cows by supporting advances in feed efficiency, herd nutrition and feed additives designed to reduce emissions
-    Using renewable energy methods, such as solar panels and wind power, on our farms and in our plants
-    Utilizing anaerobic digesters, which convert manure and food waste to energy, on farms and in plants
-    Capturing emissions through healthy soil and crops
-    Creating transportation and hauling efficiencies to reduce emissions
-    Exploring innovative technologies and solutions to reduce emissions and promote environmental stewardship

In addition to these efforts, DFA is exploring emerging technologies and working with other industry partners, such as Vanguard Renewables, a Massachusetts-based renewable-energy developer, to benefit our farm family-owners’ operations and reduce GHG emissions.
“We began working with Vanguard a few years ago, and our partnership with them continues to grow, as we think there’s a lot of opportunity to create synergies between our farms and plants,” says Darr. “In addition, we’re also looking at some innovative solutions to reduce food waste with startup companies, so there’s a lot of excitement for how we can continue to accelerate our sustainability initiatives.”
“We congratulate Dairy Farmers of America for becoming the first U.S. dairy cooperative to have its emissions reduction targets approved by the Science Based Targets initiative,” said Alberto Carrillo Pineda, Director, Science Based Targets and Renewable Energy at CDP, one of the Science Based Targets initiative partners. “By setting targets that are grounded in climate science, Dairy Farmers of America is positioning themselves as leaders in their sector and setting themselves up for success in the transition to a net-zero economy.”
The science-based target goal announced today is the latest step in DFA’s commitment to sustainably and responsibly produce milk and other dairy products. Earlier this year, the farmer-owned cooperative released its 2020 Social Responsibility Report, “A Mark of Purpose,” which details its overall sustainability strategy and commitment to the planet, its people and communities.
“On our farms, in our facilities and on the road, our journey to continuously improving our social responsibility efforts takes a holistic approach,” adds Darr. “We are committed to developing solutions that reduce or eliminate carbon emissions, feed people around the world and help communities thrive.”
The Science Based Targets initiative mobilizes companies to set science-based targets and boost their competitive advantage in the transition to the low-carbon economy. It is a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and We Mean Business.

FFAR Grant Evaluates Gene Editing to Improve Heat Resistance in Cattle

More than half of the global cattle population is raised in sub-tropical or tropical environments. In these tropical environments, cattle often undergo heat stress, which decreases milk and meat production. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $748,545 Seeding Solutions research grant to Acceligen, a subsidiary of Recombinetics Inc., to examine how genetic alterations can improve heat resistance in cattle. Semex and Acceligen provided matching research funds for a total investment of $1,497,641.

Cattle, if not adapted to heat, can exhibit an extreme physical reaction to heat stress, including reductions in feed intake and milk production, slowed growth and increased disease susceptibility. These reactions decrease sustainable production and can result in severe illness or even death.

“As global temperatures continue to increase due to climate change, cattle experience heat stress more frequently and more intensely – even in traditionally temperate, non-tropical environments,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Dr. Sally Rockey. “Adapting cattle to withstand the effects of heat stress is critical to ensuring global food security.”

To date, most research to reduce heat stress in cattle has focused on improving housing conditions, using feed additives and other non-genetic interventions. This grant is exploring genetic approaches to reduce heat stress.

Acceligen researchers and collaborators at the University of Florida are focusing on cattle that carry mutations, or gene variants, in the prolactin receptor gene (PRLR) that result in a slick coat or short hair. The shorter hair improves heat tolerance; however, this research further examines the impact of the mutations on molecular, genetic and physiological parameters. One aspect of this project involves employing sophisticated monitoring techniques to detect molecular differences emanating from the liver to identify key molecules for controlling metabolism prior to the onset of heat stress. This information could result in development of more effective feed additives to ease seasonal heat stress caused by climate change in temperate zones.

Additionally, scientists at Acceligen and Semex are using gene editing to introduce the mutations into both elite beef and dairy cattle to study an animal’s ability to adapt to extreme heat and humidity. After the edits are introduced, the productivity and well-being of the precision-bred cattle will be compared to those that do not carry any PRLR edits. By introducing these naturally occurring gene variations into non-adapted breeds, researchers can better understand how to control heat stress and ultimately improve animal health, well-being, fertility and economic return for producers.

“Tropically adapted cattle from the Caribbean Basin have provided us a naturally occurring trait that we can leverage to reduce the carbon footprint of cattle globally,” said Tad Sonstegard, the principal investigator of this research. “We believe this is an exceptional opportunity to contribute innovative solutions to food security challenges related to animal protein.”

National Institute for Animal Agriculture to host 10th annual antibiotic symposium

Animal, human and environmental health leaders gather to explore insights and derive solutions using the One Health approach to responsible antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance.

Manhattan, Kans. - During its 10th annual symposium, the National Institute for Animal Agriculture will convene leaders from the animal health, human health and environmental health spaces to discuss, learn and collaborate on the latest research and knowledge about responsible antibiotic use and practices to combat antimicrobial resistance. The 10th Annual NIAA Antibiotic Symposium is themed, Humans, Animals and the Planet … Vital for our Future and will continue to be the leading One Health symposium in the nation. The Symposium will be hosted virtually, November 2-4.

The first Symposium was convened in 2011 with a goal for animal health and human health experts to share science‐based information so an honest dialogue can ensue. Ten years later, the dialogue continues and is just as pertinent as ever. The 2020 Symposium will celebrate the successes that have been achieved as leaders from across the human, animal and environmental spectrum have, together, become better stewards of antibiotics while also worked to combat antimicrobial resistance. The Symposium has long viewed antibiotic stewardship and the combating of antimicrobial resistance as a journey of continuous improvement and the 10th annual Symposium will follow this model.

During the 2020 sessions, participating leaders will explore research and insights with conversations facilitated by the Symposium planning committee. Facilitators include:
    Dr. Andy King, Iowa State University Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication
    Dr. Heather Fowler, National Pork Board
    Dr. Michael Costin, American Veterinary Medical Association
    Dr. Megin Nichols, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    Dr. Paul Plummer, National Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education
    Dr. Leah Dorman, Phibro Animal Health
    Dr. Eric Moore, Norbrook, Inc.

The 2020 Symposium - Humans, Animals and the Planet ... Vital for our Future, will feature updates on the latest research on antibiotic stewardship, antimicrobial resistance and alternatives within human, animal - both farm and companion, and environmental health. Leaders participating in the Symposium also will receive updates on global issues affecting U.S. animal agriculture and engage in conversations about how to better share information on antibiotic stewardship and antimicrobial resistance with a variety of audiences.

To register for the 10th Annual NIAA Antibiotic Symposium and see the full agenda, visit .   

USDA Extends Free Meals for Kids Through December 31, 2020

Today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will extend several flexibilities through as late as December 31, 2020. The flexibilities allow summer meal program operators to continue serving free meals to all children into the fall months. This unprecedented move will help ensure – no matter what the situation is on-the-ground – children have access to nutritious food as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA has been and continues to be committed to using the Congressionally appropriated funding that has been made available.

“As our nation reopens and people return to work, it remains critical our children continue to receive safe, healthy, and nutritious food. During the COVID-19 pandemic, USDA has provided an unprecedented amount of flexibilities to help schools feed kids through the school meal programs, and today, we are also extending summer meal program flexibilities for as long as we can, legally and financially,” said Secretary Perdue. “We appreciate the incredible efforts by our school foodservice professionals year in and year out, but this year we have an unprecedented situation. This extension of summer program authority will employ summer program sponsors to ensure meals are reaching all children – whether they are learning in the classroom or virtually – so they are fed and ready to learn, even in new and ever-changing learning environments.”

“School Nutrition Association greatly appreciates USDA addressing the critical challenges shared by our members serving students on the frontlines these first weeks of school. These waivers will allow school nutrition professionals to focus on nourishing hungry children for success, rather than scrambling to process paperwork and verify eligibility in the midst of a pandemic." said School Nutrition Association (SNA) President Reggie Ross, SNS. "We look forward to continuing our dialogue with USDA to ensure school meal programs are equipped to meet the future needs of America’s students.”

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is extending a suite of nationwide waivers for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) through the end of 2020, or until available funding runs out. This includes:
    Allowing SFSP and SSO meals to be served in all areas and at no cost;
    Permitting meals to be served outside of the typically-required group settings and meal times;
    Waiving meal pattern requirements as necessary; and
    Allowing parents and guardians to pick-up meals for their children.

Collectively, these flexibilities ensure meal options for children continue to be available so children can access meals under all circumstances. USDA is taking this unprecedented action to respond to the needs of its stakeholders, who have shared concerns about continuing to reach those in need without enlisting the help of traditional summer sites located throughout communities across the US. While there have been some well-meaning people asking USDA to fund this through the entire 2020-2021 school year, we are obligated to not spend more than is appropriated by Congress.

Importantly, the summer meal program waiver extensions announced today are based on current data estimations. Over the past six months, partners across the country have stood up nearly 80,000 sites, handing out meals at a higher reimbursement rate than the traditional school year program. USDA has continuously recalculated remaining appropriated funds to determine how far we may be able to provide waivers into the future, as Congress did not authorize enough funding for the entire 2020-2021 school year. Reporting activities are delayed due to States responding to the pandemic; however based upon the April data we currently have available, FNS projects that it could offer this extension, contingent on funding, for the remaining months of 2020. USDA will continue to actively monitor this rapidly evolving situation and continue to keep Congress informed of our current abilities and limitations.

Since the start of the public health emergency, FNS has been maximizing existing program services and flexibilities to ensure those in need have access to food through our 15 federal nutrition assistance programs. To date, USDA has provided more than 3,000 flexibilities across these programs. USDA has also leveraged new and innovative approaches to feeding kids, including a public-private partnership that provided nearly 40 million meals directly to the doorsteps of low-income rural children. For more information on FNS’ response to COVID-19, visit

Valent U.S.A. Opens New Innovation Center in Northern California

Valent U.S.A. has opened a new state-of-the-art facility in San Ramon, called the North American Innovation Center (NAIC), that physically unites employees from its California technical center in Dublin and headquarters in Walnut Creek. The nearly 100,000 square-foot hub for research and development and headquarter operations for North America is custom-designed to enhance collaboration and innovation. The new site will allow Valent U.S.A. to bring sustainable agriculture solutions and professional products to market with greater speed and effectiveness.  

A subsidiary of Sumitomo Chemical, Valent U.S.A. provides unique biorational and traditional grower-focused crop protection solutions for both row and specialty crops in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Valent also develops products for professional turf, ornamental and aquatic uses and has maintained operations in the Bay Area for more than 30 years. Its investment in the NAIC is expected to generate immediate efficiencies and long-term savings, while advancing a research pipeline for future innovations.  

“We’ve brought the diversity, skills and expertise of our laboratory scientists and regulatory, marketing, finance and operations people together under one roof,” said Matt Plitt, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Valent U.S.A. “It’s now easier for our newly centralized team to share information in real time, even face to face, which will boost our efficiency, agility, creativity and, ultimately, benefit the farmers in the field.”

The eco-friendly design of the North American Innovation Center (NAIC) is focused on sustainable practices, including energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality. Outfitted with advanced safety systems and equipment, and key safeguards in response to COVID-19, the NAIC reflects the company’s commitment to sustainability and providing a safe and healthy work environment for employees. In addition to cutting-edge research labs and modern offices, the facility houses 47 conference, project, huddle and focus rooms. The NAIC opened August 3, 2020.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Friday August 28 Ag News

 NDEE’s Return to Compliance Process

To make compliance easy, the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy has created this document, “A Guide to NDEE’s Return to Compliance Process.”

This document outlines recent updates NDEE has made to its Return to Compliance (RTC) process, which includes a new form of correspondence: the Letter of Non-Compliance (LNC). In addition to explaining the new LNC, this document also highlights our Compliance Assistance program and answers questions such as:
-    Why change to the Letter of Non-Compliance?
-    How can I be proactive when it comes to environmental regulations?
-    How does the streamlined Return to Compliance process work?

Because violations can be found during inspections and surveys, NDEE has also created a guidance document titled “Inspection Tips for Regulated Facilities” to help facilities prepare for inspections.

With this change, NDEE hopes to bring consistency, fairness, and transparency to the inspection and Return to Compliance processes.

If you have any questions or comments about the Return to Compliance process or the attached documents, you may reach out to one of our inspectors or call NDEE’s front desk at (402) 471-2186.  There's also more information here....  

LENRD board votes to begin new irrigated acre sign-up on October 1st

At their August meeting, the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Board of Directors voted to establish a sign-up period to receive applications for Standard Variances, for new irrigated acres, between October 1st, 2020 and October 31st, 2020.

LENRD Assistant Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “Geographic portions of the district that are eligible to be considered for standard variances are areas that fall within the top three categories of the classification map.  A map of the eligible locations will be available at the LENRD office in Norfolk by Friday, September 4th.”

Excluded from consideration for this sign-up period will be any parcel of land located in any Quantity Management Subarea or Phase 3 Area located within the LENRD.  Applications will be available online and at the office beginning October 1st.

After discussing the drought conditions across the district, the board authorized an additional two acre-inches per acre for any irrigation well subject to an Annual Groundwater Allocation in the LENRD Quantity Management Subarea.

In other action, the board instructed staff to provide a letter of support as part of a grant application to the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) for the establishment of a UNL Testing Ag Performance Solutions (TAPS) demonstration site within the Bazile Groundwater Management Area (BGMA), and to devote up to $1,000 in financial assistance to the effort, contingent on approval of the grant request.  The demonstration sites recruit local producers who select from a menu of management decisions intended to help maximize input use efficiency.

Earlier this summer, the LENRD received Watershed Flood Prevention and Operations (WFPO) funding from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to complete the Maple Creek Watershed Plan which will evaluate potential flood prevention, watershed protection, and agricultural water management projects.  The board voted to sign a contract with FYRA Engineering, LLC to complete the Maple Creek WFPO Plan and Environmental Assessment.

LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “This plan aims to reduce overall flood risk potential and support the largely agricultural economy in the Maple Creek Watershed.  With the help of the WFPO funding, this project will surpass previous planning efforts by focusing on the entire area, where previous studies have been smaller in scope.”  He added, “We are looking forward to working with FYRA to further define the need for potential flood reduction projects to protect the watershed.”  Four communities are located within the Maple Creek Watershed:  Leigh, Clarkson, Howells, and Nickerson.

The board also voted to work with a landowner in Stanton County to obtain a well permit for an illegal well.  If all required documentation is provided, staff will issue the permit, but the cease and desist order shall remain in place for 5 years, expiring on July 25, 2025.  The 5-year limitation is consistent with the LENRD’s past enforcement of rule violations.

In other business, the board voted to approve the updates to the average cost dockets for the Agroforestry and Conservation Cost-share Programs as recommended by the staff.  They also voted to hold their fiscal year Budget Hearing at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 10th at the LENRD office in Norfolk.

The LENRD board & staff meet each month to develop and implement management plans to protect our natural resources for the future.  The next LENRD board meeting will be Thursday, September 24th at 7:30 p.m.  Watch for further updates and stay connected with the LENRD by subscribing to their monthly emails.


An upcoming Nebraska Extension webinar will discuss the factors going into cow-calf producer decisions on whether to retain cattle to feedlots or keep cattle for backgrounding.

“Ownership Retention Decisions: Is the Market Willing to Pay?” will be presented on Thursday at noon by Elliott Dennis, assistant professor of livestock marketing and risk management, and Jay Parsons, professor and extension farm and ranch management specialist, both in the Department of Agricultural Economics. The presentation is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The webinar is part of an ongoing weekly series produced by the extension Farm and Ranch Management Team in the Department of Agricultural Economics. It will be held live on Zoom for approximately one hour, including time for questions from participants.

Registration is free and can be completed at

Nebraska Ethanol Board September 10th board meeting to be held in Grand Island

The Nebraska Ethanol Board will meet in Grand Island at 10:00 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 10. The meeting will be in the community meeting room at Bosselman Enterprises Headquarters (1607 S. Locust St.). The agenda highlights include:
    Budget Report
    Fuel Retailer Update
    E30 Demonstration Update
    Renewable Fuels Nebraska Update
    Lowering Ethanol's Carbon Intensity
    Marketing Programs
    State and Federal Legislation
    Ethanol Plant Reports
This agenda contains all items to come before the Board except those items of an emergency nature.

 Fundraisers planned for Nexus groundbreaking at Northeast Community College

Two fundraising activities are planned in conjunction with groundbreaking ceremonies for new agriculture facilities at Northeast Community College.

Ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 10, near the Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex, 2301 E. Benjamin Ave. in Norfolk. A live event is planned, along with virtual ceremonies and livestreaming. Those attending will be encouraged to text a donation of any amount to the Nexus campaign.

The text-to-give option will be available for a limited time, beginning Sept. 3. To take part, text the word “ag” to (402) 383-FARM (3276). Donations will also be accepted by voice phone at (402) 844-7653.

“Every gift is needed and sincerely appreciated,” said Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation. “All gifts of $500 or more will be recognized on the formal donor wall, but we also want those who contribute a smaller amount to be remembered by the generations of students who will learn in these buildings.”

To provide recognition for gifts of $50 or more, a farmscape wall has been designed and will be located in one of the new buildings. Small, medium and large animal silhouettes to fill the farmscape will be on sale for donations of $50, $100 or $250 respectively. Donors will be able to choose a chicken, pig, cow or horse for their donation, and each silhouette will be engraved with the donor’s name, up to 20 characters.

Animal silhouettes may also be ordered online at or by texting “animal” to (402) 383-FARM (3276). For information on multiple purchases or family groupings, call (402) 844-7240. Space on the farmscape is limited, so those wishing to be recognized in this way are urged to order their animals as soon as possible.

“Agriculture is the lifeblood of our area and these two-ways to give allow everyone the chance to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers and of agribusiness employees,” Kruse said. “Students in these programs tend to stay in this area helping keep our rural communities vital and growing.”

The initial phase of construction on the Nexus project includes a new veterinary technology clinic and classrooms, a new farm site with a large animal handling facility and other farm structures for livestock operations, a farm office and storage. The new facilities will be located near the Pohlman Agriculture Complex. Construction should be completed by fall 2021.

Funding for the $22.3 million improvement to the agriculture facilities will come from the College’s commitment of $10 million, as well as external fundraising to fill the gap. The College has raised enough funds to begin construction; however, fundraising for the Nexus campaign will continue, as more is needed for equipment, technology and furnishings.

Husker Harvest Days Goes Virtual, Nebraska Extension Providing Multiple Presentations

Ron Seymour - NE Extension Educator

Nebraskans are quite creative in developing successful endeavors, particularly in times of need. With a struggling farm economy and the unknowns of the spread of viral infections, there is special emphasis on cultivating new opportunities to improve the lives of Nebraskans. Personnel with Nebraska Extension are uniquely positioned to help provide knowledge to people to cultivate these new opportunities.

Husker Harvest Days (HHD) has traditionally provided a venue for Nebraska Extension to connect with Nebraskans to discuss new developments in agriculture. Even though the face-to-face program has been cancelled, the Farm Progress Virtual Experience will provide an opportunity to learn about these developments in a number of topic areas that may be accessed at Nebraska Extension will be participating in this program with the theme: Knowledge that Helps Cultivate Opportunities and will be accessible at the Extension website.

Nebraska Extension has created several presentation teams that will highlight topics in beef production, cover crops relative to soil health, pest management, water use issues, precision agriculture, and agriculture economic issues. In addition to these topics, lifestyle topics such as home landscapes, leadership development, rural and mental health issues, youth programs in college and career readiness and choosing University of Nebraska agriculture education programs will be presented.

Agriculture Related Presentations

Several Nebraska Extension teams will be providing knowledge to help farmers increase the efficiency of farm production.
    Increasing the performance of beef cattle is essential for the farmers and ranchers of Nebraska, “The Beef State”. The Beef Systems Team will feature a discussion of reproduction and nutrition strategies. Presentations will include considerations for synchronization protocols, how to be flexible in formulating lower cost rations, and alternative systems and feed sources such as small grain silage and crop residues.
    Cover crops also provide an important source of feed for livestock. In addition to providing this resource, there are a number of benefits to the use of cover crops to increase soil health; i.e. erosion reduction, weed suppression, and improved grazing. The Cover Crop/Soil Health Team will feature the use of a tabletop rainfall simulator to compare and contrast soils where best soil health management practices such as the use of cover crops, manure applications, and no-till have been used to those that have not used the practices.
    The use of cover crops is also important in reducing nitrate contamination of ground water thus, maintaining the availability of high-quality water, the driver of agricultural production. The Irrigation and Water Utilization Team will provide further discussion on how producers can make water management decisions that utilize conservation practices to reduce nitrate contamination and to protect the quality of our valuable water resources.
    Exploration of water management and other production techniques can best be accomplished through review of research results. On-farm research is a great way to generate valuable and relevant information to guide future management decisions specific for each farm operation. Members of the Precision Agriculture Team will share how to utilize agriculture technologies on farms to support more data driven decisions which will likely improve farm productivity, profitability, and sustainability.
    Technology on sprayers is one area where there has been considerable change. The Pest Management Team will help program participants sort through the options to increase their understanding of why coverage matters in making a good pesticide application. From technologies like pulse of width modulation, selecting the appropriate nozzles, to picking the best adjuvants, Extension experts can help make sense of it all -- and ensure farmers get the most effective and economical pest control.
    As being discussed by many of the HHD Extension teams, the best use of essential information to make essential decisions is important for all farm operations. The Agricultural Economics Team will help wrap together many of the production team’s topics by highlighting their new website, as a hub to equip decision-makers with information for successful operations. Information will also be provided to assist farmers and ranchers with financial education and analysis through the Nebraska Strong Financial Services program and the Know Your Numbers, Know Your Options workshops.

Quality of Life Related Presentations

While knowledge of production efficiency is one of the keys for successful farms, maintenance of the quality of life and planning for the future of agriculture are also important.
    The environment in which one lives can have a significant impact on quality of life. Trees are important components of the landscape around homes and farms that improve the living environment. The Community Environment Team will provide information about the benefits trees provide for the environment, wildlife, and the people that enjoy them. They will also provide tips on tree selection, planting, and maintenance.
    A good living environment can help maintain a person’s outlook on life. There are additional tools that can be used to help improve this outlook. Farmers, ranchers, and everyone in the agricultural community, including their families need to be equipped with mental health resources and tools to improve wellness and reduce stress. The Rural Family Stress and Wellness Team brings together individuals from a variety of disciplines with complementary knowledge sets to help rural communities in time of need. Information on how to recognize the symptoms of stress, resources on suicide awareness and prevention, and five steps to support your well-being will be highlighted.
    Good community leaders are essential to help Nebraskans navigate life, particularly in difficult times. The Nebraska LEAD Program has been developing agricultural leaders for over 38 years. The program director of the Nebraska LEAD Program will provide information that highlights the importance of developing strong leadership skills.
    Learning life skills is also important for younger students. Equipping Nebraska youth with the skills needed to succeed after high school and empowering them to make decisions about their future is the primary focus of the 4-H College and Career Success Team. The team will share decision making information for youth, in grades 4 through 12, and their parents, with the greatest reach being with high school youth. Program participants will learn how to be better prepared to make higher education and career decisions which increases their ability to positively contribute to their community.
    To complement this information about developing the future of young Nebraskans, the College Recruitment Team, comprised of representatives from the UNL College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CASNR) and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA), will provide information about attending education programs on the Lincoln and Curtis campuses, respectively.

Even though COVID-19 has changed how we do things this year, we have made adjustments that will allow continued education by presenting high quality information in a virtual environment. It is the hope of the Nebraska Extension, CASNR, and NCTA Husker Harvest Days teams that the information being provided will help participants increase their knowledge to help cultivate opportunities and to develop strong solutions to the diverse issues that are facing rural Nebraskans. We invite Nebraskans to participate in the Farm Progress Virtual Experience at where the typical HHD exhibitors including Nebraska Extension will be found. A direct link to Nebraska Extension topics will be available at

Webinar - Cover Crops in Corn Systems: Opportunities for Dual Use

Mary Drewnoski - NE Extension Beef Systems Specialist

Can planting cover crops in corn systems provide the dual benefits of improving soil health and be an economical source of forage? This webinar will cover lessons learned on incorporating cover crops after corn silage, high moisture corn, and dry corn harvest in Nebraska. The session will consist of short presentations with ample time for questions and discussion.

The webinar will be held via Zoom on September 15th from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm (central time). This webinar is free but registration is required to participate.

Register for the Cover Crops in Corn Systems Webinar -  

Webinar Presentations

    Soil impacts of planting oats after corn silage and high moisture corn - Lindsey Anderson, Master student in Agronomy and Horticulture at UNL and pathways intern with NRCS.
    Grazing potential and economics of planting oats after corn silage and high moisture corn - Kallie Calus, Master student in Animal Science at UNL
    Impacts of cover crop management on soil health - Sabrina Ruis, Research Assistant Professor, Agronomy and Horticulture with UNL
    Winter hardy cover crops for spring grazing and silage - Mary Drewnoski, Beef Systems Specialist with UNL

If you have questions about this event, contact Mary Drewnoski (, 402-472-6289).

This webinar and the research discussed was made possible due to funding from Nebraska Environmental Trust, SARE, and USDA-NIFA-AFRI.

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

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

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

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

Applications can be submitted at any time, but to be considered for fiscal year 2021 funding opportunities, applications in Nebraska must be received by October 1, 2020. Applications are currently being accepted for both agricultural land and wetland reserve easements.

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

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

NRCS also provides financial assistance to eligible partners for purchasing agricultural land easements that protect ag land use and conservation values of eligible land. For working farms, the program helps farmers keep their land in agriculture. Agricultural land easements also protect high quality grasslands under threat of conversion to cropping, urban development, and other non-grazing uses.

Applicants will need to provide accurate records of ownership and ensure they have established fiscal year 2021 ownership eligibility with USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). Application information is available at your local USDA Service Center and at

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

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

Hot Beef Sundae Virtual Cooking Contest Results

In light of the cancellation of this year’s Iowa State Fair, Iowa’s beef producers wanted to bring a fair food favorite into beef lovers’ homes and encourage creativity in the kitchen. The Iowa Beef Industry Council teamed up with the Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters to host a Hot Beef Sundae Virtual Cooking Contest for all ages. Entries were accepted online between July 21 and August 4, 2020.

In order for recipes to be considered, they needed to be prepared using 100% real beef. Any cut of beef or combination of ingredients could be included. A list of recipe ingredients, directions and a high-resolution photo of each dish accompanied each entry.

More than 30 creative and drool-worthy entries were gathered from across the state. “We thought hosting this virtual cooking contest would encourage participants to get creative in the kitchen and add their own spin to this fair food staple,” said Kylie Peterson, IBIC Director of Marketing and Communications. “The exciting thing about cooking with beef is there are more than 50 cuts to choose from that all pair perfectly with a variety of spices and flavors, leaving endless opportunities for originality.”

Selection of the first, second and third place winners in each age category and the most creative Hot Beef Sundae were conducted by an anonymous panel of judges. Judging was based on appearance and creativity.

    First Place – Sloppy Joe Sundae by Aaliyah Corcoran
    Second Place – IOWAlicious Hot Beef Sundae by Harris Thorp
    Third Place – You Can Even Eat the Bowl Hot Beef Sundae by Lane Carlson

    First Place – Beefy Banana Split by Julie Petersen
    Second Place – Mike’s Steakhouse Beef Sundae by Mike Moran
    Third Place – Loaded Hot Beef Sundae by Emily Olson

    Winner – Beefy Banana Split by Julie Petersen

First place in each age category received a $100 beef certificate and a free Hot Beef Sundae coupon from the Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters for the 2021 Iowa State Fair. Second place in each age category received a $75.00 beef certificate and a free Hot Beef Sundae coupon from the Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters for the 2021 Iowa State Fair. Third place in each age category received a $50.00 beef certificate and a free Hot Beef Sundae coupon from the Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters for the 2021 Iowa State Fair. The winner of the most creative category received a $100 beef certificate and a free Hot Beef Sundae coupon from the Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters for the 2021 Iowa State Fair.

Check out this year's award-winning Hot Beef Sundae recipes on our website, at


On Friday, Taiwanese President Tsai-Ing-wen said the territory would soon lift restrictions on U.S. pork and beef, paving the way for an eventual free trade agreement with America. Since 2007, Taiwan has denied market access to U.S. pork raised with ractopamine, despite an overwhelming body of scientific evidence that demonstrates the safety of the feed additive. Ractopamine is widely used as a feed ingredient in global beef and pork production. It is approved for use in production by nearly 30 nations and by the CODEX Alimentarius, the international standard-setting organization. Imports of pork raised with ractopamine are accepted by 75 countries. Although ractopamine use by hog farmers is not widespread, it is an option that is safe and acceptable.

The National Pork Producers Council appreciates that Taiwan is indicating it will soon lift all non-tariff barriers to U.S. pork and is grateful for the work of U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the USDA to tear down barriers to U.S. pork exports all over the world. NPPC will continue to defend the right of U.S. hog farmers to use production processes and products that are safe. NPPC opposes government mandates that, with no scientific backing, dictate production practices and unnecessarily increase food prices and inhibit consumer choice.

Sasse Statement on Trade with Taiwan

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, a long-time advocate for Nebraska trade and member of the Senate Finance Committee, issued the following statement after Taiwan’s President announced a proposal to open up Taiwan’s market to American beef and pork products.

“This is great news. Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers are among the hardest workers in the world and they deserve to sell their products across the globe. More Nebraska beef and pork are about to be served at dinner tables all across Taiwan and they will keep coming back for more.”

Conservation Compliance Final Rule Falls Short

Farmers remain powerless in the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation Final Rule made public today by the USDA. The American Farm Bureau Federation advocated for clear rules and safeguards to ensure fair treatment of farmers in conservation compliance, but the final rule does not remedy unfair enforcement by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “After decades without a finalized rule in this area, we finally have one, but unfortunately it falls short.

“Farmers and ranchers are some of the strongest advocates of conservation, as demonstrated by the 140 million acres they’ve voluntarily committed to federal conservation programs. That’s not what this is about. This is about unfair treatment, which we’ve clearly laid out for USDA in previous comments and many meetings, backed by court rulings.

“Farmers deserve a fair process and clarity, including an understanding of the exemptions authorized by Congress. They deserve to be protected from repeated, unjustified, costly decisions by NRCS. Although we appreciate recent actions by USDA to rectify historic wrongs, this was a missed opportunity to ensure fairness going forward.

“We will continue to examine this rule and our options to address its shortcomings.”

Deadline Approaching for USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds farmers and ranchers the deadline to apply for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) is Sept. 11, 2020. This program provides direct relief to producers who faced price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19.

“FSA offers several options for farmers and ranchers to apply for CFAP, including a call center where employees can answer your questions and help you get started on your application,” said Richard Fordyce, Farm Service Agency administrator. “With only two weeks before the deadline, now is the time to check out the resources on our website and contact the call center or your local office for your last-minute questions.”

Over 160 commodities are eligible for CFAP, including certain non-specialty crops, livestock, dairy, wool, specialty crops, eggs, aquaculture, and nursery crops and cut flowers. All eligible commodities, payment rates, and calculations can be found on

Customers seeking one-on-one support with the CFAP application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer general assistance. This is a recommended first step before a producer engages the team at the FSA county office at their local USDA Service Center.

Producers have several options for applying to the CFAP program by the Sept. 11 deadline:
    Using an online portal, accessible at This allows producers with secure USDA login credentials, known as eAuthentication, to certify eligible commodities online, digitally sign applications, and submit directly to the local USDA Service Center.  
    Completing the application form using our CFAP Application Generator and Payment Calculator found at This Excel workbook allows customers to input information specific to their operation to determine estimated payments and populate the application form, which can be printed, then signed, and submitted to their local USDA Service Center.
    Downloading the AD-3114 application form from and manually completing the form to submit to the local USDA Service Center by mail, electronically, or by hand delivery to an office drop box. In some limited cases, the office may be open for in-person business by appointment. Visit to check the status of your local office.

USDA Service Centers can also work with producers to complete and securely transmit digitally signed applications through two commercially available tools: Box and OneSpan. Producers who are interested in digitally signing their applications should notify their local service centers when calling to discuss the CFAP application process. You can learn more about these solutions at

All other eligibility forms, such as those related to adjusted gross income and payment information, can be downloaded from For existing FSA customers, these documents are likely already on file.

Farmers to Families Food Box Program Reaches 75 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 more than 75 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this week, President Trump announced an additional up to $1 billion will be added to the Farmers to Families Food Box Program while the economy continues to reopen.

“The delivery of 75 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. Each of these milestones is marked by pride and has required hours of hard work and dedication from USDA employees, farmers, ranchers, distributors and the brave volunteers of countless non-profits going the last mile to reach 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.”

“In May, under direction from the President, we launched the $3 billion Farmers to Families Food Box program to help feed American families and support our farmers. Just over three months later, the United States has responded in record amounts with over 75 million boxes having been delivered nationwide. This program will continue to fulfill its mission to support the most vulnerable, empower our workforce and uplift great American farmers,” said Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump.


Following the President’s announcement of additional funding up to $1 billion, USDA also announced today it intends to extend current contractors that desire to continue to deliver food boxes through September 18. These extensions will ensure adequate capacity for food box distribution as USDA plans to incorporate the additional funding. USDA continues to review proposals received for the upcoming third round, and will issue additional agreements in the near future, with subsequent contracts to deliver food boxes the remainder of September and through October 31.

In the ongoing second round of purchasing and distribution, which began July 1 and will conclude Aug. 31, 2020, USDA has purchased more than $1.113 billion of food through extended contracts of select vendors from the first round of the program as well as new contracts focused 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.

In the upcoming third round, which begins September 1, USDA plans to purchase combination boxes to ensure all recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk and meat products. Additional box types will be considered on an as needed basis. Entities that proposed under the previous solicitation, including current vendors, will have to reapply. 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.

The first round of purchases occurred from May 15 through June 30, 2020 and saw more than 35.5 million boxes delivered in the first 45 days.

1890 Land-grant Universities Celebrate 130 Years of Cutting-edge Science, Education and Community Service

Sunday marks the 130th anniversary of the authorizing legislation establishing the 1890 Land-Grant Universities (LGUs). Almost 30 years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act of 1862, the Second Morrill Act, creating our nation’s historically black land-grant colleges, was successfully shepherded through Congress by Senator Justin Smith Morrill and signed into law on Aug. 30, 1890. This thriving network of 19 universities has a legacy of educating first-generation and economically disadvantaged college students, and enhancing the resilience of limited-resourced farmers, families, individuals, and underserved communities.

“America’s 1890 Land-Grant Universities are home to some of the best and the brightest our nation has to offer,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “The thousands of scientists, researches, and educators at these institutions are undertaking user-inspired, cutting-edge science that is transforming lives across our nation and around the world. The students at these institutions are a critical part of the future of American agriculture and with them the future is bright.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) supports a variety of initiatives and programs supporting 1890 institutions across the nation:
    The 1890 Scholarships Program provides scholarships to support recruiting, engaging, retaining, mentoring, and training of undergraduate students. In FY 2020, each of the 1890 LGUs received $752,632 from NIFA, totaling more than $14 million to enhance student opportunities.
    The 1890 Agricultural Extension Program assists diverse audiences, particularly those who have limited social and economic resources, to improve their access to positive opportunities through outreach education. The funds support small and medium-size family farms and new producers in owning and operating viable businesses, youth and others. In FY 2020, these NIFA grants in the amount of $54,720,000 supported all the 1890 LGU’s.
    The 1890 Facilities Grant Program provides for the acquisition and improvement of agricultural and food sciences facilities and equipment, including libraries, so that the 1890 LGUs may participate fully in developing human capital in the food, agricultural, and human sciences.
    The 1890 Institution Teaching, Research and Extension Capacity Building Grants Program supports research, teaching, and extension by awarding grants that address key problems of national, regional, and multi-institutional importance in sustaining all components of agriculture and rural development. NIFA supported this program in FY 2020 with $21,853, 028.
    The Evans-Allen Research Program supports agricultural research activities at 1890 LGUs. In FY 2020, NIFA awarded $62,910,320.
    The 1890 National Scholars Program seeks to increase the number of minorities studying agriculture, food, natural sciences, and related disciplines by providing full tuition and employee benefits for up to 4 years to selected students. Selected students will then be eligible for noncompetitive conversion to a permanent appointment with USDA upon successful completion of their degree.
    The Booker T. Washington Fellowship Program, managed by the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE), aimed at connecting faculty and staff at 1890 institutions to resources and research available to them at USDA.
    The USDA-1890 Task Force also managed by OPPE – body composed of equal part USDA employees and 1890 institution officials – regularly meets and converses to seek mutually beneficial cooperation.
    The Centers for Excellence Program provides support for enhanced international training and development and to increase diversity in the science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and mathematics pipeline.

In 2015, on the 125th Anniversary of the Second Morrill Act, USDA-NIFA established the 1890 Centers of Excellence Program. This program provides support for the three Centers of Excellence to increase profitability and rural prosperity in underserved farming communities. In fiscal year 2020, NIFA invested $4.8 million in three LGUs, each receiving a $1.6 million grant: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Tuskegee University, and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

After 130 years of experience and diversity in agricultural research, education, and extension, 1890 LGUs are poised to develop leadership and human capital for our nation’s preeminence in the 21st century.

The universities that make up the 1890 Land-Grant University System are: Alabama A&M, Alcorn State University, Central State University, Delaware State University, Florida A&M University, Fort Valley State University, Kentucky State University, Langston University, Lincoln University, North Carolina A&T State University, Prairie View A&M University, South Carolina State University, Southern University, Tennessee State University, Tuskegee University, University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Virginia State University and West Virginia State University.

Some recent examples of impactful 1890 LGU projects:
    After Jacksonville, Alabama was hit by an EF3 tornado that did extensive damage and uprooted scores of trees, Alabama Extension's Urban Green program provided educational resources on proper planting and tree selection, reaching 10,116 individuals across the state.
    University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Agricultural Research Station’s 4-H “Healthy Habits” healthy foods and exercise program instilled healthy habits in 900 local youths.
    Researchers at Tennessee State University developed molecular fingerprint and biosensor methods for detecting Salmonella and other foodborne pathogens that are showing promising results as efficient tools for food safety surveillance. The resulting rapid and accurate detection technology, for use by regulatory agencies, meat and poultry producers and processors helped identify potential food safety problems in facilities and products, reduce testing time from days to hours, and cut testing cost by 50 percent.
    To keep young people interested in critical STEM education, North Carolina A&T Cooperative Extension Program’s Computer Science (CS) Pathways connected 1,804 youths to exciting Computer Science-focused learning experiences.