Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Tuesday September 29 Ag News

 Weed Seed Movement by Combines
Keith Glewen, NE Extension Educator, Saunders County

While combining corn or soybeans have you ever had a field where the weed population got away from you? Or maybe you were doing some custom harvesting and the weed population was greater than your typical fields. Did you ever ask yourself the question, “ I wonder if some of that weed seed is still in my combine?” A recent two year study involving an actual cleanout of growers combines conducted by the University of Wisconsin provides some of the following information.... Here are some of the highlights:
-    97% of samples contained viable weed seed
-    Combine head samples contained ~49% of the total weeds emerged, followed by the feeder house ~30%, rock trap ~19%, and rotor ~2%
-    Most frequently observed weeds were grasses, pigweeds and common lambsquarters
-    When time is limited, we believe that prioritizing the front of the combine (head and feeder house) would provide the most benefit in reducing weed seed spread by combines

This and other relevant soybean production and marketing information will be shared at a virtual Nebraska Soybean Day & Machinery Expo on Thursday, December 17th. More information on how to connect to be shared in the coming weeks.


Brad Schick, NE Extension Beef Educator

Cows are often put on soybean residue in order to get them off pasture when other forage options are unavailable. Soybean residue or stubble may also be baled and used in rations. But what is the quality of grazed or baled soybean residue?
Soybeans themselves are very high in protein and fat. They are about 40% Crude Protein and about 20% fat which is why soybean residue can be perceived as great feed. In reality, the residue itself is much different. The empty pods and stems contain only 4 to 6% CP and the TDN is only 35 to 45%. The leaves are slightly higher in protein at 12%, but the protein is only 30% digestible and leaves break down quickly after plant maturity and harvest.
These feed values will not begin to support the nutritional requirements of even a dry cow even if there is some grain left in the field. Soybean residue can be grazed and work well to remove cattle from pasture as long as supplemental feed is available.
Baled residue can be worked into a ration once the quality of the soybean residue bales is determined. Bales can be used as a roughage source in rations if other sources are less available. Just like grazing, baled soybean residue won’t even come close to the quality of corn stalk bales.
To review: Soybean residue may not be the quality we often think. Residue alone will likely not meet even dry cow nutrient requirements so supplementation will be need.

 Fischer Introduces Legislation for the Safe Transport of Ag and Livestock Products

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and chairman of the subcommittee on Transportation and Safety, released the following statement today after introducing the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act:

“Ag and livestock haulers are essential to ensuring Nebraska food and fuel make it across the country. Their vital work has been further highlighted by their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud to introduce the HAULS Act, which builds on my previous work to ensure ag and livestock haulers can continue feeding our nation,” said Senator Fischer.

The HAULS Act would:
1.      Eliminate the requirement that ag and livestock hours-of-service (HOS) exemptions only apply during state designated planting and harvesting seasons
2.     Amend and clarify the definition of “agricultural commodities” based on feedback provided by agriculture and livestock organizations
3.     Authorize a 150 air-mile exemption from HOS requirements on the destination side of a haul for ag and livestock haulers

“Nebraska plays an integral role in the U.S. beef production chain as a top state for commercial cattle slaughter, all cattle on feed, commercial red meat production, and livestock cash receipts. Unfortunately, current federal regulations fail to account for the intricacies involved with hauling live animals. The HAULS Act would help mitigate situations where a hauler is forced to choose between compliance with federal law or the health and welfare of the livestock on board. Nebraska Cattlemen sincerely thanks Senator Deb Fischer for her commitment to delivering needed regulatory flexibility for livestock haulers by helping facilitate longer hauls that are inherent to cattle production in our state,” said Ken Herz, president of Nebraska Cattlemen.

“Going back to her days in the Nebraska Legislature, Senator Fischer has been a long-time champion of a common-sense approach to transportation rules and regulations. The HAULS Act provides needed regulatory relief to our nation’s farmers, ranchers, and ag haulers. We appreciate the introduction of this important piece of legislation, and we stand ready to work with Senator Fischer to ensure it becomes law,” said Stephen D. Nelson, president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation.

"For years livestock haulers and producers were unduly burdened with Hours Of Service regulations that do not take into account the unique difficulties that these drivers face every day. The COVID-19 pandemic has only further illustrated how important it is to allow these drivers to quickly and safely reach their destinations, and in turn keep grocery store shelves stocked with beef. Thank you to Senator Fischer for her continued work and recognition of the needs of our producers and haulers,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president Marty Smith.

“AFTC applauds Senator Fischer on her introduction of the HAULS Act of 2020. This language provides the ag community with continued flexibility during the busiest times of the year, while expanding uniformity and clarity for the transportation of our nation’s ag products,” said Jon Samson, Executive Director of the Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference.

“Nebraska Grain and Feed Association thanks Senator Deb Fischer for her leadership and introduction of these three important incremental changes in the Senate Bill 4720, Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act of 2020. For Nebraska, the addition of feed ingredients, such as soybean meal and distillers grains, to the agricultural products definition benefits the transport of agricultural products providing more consistency and efficiency which benefits the consumer.  The Association supports these changes and believes these changes will help the seasonal transportation spikes of food, fiber and other agricultural supplies,” said Kristi Block, Executive Vice President of Nebraska Grain and Feed Association.

Cattle Producers Welcome Sen. Fischer's HAULS Act

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) today applauded the introduction of legislation by Sen. Deb Fischer (R - Neb.), that would provide livestock haulers flexibility and critical relief from hours-of-service (HOS) rules.

The Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act, S. 4720, would add a 150 air-mile exemption to HOS regulations to the backend of hauls for those transporting livestock or agricultural commodities. This legislation also eliminates the seasonal harvest  requirements for the agriculture hours-of-service exemption, making the exemption available year round in all states.

"For years livestock haulers and producers were unduly burdened with hours-of-service regulations that do not take into account the unique difficulties that these drivers face every day," said NCBA President Marty Smith. "The COVID-19 pandemic has only further illustrated how important it is to allow these drivers to quickly and safely reach their destinations, and in turn keep grocery store shelves stocked with beef. Thank you to Senator Fischer for her continued work and recognition of the needs of our producers and haulers."

New House bill would allow small meat lockers to expand

Legislation to support local business and livestock producers was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives today by U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE).

The Strengthening Local Processing Act seeks to address market disruptions created by the coronavirus pandemic. When the country’s largest processing facilities had to close, commodity producers flooded local meat lockers with their product. With already limited reservation space being taken up by large growers, longtime customers had to schedule orders up to one year in advance. The recent growth in consumer demand for local food ensures this backlog will continue.

This bill would allow small meat processors to expand their capacity to process animals and serve more rural livestock producers.

“New markets are new opportunities,” said Johnathan Hladik, policy director for the Center for Rural Affairs.” Small meat lockers are catalysts for economic activity. The Strengthening Local Processing Act will make it possible for these businesses to grow and expand.”

As part of the legislation, a grant program to help cover costs associated with meeting federal or state inspection guidelines and to assist processors in expanding their infrastructure would be established.

“Like many local processors, we have seen a significant growth in demand for our services,” said Mike Boell, owner of the Oakland (Nebraska) Meat Processing Plant. “Right now regulatory and financial barriers are making it difficult for businesses like ours to take full advantage of this opportunity. The Strengthening Local Processing Act is a step in the right direction and we think it deserves Congressional support.”

Additionally, the bill invests in the next generation of small meat processors by offering grants to train small-plant operators and employees.

“This legislation reflects the priorities of farmers and business owners from across the nation,”  Hladik said. “We are proud to have played a part in its development and applaud this bipartisan group of lawmakers for their willingness to act.”   

Changes Improve LRP...

NeFB Newsletter article

The USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) in June announced changes to the Livestock Risk Management Protection (LRP) insurance program. The changes became effective July 1. LRP, available for feeder cattle, fed cattle, swine, and lambs, is designed to insure against price declines. Producers can purchase a variety of coverage levels and insurance periods to match their operations and marketing timetables. When actual prices fall below the coverage price an indemnity for the difference is paid.

RMA’s goal with the changes is to make LRP more usable and affordable for producers. Under the changes, producers can pay premiums at the end of the endorsement period rather than on the purchase date. Also, coverage levels above 80 percent receive a 5-percentage point bump in subsidy levels. For example, for a coverage level of 95 percent, the subsidy increases from 20 percent to 25 percent. The subsidy remains at 35 percent for coverage levels less than 80 percent. More information on LRP can be found at RMA website: https://www.rma.usda.gov/Policy-and-Procedure/Insurance-Plans/Livestock-Insurance-Plans.

Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) has shown LRP can be an effective risk management tool for both feeder and fed cattle. Jay Parson and Jim Jansen of the Dept. of Agricultural Economics analyzed the effectiveness of LRP cattle products between 2008 and 2017 for feeder and fed cattle. They found the indemnity ratio for four feeder cattle products was 1.33 over the 10-year period, meaning for each $1.00 in premium, $1.33 in indemnities were paid. However, indemnities were not paid in all years. The same analysis for coverage on steers and heifers of greater than 900 pounds resulted in an indemnity ratio was $1.08.

The RMA wants to make LRP more useful for producers. The UNL analysis shows LRP can be an effective risk management tool, but it doesn’t mean LRP is the right choice for every cattle producer. It does suggest, though, that livestock producers should investigate LRP as a possible risk management tool for their operations.

Cuming County 4-H Youth to Celebrate National 4-H Week: October 4-10

Every year, National 4-H Week sees millions of youth, parents, volunteers and alumni come together to celebrate the many positive youth development opportunities offered by 4-H. The theme for this year’s National 4-H Week, Opportunity4All, is a campaign that was created by National 4-H Council to rally support for Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program and identify solutions to eliminate the opportunity gap that affects 55 million kids across America.

With so many children struggling to reach their full potential, 4-H believes that young people, in partnership with adults, can play a key role in creating a more promising and equitable future for youth, families and communities across the country. In 4-H, we believe every child should have an equal opportunity to succeed. We believe every child should have the skills they need to make a difference in the world.  

“We believe youth perspectives are so important and a solution to eliminating the opportunity gap, because young people come with new ideas and new ways of seeing the world,” explains Jennifer Sirangelo, President and CEO of National 4-H Council. By encouraging diverse voices and innovative actions, 4-H believes that solutions can be found to address the educational, economic and health issues that have created the opportunity gap.

“4-H is such a valuable experience for youth of all ages. Not only can 4-H give youth a voice to express who they are, it also helps to empower skills that they will use for a lifetime. 4-H is an organization that helps youth engage in leadership opportunities and grow into young professionals. There are so many opportunities for youth to take part in and grow their skills and I think that is what makes 4-H such an awesome organization. Our Cuming County 4-H clubs are always helping out in the community and bettering themselves to make the world a better place. We live in a wonderful community with cherished donors to help make our Cuming County 4-H Program great. The support given by our community has been amazing,” said Melissa Nordboe, 4-H Extension Assistant.

In Cuming County, more than 360 4-H youth and 75 volunteers from the community are involved in 4‑ H. Cuming County has a lot of offerings when it comes to 4-H. The summer months are filled with workshops that are available to youth to build their skills in multiple areas. There are also numerous day camps for youth ages 5-7 and 8-11. During the school year, Extension Staff are busy providing enriching programs in local schools in the areas of Healthy Living, Agriculture, College & Career Readiness, and so much more!

One of the most anticipated events of National 4-H Week every year is the 4-H STEM Challenge, formerly known as National Youth Science Day. The theme of this year’s event, which is expected to see hundreds of thousands of youth across the nation taking part throughout October, is Mars Base Camp. Developed by Google and Virginia Cooperative Extension, Mars Base Camp is a collection of activities that teaches kids ages 8-14 STEM skills, including mechanical engineering, physics, computer science and agriculture.

Nebraska State Fair, Aksarben Foundation Commit to Future of Stock Show

The Nebraska State Fair has proudly managed and grown the Aksarben Stock Show since 2018 and has every intention of continuing to do so for many years to come. State Fair Executive Director, Bill Ogg and Nebraska State Fair Board Chairwoman, Beth Smith met with the Aksarben Foundation staff two weeks ago to discuss plans around future shows and to confirm a continued partnership with Aksarben as the show’s presenting sponsor.

Sandra Reding, Aksarben Foundation President, stated, “We strongly support the Nebraska State Fair continuing to produce and manage the Aksarben Stock Show. Under the Nebraska State Fair, the Aksarben Stock Show has expanded its reach, grown the number of entries and participants and has continued to be a sought-after show for many in and around the state. The Aksarben Stock Show is a proud part of the Aksarben legacy, and we’re honored to continue our involvement with the show as the presenting sponsor.”

The partnership between the Nebraska State Fair and the Aksarben Foundation has remained positive as each is committed to supporting and growing the 92-year old livestock show. Though initially owned and managed by the Aksarben Foundation, the Aksarben Stock Show was transitioned away from the Foundation’s management beginning in 2018. The Aksarben Stock Show was moved to Grand Island in 2017 by the Aksarben Foundation, due in part to the impeccable grounds and location of Fonner Park, a move celebrated by show exhibitors and attendees.

State Fair Chairwoman Smith commented, “Unquestionably, when an employee attempts to seize control and ownership of an employer’s assets without authorization or approval to do so, immediate termination is justified.” The Nebraska State Fair hadn’t foreseen this issue arising but is working to engage stakeholders from multiple areas to insure the Aksarben Stock Show continues and remains successful long into the future. “We are still regrouping from a very successful and exciting 2020 Aksarben Stock Show last weekend. Plans are already underway for the 2021 show, which now includes seeking a new Show Director, but we have every confidence in finding the right candidate and moving forward with another amazing show next year.”

Grand Island to Host Livestock show “the Nebraskan” in January

On September 14, 2020, the National Western Stock Show Board of Directors announced that the 115th National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado, typically held in January, was postponed until 2022 due to the rules relating to the Pandemic in Colorado.

To provide an opportunity for cattle producers who typically exhibit at the National Western, the Grand Island Livestock Complex Authority (GILCA), Mayor Roger Steele, and The Nebraskan Livestock Show group have announced plans to develop a one year only alternative livestock show to be held in January 2021 on the Fonner Park Campus in Grand Island. The Nebraskan Livestock Show will be presented beginning on January 9, 2021 with the genuine intent to match the schedule of the anticipated NWSS dates to accommodate the plans already in place within the beef cattle industry.   

“Our National Western Stock Show leadership is supportive of Grand Island stepping in and creating a new event to provide an outlet for cattle producers across the country who may have been planning to come to our show in January,” said Paul Andrews, President and CEO of the National Western Stock Show.  “When asked if they could assist in some way, we saw this as a chance to support those cattle producers in need of exhibiting. We will provide livestock panels and consulting services to help Grand Island show staff streamline their show schedule to best replicate what ranchers and cattle exhibitors would have experienced this January in Denver. We are grateful Grand Island is providing this one year only opportunity for the cattle industry during National Western Stock Show absence in 2021.” added Andrews.

Bill Ogg, Executive Director of the Nebraska State Fair and lead contact for this effort, says, “Covid-19 has been brutal for all of us in the United States and the livestock industry has not gone untouched.   The National Western Stock Show has an incredibly rich tradition that has not escaped the wrath of the pandemic and these unprecedented times. With our experience with numerous junior national shows who already hold their events in Grand Island, we know the Fonner Park Campus is an excellent site that meets the exhibitors and vendors’ requirements that would normally be at the National Western. The site allows exhibitors the opportunity to exhibit, promote, market and sell their various breeds of livestock.  We are pleased to be able to offer this alternative site in 2021 to those who typically attend the National Western.”  

Positive Margins Return to Ethanol...

NeFB Newsletter

No sector of Nebraska agriculture was hit harder by COVID-19 than the ethanol sector. People working from home and stay-at-home orders meant less travel, less gasoline sales, and less ethanol sales. Scott Irwin, an agricultural economist at the University of Illinois, reports gasoline use this year dropped 48 percent compared to last year between March 13 and April 3. Ethanol use also dropped 48 percent, the only difference being the bottom in ethanol use came two weeks after the bottom in gasoline use.

The slowdown in the ethanol use negatively affected ethanol plants’ operating margins. According to numbers recently compiled based on weekly estimated ethanol net profits for a representative Iowa plant, plants were already operating in the red entering 2020 and COVID-19 only made it worse. Margins plummeted in March, at one point falling to a loss of $.20 per gallon. Many plants could not absorb the losses and were idled. However, for those plants able to withstand the demand shock and remain open positive margins returned beginning in May.

Irwin attributes the return of positive margins to relative price movements for inputs and outputs of ethanol production. Ethanol prices recovered faster than corn prices, the primary input in ethanol production, and corn oil prices, a byproduct of ethanol production, also improved. The combination of rising output prices and lower input costs helped ethanol plants regain positive margins. The return of positive margins helped offset some of the losses which occurred, roughly $371 million by Irwin’s estimate. Some ethanol plants remain shut down. In Nebraska, two plants remain idled. These plant shutdowns continue to cost the industry. When considering the costs of shuttered plants, and the offsetting profits since May, Irwin estimates the losses from the COVID-19 industry ranged from -$37 million to -$116 million.

USDA Announces National Pork Board Appointments

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the appointment of five members to the National Pork Board. All five appointees will serve three-year terms beginning June 2020 and ending June 2023.

The appointed members are:
    Scott Phillips, Drexel, Missouri
    Heather Hill, Greenfield, Indiana
    Deb Ballance, Fremont, North Carolina
    Al Wulfekuhle, Quasqueton, Iowa

    Todd Erickson, Northwood, North Dakota

The National Pork Board is composed of 15 pork producers nominated by the National Pork Producers Delegate Body, which is made up of 143 producer and importer members.

The program was created and is administered under the authority of the Pork Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act of 1985. It became effective September 5, 1986, when the Pork Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Order was implemented. Assessments began November 1, 1986.

More information about the board is available on the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) National Pork Board webpage and on the National Pork Board website, pork.org.

Cattle on Feed Breakdown

Matthew Diersen, Risk & Business Mgt Sp., South Dakota State University

Ahead of major reports, we like to suggest our students study pre-release or trade estimates to get an idea of what to expect. Then, they can observe any change in prices as the markets react to new information from the reports. Before last week's Cattle on Feed report, I studied the trade estimates to see they were rational, that is, did they make sense? The average of estimates for cattle on feed on September 1 was 103.4. When the report came out, the number was 11.4 million head, suggesting a slight disconnect. However, the estimates are usually a percent of the prior year's figures. NASS rounds their stated percentage changes to whole numbers too, so one needs to use more detail to assess any disparity.
Thus, the 103.4 estimate was implying that this year's figure would be 103.4 percent of the 2019 level of 10,982 (1,000 head). The range of estimates was 102.2 to 103.9, which when translated back to levels meant 11,224 to 11,410 (1,000 head). Now, it seems unlikely anyone would provide such an odd or precise forecast amount. The odds are that somebody forecast 11,200 and it was rounded to 102.2 (or something like that). We observe the rounded outcomes of the prior year's level, not the raw forecasted level. Regardless, this is the convention that is followed. The on feed estimate suggested a level above last year and consistent with moving through the COVID-19 disruptions from spring 2020. It made sense.
Were the estimates internally consistent? In other words, did the consensus placements and marketings align with the on feed estimate? The placements were estimated at 105.9 percent of last year's placements. The range was 100.8 to 110.0, which is commonly wide as placements are relatively hard to forecast. Analysts can observe feeder cattle sales, but those do not have to all be bought by feedlots. Applying the average level to last year's 1,884 (1,000 head) implied 1,995 this year. The marketings were estimated at 96.6, with a range of 95.7 to 97.5. Marketings tend to track with observed slaughter levels so the range is commonly narrow. Applying the average level to last year's 1,953 (1,000 head) implied 1,887 this year. Start with the August 1 level on feed of 11,284, add the placements and subtract the marketings to reach 11,392. Then pause for a second and take off [my guess at the un-estimated] other disappearance of 50 (1,000 head) to obtain 11,342. That is pretty consistent with the estimated on feed level of 11,355.
The actual placements, at 2,057, are 109.2 percent of last August, higher than the average estimate and within the range of estimates. The actual marketings, at 1,892, are 96.9 percent of last August, also higher than the average estimate and within the range of estimates. The actual other disappearance was 55 and the actual on feed total was 11,394 or 103.8 percent of last September 1. No big surprises, but the placements were fairly close to the high end of the estimates. The placements were sharply higher for the 800-899 lbs weight class. These factors would likely be seen as pressuring feeder cattle futures prices.

NCBA Announces Dynamic Line Up of Speakers for Virtual Stockmanship & Stewardship Event

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, is announcing an exciting slate of speakers and topics for their renowned Stockmanship and Stewardship program. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing industry meetings to shift how they meet and learn, the Stockmanshp and Stewardship program will be going virtual this fall. This shift to an online platform allows for a high-quality experience of one of NCBA’s educational events for all attendees, even if they are attending from the comfort of their home or office.

On November 11-12 virtual attendees will have the chance to engage in a number of sessions that address current and future issues for the cattle industry. Both days will allow virtual attendees to still have the chance to participate in the valuable low-stress cattle handling demonstrations the Stockmanship and Stewardship program has become known for.  

Day one of the event will have an interesting lineup of educational program tracks including sessions that take an in-depth look at Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) topics. Jason Nickell, DVM, PhD, DACVPM, Merck Animal Health will present on Individual Management Technologies and Diagnostics. A robust business track will be offered that will cover everything from risk management and cattle marketing to how consumers have shifted their buying habits during the pandemic and beyond. With just one week past the 2020 Presidential Election, NCBA’s policy team will provide an informative election reaction. In this session, the policy team will discuss what issues the U.S. cattle and beef industry will be tackling in Washington, D.C. Finally, day one of the event will conclude with a keynote presentation from Frank Mitloehner, PhD, University of California – Davis on recent industry happenings on the topic of Sustainability.

On November 12 attendees will have a chance to engage with another set of valuable sessions. The sessions will cover everything from the value of training producers and their employees on cattle welfare to panel discussions on genetic value and current traceability efforts. The event will close with a keynote from the experts at CattleFax sharing important information on the economic state of the industry, and what it might look like in the days ahead.  

Attendees will have the ability to interact with all speakers and clinicians on both days to get their questions answered and discuss how to apply what they have learned on their own operations.

Registration for this one-of-a-kind virtual event opens on October 1 and is free of charge thanks to continued support from Merck Animal Health and the Checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance program.  

“Our sponsorship of the Stockmanship & Stewardship program aligns with our goal to provide customers with valuable information on proper animal care and handling,” says Kevin Mobley, executive director, Cattle Sales and Marketing for Merck Animal Health. “While we are not able to connect live at this time, this virtual event will include helpful tips and advice that supports better herd health.”

The first 200 registrants will receive a complimentary event packet and gift courtesy of Merck Animal Health. Additionally, all participants will be eligible for a discount coupon to attend an in-person Stockmanship and Stewardship Regional Event in 2021 to be held in Ontario, Ore., Elko, Nev., Durango, Colo., Danville, Ind., and Bowling Green, Ky. For more information and to register visit, www.StockmanshipandStewardship.org.   

Judge Dismisses Antitrust Lawsuit Alleging Conspiracy to Affect Cattle Prices

A federal judge in Minnesota on Monday dismissed an antitrust class-action lawsuit alleging the nation's largest meatpackers conspired to fix cattle prices.

In 2019, a number of lawsuits were brought by cattle interest groups and traders against Tyson Foods Inc., Tyson Fresh Meats Inc., JBS S.A., JBS USA Food Company, Swift Beef Company, JBS Packerland Inc., Cargill Inc., Cargill Meat Solutions Corp., Marfrig Global Foods S.A., and National Beef Packing Company LLC, alleging the companies conspired to bring down the price of fed cattle in 2015. By the end of 2015, the price fell from $170 per hundredweight (cwt) to $120 per cwt.

All of the cases were later consolidated into one antitrust case in the U.S. District Court of the District of Minnesota.

"Because plaintiffs have not pleaded their direct evidence with sufficient detail and because they have not pleaded parallel conduct sufficient to support an inference of a price-fixing conspiracy, the court will grant defendants' motions to dismiss," Judge John R. Tunheim said in the order handed down on Monday.

Plaintiffs alleged the companies engaged in fed-cattle price fixing; unjustly enriched their businesses; manipulated the prices of fed cattle and, as a result, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange live-cattle futures and options; and committed a number of violations of the Commodity Exchange Act, among other allegations.

The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America, or R-CALF USA, filed a lawsuit on behalf of four cattle-feeding ranchers in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Wyoming. Several other lawsuits were filed by traders.

Plaintiffs had alleged that, starting on at least Jan. 1, 2015, and continuing to the present, the companies worked together to suppress cattle prices by shifting how purchases were made.

The court granted the plaintiffs 90 days to file an amended complaint.

NFU Welcomes Introduction of Next Generation Fuels Act

Higher octane fuels like mid- and high-level ethanol blends are mutually beneficial for drivers, farmers, and the environment. Recognizing this, Representative Cheri Bustos today introduced the Next Generation Fuels Act, which would increase gasoline octane to a minimum standard of 98 Research Octane Number (RON) through low-carbon, renewable fuels.

Given their environmental and economic advantages, National Farmers Union (NFU) has long supported higher-level blends of ethanol, as the organization’s president Rob Larew noted in a statement. As such, he welcomed the bill’s introduction and applauded Rep. Bustos’s leadership.

“There are so many reasons to widely adopt low-carbon, high octane ethanol blends. First of all, they significantly improve vehicle fuel efficiency, which reduces emissions of the greenhouse gasses that drive climate change. Additionally, by replacing harmful gasoline aromatics, they can improve air quality and respiratory health. If that weren’t enough, they also create new markets for family farmers, support rural economic growth, and offer a cost-effective fuel for American drivers.

“Considering all these benefits, National Farmers Union welcomes any legislation that would facilitate more extensive use of mid- and high-level ethanol blends – and the Next Generation Fuels Act would do just that. We appreciate Representative Bustos’s recognition of ethanol’s potential and the legwork she continues to do to fully realize that potential.”

Farmers to Families Food Box Program Surpasses 100 Million Boxes Delivered

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that more than 100 million food boxes have been distributed in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farmers to Families Food Box Program. Earlier this month, the Department announced it had entered into contracts with 50 entities for the third round of food box deliveries, which include contracts to purchase up to $1 billion authorized by President Donald J. Trump.

“It is incredible to think that in a little more than five months, this food box program has gone from an idea to a reality that has provided more than 100 million boxes of nutritious foods to people in need and along the way has helped to keep farmers and ranchers in business and allowed Americans working in our nation’s food supply chain to get back to work,” said Secretary Perdue. “I have been meeting with food banks and recipients across the country and it’s been heartening to hear all the positive feedback on how the program has saved businesses and fed Americans in need. We are now into the third round of deliveries and we’re working harder than ever to continue to build on the success of the program.”

“With 100 million Farmers to Families Food Boxes delivered, we have utilized critical funding authorized by President Trump to continue connecting our great American farmers to millions of food insecure families. I am proud of this Administration’s mission to keep our most vulnerable families fed and support American family farms in the process,” said Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump

Monday, September 28, 2020

Monday September 28 Ag News


For the week ending September 27, 2020, there were 6.6 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 20% very short, 40% short, 39% adequate, and 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 23% very short, 35% short, 41% adequate, and 1% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 6% very poor, 11% poor, 20% fair, 44% good, and 19% excellent. Corn mature was 80%, well ahead of 48% last year, and ahead of 65% for the five-year average. Harvested was 14%, ahead of 7% last year, and near 10% average.

Soybean condition rated 6% very poor, 11% poor, 22% fair, 45% good, and 16% excellent. Soybeans dropping leaves was 92%, well ahead of 69% last year, and ahead of 80% average. Harvested was 29%, well ahead of 4% last year, and ahead of 13% average.

Winter wheat planted was 60%, behind 65% last year and 66% average. Emerged was 15%, near 16% last year, and behind 27% average.

Sorghum condition rated 5% very poor, 8% poor, 29% fair, 35% good, and 23% excellent. Sorghum coloring was 98%, near 97% both last year and average. Mature was 71%, well ahead of 33% last year, and ahead of 56% average. Harvested was 7%, ahead of 1% last year, but near 9% average.

Dry edible beans dropping leaves was 91%, near 92% last year. Harvested was 75%, ahead of 61% last year.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 13% very poor, 21% poor, 25% fair, 39% good, and 2% excellent.


Harvest showed rapid progress as Iowa farmers made the most of 6.4 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending September 27, 2020, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Field activities also included drilling cover crops, applying fertilizer and manure, and fall tillage.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 15% very short, 31% short, 53% adequate and 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture condition rated 21% very short, 34% short, 44% adequate and 1% surplus.

Corn was 97% in or beyond dent stage, over 2 weeks ahead of the previous year and 3 days ahead of the 5-year average. Only 18% of the crop has yet to reach maturity, 3 weeks ahead of last year and 9 days ahead of average. Corn harvest for grain reached 12% statewide, almost 3 weeks ahead of last year and 9 days ahead of average. This is the highest percent of corn harvested for grain completed by September 27 since 2012 when 48% of the crop had been harvested. Corn condition rated 42% good to excellent.

Soybeans coloring or beyond advanced to 96%, which is 2 weeks ahead of last year and 1 week ahead of average. Eighty-four percent of the soybean crop was dropping leaves or beyond, 16 days ahead of last year and 8 days ahead of average. Soybean harvest was 30% complete, 19 days ahead of last year and 12 days ahead of average. This was the largest proportion of soybeans harvested by September 27 since 2012 when 41% had been harvested. Farmers in northwest and west central Iowa continue to lead the way with almost half of their soybean acreage harvested. Soybean condition rated 47% good to excellent.

Pasture condition rated 20% good to excellent, an increase of 3 percentage points from the previous week. Livestock felt the effect of changing temperatures. Low levels of water in ponds and creeks have made providing water for cows on pasture a challenge for some producers.

USDA: Corn 15% Harvested, Soybeans 20% Harvested


The U.S. corn harvest was slightly behind the five-year average pace while soybean harvest moved further ahead of normal last week, according to the USDA NASS weekly Crop Progress report released on Monday.  NASS estimated that, as of Sunday, Sept. 27, 15% of U.S. corn had been harvested, 1 percentage point behind the average pace of 16%. Corn reaching maturity remained 10 percentage points ahead of normal at 75% as of Sunday compared to the five-year average of 65%. NASS estimated that 61% of the corn crop was in good-to-excellent condition as of Sunday, unchanged from the previous week.

While corn harvest continued to run slightly slower than normal, soybean harvest pulled further ahead of the average pace. NASS estimated that 20% of soybeans were harvested as of Sunday, up 14 percentage points from the previous week and 5 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 15%. Soybean development also remained ahead of normal with 74% of the crop dropping leaves, 5 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 69%.   The condition of soybeans was estimated at 64% good to excellent, up 1 percentage point from 63% the previous week.

Winter wheat planting continued to run slightly ahead of the normal pace, at 35% complete as of Sunday compared to the average of 33%. Ten percent of winter wheat had emerged, 2 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 8%.


Retirement Open House for Larry Howard POSTPONED

The decision has been made that with the rising numbers of COVID cases in Cuming County, Larry’s Retirement Open is being postponed at this time.  The event was scheduled for this Saturday afternoon, October 3rd at the Nielsen Community Center in West Point.  Staff at Cuming County Extension office will try to host the event in the spring.

Practicing Fire Safety at Harvest

John Wilson - NE Extension Educator Emeritus

Each year volunteer fire departments across the state are called to respond to combine or field fires started during harvest operations. The following guides can help ensure a smoother and safer harvest season without fire emergencies.

Combine Maintenance
Preventative maintenance is key to preventing many of the fires that occur on farm equipment.
-    Keep all bearings and gears well lubricated to prevent heat buildup and keep lubricants at proper levels.
-    Repair any leaks in the fuel system and any damaged electrical wiring.
-    Repair or replace damaged or worn out exhaust systems. In addition to a good exhaust system, install a spark arrester to catch burning particles. They are easy to install and require little maintenance.

Before and during harvest operations check for a buildup of combustible crop residue around the engine and exhaust system; concealed drive belts and pulleys that can overheat due to friction when there is an accumulation of crop residue around them; and worn or frayed electrical wiring that can cause sparks and ignite grain dust, crop residues, or fuel vapors.

Refueling Safety
Too often during harvest, safe fueling practices are ignored to save time. The few seconds saved are insignificant when compared to the loss of expensive farm equipment or weeks or even months spent in a hospital burn ward. Follow these safety practices:
-    Never refuel equipment with the engine running. Always shut the engine off.
-    Allow hot engines to cool 15 minutes before refueling.
-    Extinguish all smoking materials before refueling.
-    If fuel spills on an engine, wipe away any excess and allow the fumes to dissipate before starting the engine.

Plan to Avoid Emergencies
Being prepared to respond to a fire if one should occur can save critical minutes.
-    Start harvesting a field on the downwind side. If a fire does occur, the flames will be pushed toward the harvested portion of the field.
-    Always carry a cell phone or alternative for communicating with others in case of an emergency.
-    Know the location of the field in relationship to letters or numbers on county roads. This seems obvious, but in the excitement of the moment, it’s easy to not be able to recall this information. More than once volunteer firefighters have been paged for a field fire “northeast of town” and then had to look for the smoke.
-    Always carry two fire extinguishers on the combine, one in the cab and one that you can access from the ground. Also, carry a fire extinguisher in your grain hauling equipment.
-    If a field or equipment fire does occur, call 911 before trying to extinguish it yourself.
-    Have a tractor hooked to a disk near the field you are harvesting, but located where it wouldn't be affected if a field fire should occur.
-    If using a fire extinguisher, stay between the fire and your path to safety.
-    When using a fire extinguisher, remember to PASS, which stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep.
       + Pull the safety pin on the extinguisher.
       + Aim it at the base of the fire.
       + Squeeze the handle.
       + Sweep the extinguisher back and forth while releasing the contents.

Following these safety tips may seem like common sense, but with the long hours and rush to get harvest done, sometimes these are forgotten.  For more information on fire safety at harvest, contact your equipment dealer, your local fire department, or your local Nebraska Extension office.

Ag Sack Lunch Program For State’s Fourth-graders Kicks Off 11th Year.

The popular Ag Sack Lunch Program, designed to increase agricultural awareness among Nebraska fourth-graders and their families, has returned for its 11th school year in 2020-2021.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, changes have been made to the program this fall. Many classes will not be making the trip to Lincoln to tour the State Capitol Building as part of their fourth-grade curriculum. For that reason, the Ag Sack Lunch program this fall is providing schools with the option of receiving virtual presentations via Zoom this fall. These virtual presentations will focus on about the importance of agriculture to Nebraska’s economy.

“Last spring our program was abruptly ended due to the pandemic,” says Karen Brokaw, Ag Lunch Program coordinator. “This fall we are providing schools the option of receiving their presentations via Zoom if they are opting out of the Lincoln trip. We don’t want the pandemic to prevent us from visiting with fourth-grade students about the importance of agriculture in Nebraska. The presentations are still lively and fun with our Ag Ambassadors providing the students with important ag-related information.” To date, she says, “registrations for the fall semester have been for the virtual presentation, but spring registrations are primarily for the traditional Lincoln visits.”

“The Zoom presentations have gone really well,” says Ag Ambassador Abby Durheim, a UNL agricultural education major from Sunbury, Ohio. “The kids seem to really enjoy it, and they ask a ton of questions at the end.”

Registrations are still being accepted for both fall and spring presentations for both virtual or in-person State Capitol visits, according to Brokaw. “It is important teachers make their reservations as soon as possible to ensure availability,” she said. Reservations can be made online at www.agsacklunchprogram.com .

“Over the last 10 years, the Ag Sack Lunch Program has been successful in helping our fourth-graders understand where their food comes from and how Nebraska’s farm production methods help protect the environment while ensuring food safety and promoting animal health,” says Kelly Brunkhorst, Nebraska Corn Board executive director. “Participating teachers continue to tell us how their students learn so much from the presentations.”

Since the first Ag Sack Lunch program during the 2010-2011 school year, over 46,000 students have participated in the event. The program provided 5,250 lunches to students during the 2019-2020 school year.

The program is sponsored by the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Soybean Board, the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Nebraska Beef Council, Midwest Dairy and Nebraska Poultry Industries.  

USDA Designates Six Nebraska Counties as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue designated six Nebraska counties as primary natural disaster areas. Producers in Colfax, Cuming, Dawes, Dodge, Stanton and Thurston counties who suffered losses caused by recent drought may be eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans.

This natural disaster designation allows FSA to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts.

Producers in the contiguous counties listed below are also eligible to apply for emergency loans:
    Nebraska: Box Butte, Burt, Butler, Dakota, Dixon, Douglas, Madison, Pierce, Platte, Saunders, Sheridan, Sioux, Washington and Wayne
    Iowa: Monona and Woodbury
    South Dakota: Fall River and Oglala Lakota

The deadline to apply for these emergency loans is May 11, 2021.

FSA will review the loans based on the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

FSA has a variety of additional programs to help farmers recover from the impacts of this disaster. FSA programs that do not require a disaster declaration include: Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; Emergency Conservation Program; Livestock Forage Disaster Program; Livestock Indemnity Program; Operating and Farm Ownership Loans; and the Tree Assistance Program.

Farmers may contact their local USDA service center for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at farmers.gov/recover.

Market Your Crop Residue Using the Crop Residue Exchange

Daren Redfearn - NE Extension Forage Crop Residue Specialist

The Crop Residue Exchange (cropresidueexchange.unl.edu) came online in August 2017 and was designed to increase the convenience and accessibility of grazing crop residues. This online exchange assists corn and other crop producers to market crop residue to cattle producers. This interactive, online tool helps farmers and cattle producers connect and develop mutually beneficial agreements to use crop residue and forage cover crops for grazing.

Getting Started with the Crop Residue Exchange
After establishing a log-in account, farmers can list cropland available for grazing by drawing out the plot of land available using an interactive map and entering basic information about the type of residue, fencing situation, water availability, and dates available. The land available for grazing is described as “Residue Type” (corn, wheat, sorghum, other). Pricing can be listed as a “cost per acre” or a “cost per head per day”. Farmers can also provide their preferred contact information. Livestock producers can search the Crop Residue Exchange database for grazing available within a radius for the location of interest, but must be logged in to view the contact information attached to each listing.

Crop producers who have previously listed crop residue available for grazing are encouraged to log in and update their listings on the Crop Residue Exchange for the 2020-2021 fall and winter grazing season. Livestock producers can save their searches and receive an email notification when a crop producer lists something matching their criteria. In the past, there has been more searching for crop residue than available crop residue listings. When a crop producer creates a new listing, odds are good that livestock producers will receive an email letting them know.

The Crop Residue Exchange has expanded the geographical reach to include large portions of the states that surround Nebraska. Crop producers in much of Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota can now list fields they have available for grazing. This makes it easier to use and link cattle producers with available grazing resources.


Megan Taylor, NE Extension Educator, Platte County

Testing forages gives you answers when it comes to utilization, but what test is right for your operation?
The two primary components that any forage test needs to supply are a measure of energy and protein content.  Energy is usually measured in Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN) and protein is labeled as is, or crude protein (CP).  Because moisture content of samples can vary widely, the focus of the results should be on the dry matter basis.  Most lab analysis will provide these measures in a basic forage analysis package.
In certain circumstances, producers may test for key minerals or nitrates.  A mineral package may not be required for every sample submitted, but can be crucial.  In cases where minerals are oversupplied, a custom mineral supplement may omit the unneeded mineral, saving cost.  Both over and undersupplied key minerals can cause a host of production and reproductive issues that knowing about, we can plan ahead to address.  Stressed plants, especially annual crops, have the potential to accumulate high levels of nitrate, so running an additional nitrate test on these species is crucial.
Finally, what type of test needs to be completed? In some labs, wet chemistry tests are the only option.  These are the traditional method for determining nutrient levels and are arguably the most accurate option available, especially for mineral analysis. However, may labs have begun offering near-infrared spectrometry (NIRS). These tests use a laser to “read” the sample and compare it to a databank of known similar samples built upon regression calibration that can approximate wet chemistry tests quickly and cheaply. NIRS works best with single species samples and is more accurate with popular forages.
Ultimately, which test you choose depends on number of samples, cost, species, and ability of labs to test samples. NIRS would work well if you were testing many samples, needed quick results, and a pure stand of a popular forage, like alfalfa. Wet chemistry would work well if you had fewer samples, were testing for minerals, and were working with a more novel forage.

State Senator Joni Albrecht Receives Nebraska Farm Bureau-PAC Endorsement

Nebraska State Senator Joni Albrecht has received the endorsement of the Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Political Action Committee (NEFB-PAC) in her bid for re-election to serve the citizens of Legislative District 17. The NEFB-PAC endorsement is based on candidate’s positions on agriculture and rural issues and recommendations from district evaluation committees.

“Joni has first-hand experience with how farm and ranch families are impacted by state policies and regulations. It is critical to have people like Joni elected to the Legislature who know agriculture and the important economic role it plays in rural communities and our state’s broader economy,” said Mark McHargue of Central City, chairman of NEFB-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

According to McHargue, Albrecht has been a strong advocate for Farm Bureau priorities such as lowering property taxes, working to expand broadband and e-connectivity, and growing opportunities for economic development in rural areas.

“We’re pleased to support Joni as she seeks re-election. We look forward to continuing to work with her for the betterment of Nebraska,” said McHargue.

State Senator Bruce Bostelman Receives Nebraska Farm Bureau-PAC Endorsement

Nebraska State Senator Bruce Bostelman has received the endorsement of the Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Political Action Committee (NEFB-PAC) in his bid for re-election to serve the citizens of Legislative District 23. The NEFB-PAC endorsement is based on candidate’s positions on agriculture and rural issues and recommendations from district evaluation committees.

“Sen. Bostelman has been an advocate for reducing the property tax burden on Nebraskans from the first moment he stepped foot in the legislative chamber. Property tax relief and tax reform is of the highest priority to our members. We greatly appreciate his work and commitment in this area,” said Mark McHargue of Central City, chairman of NEFB-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

According to McHargue, Bostelman has provided a strong rural voice in the body, at a time when fewer and fewer Nebraskans have a direct connection to the day-to-day issues that face Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.

“Bruce brings real-life agriculture experience to the State Capitol. The importance of that cannot be understated. We are pleased to count Sen. Bostelman among those receiving the NEFB-PAC endorsement,” said McHargue.

Former State Senator Mike Flood Receives NEFB-PAC Endorsement

Mike Flood, a former State Senator and a candidate to represent District 19 in the Nebraska Legislature, has received the endorsement of the Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Political Action Committee (NEFB-PAC). The NEFB-PAC endorsements are based on candidate’s positions on agriculture and rural issues and recommendations from district evaluation committees.

“Having former experience as a state senator and serving as the Speaker of the Legislature during his previous term make him a great candidate to represent the people of District 19. Mike is a businessman and understands the important role agriculture plays in the state’s economy,” said Mark McHargue of Central City, chairman of NEFB-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

According to McHargue, Flood’s proven leadership as a former Speaker of the Legislature and his continued support of obtaining tax relief make him well qualified to serve in the Legislature.

“Mike shares our member’s belief that reforms are needed in Nebraska’s tax system and we are pleased to share our support for Mike as he seeks to represent District 19 in the Nebraska Legislature,” said McHargue.

According to McHargue, Flood has been a strong advocate for Farm Bureau priorities such as lowering property taxes, working to expand broadband and e-connectivity, as well as growing opportunities for economic development in rural areas.

“We’re pleased to support Mike as he seeks election in District 19. We encourage Nebraska Farm Bureau members to support Mike and we look forward to working with him for the betterment of Nebraska,” said McHargue.

National Organic Standards Board New Members Announced for 2021

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the appointment of five new members to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). “It’s always hard to say goodbye to outgoing members who have given so much of their time as volunteers. We appreciate their great service and contributions to the organic community,” said Deputy Administrator Jennifer Tucker, who heads the USDA National Organic Program. “And, it’s always exciting to welcome new members. They always bring so much passion and fresh energy to the table.”

The NOSB is made up of 15 volunteer members representing the organic community. New members announced today will serve five-year terms beginning in January 2021.

Amy Bruch
is a sixth-generation farmer and president of Cyclone Farms, an organic family farm in York, Nebraska. She has nearly 20 years of experience in agriculture, including agricultural business management, regulatory compliance, operational improvements, and transitioning farms to new crops and to organic production. Career highlights include interning at the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, working as a systems engineer at General Mills, and consulting internationally. Bruch holds a BS in Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering from Iowa State University. She has a background and expertise in certification, compliance, crops, and National List materials. Bruch will serve in a Farmer seat.

Logan Petrey is a fourth-generation farmer from South Georgia. She is the southeast organic ranch manager of 2,000 acres for Grimmway Farms locations in Georgia and Florida and has grown over thirty different organic crops. Prior to Grimmway, she worked as an agronomist and organic farm manager with Generation Farms; and as a field technician for Robinson Fresh where she worked with farms along the East Coast and Midwest. She serves on the Board of Directors for Florida Organic Growers and is a member of the United Fresh Working Group. She has a B.A. in Biology from Valdosta State University and a Master of Plant Protection and Pest Management from the University of Georgia. Petrey will serve in a Farmer seat.

Dr. Carolyn Dimitri is an applied economist and is currently a member of the faculty at New York University. She has extensive experience with the USDA, working for more than a decade at the Economic Research Service where she authored numerous reports on many aspects of the organic sector, including consumer expectations and attitudes about organic food. She currently serves as an Executive Board member for the Organic Farming Research Foundation, as a scientific advisor to the Organic Center, and is knowledgeable about many of the most pressing issues related to the organic standards and National List materials. Dimitri will serve in a Public/Consumer Interest Seat.

Brian Caldwell has been involved in organic agriculture for more than 40 years as an educator, researcher, and farmer. In 1983, he served as a founding member of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) and has remained active in the organization serving as staff from 2002-2005, an educator at winter conferences, and a member. He spent many years working for Cornell University, first as the vegetable and fruit specialist for Cornell Cooperative Extension, and then as a field manager and researcher for the Cornell Organic Cropping Systems project. Mr. Caldwell has operated an organic farm in West Danby, NY since 1978 and has a deep understanding of organic standards. As an educator, farmer, and longstanding NOFA-NY member, he understands consumer perspectives well. Caldwell will serve in a Public/Consumer Interest Seat.

Kyla Smith is the Certification Director for Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO), a USDA-accredited certifying agent. In this position, she assures that PCO and its mission, programs and services are consistently presented with transparency and integrity to relevant stakeholders in adherence with PCO’s strategic plan, as well as oversees the certification, inspection and material teams. During her 17-year tenure with PCO, she has also worked as an organic inspector, materials specialist, and reviewer; and held leadership positions for six years as the chair and vice chair of the Accredited Certifiers Association Board of Directors. She has extensive knowledge of the USDA organic regulations and the work of the NOSB. She holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Arts in Transformative Leadership and Social Change from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. Smith will serve in the USDA-accredited certifier seat.
About the NOSB

The NOSB is a Federal Advisory Board established under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990. The Board operates in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act to assist in developing standards for substances used in organic production and to advise the Secretary on aspects of the National Organic Program. Learn more about NOP and the Board on our website at www.ams.usda.gov/organic.

Organic Outlook: U.S. Organic Industry Growth Looks Strong for the Year Ahead

As the number of certified organic farm in the U.S. continues to grow, so too has organic consumer demand. The gap between these two will be critical over the year to come.
September 28, 2020 (SILVER SPRING, MD) – More land and operations have converted to USDA certified organic production over 2020, expanding the footprint of organics within U.S. agriculture according to the newly released Mercaris Commodity Outlook for 2020/21.
Mercaris, the nation’s leading market data service and online trading platform for organic, non-GMO and certified agricultural commodities, today released its annual outlook.

“The role of organic in U.S. agriculture continues to expand, bolstered by growing consumer preferences and challenging markets for conventionally grown commodities,” said Ryan Koory, Director of Economics for Mercaris. “And 2020 appears to be a clear reflection of this, as many crops are projected to see harvested acres reach record levels this year.”

In total, Mercaris estimates U.S. harvested organic field crop area will exceed 3.4 million acres over the 2020/21 MY, up 4% y/y. In addition to more harvested acres, the 2020/21 yield outlook for many key U.S. organic crops is expected to rebound following 2019/20’s dismal planting and harvest weather conditions.

With larger U.S. organic commodity supplies on the horizon, growth in organic livestock production and feed demand will be critical over 2020/21. Following the rapid global spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, supply chains, trade partners, and U.S. households found themselves in an unpredictable new world. Despite this, U.S. organic consumer demand appears to have held up over 2019/20, with both organic broiler and turkey meat production achieving y/y growth.

“The expansion in organic turkey production this year has been nothing short of phenomenal. We estimate the daily rate of organic turkey slaughter jumped 147% over the past year. From 5,600 head per day over August 2019, to 13,800 head per day over August 2020. Maintaining Augusts’ slaughter rate alone is enough to significantly expand total organic turkey slaughter over 2020/21” said Koory.

Furthermore, Mercaris anticipates that U.S. consumer markets for organic protein will continue to expand in the 2020/21 MY, however this outlook is largely dependent on the strength of the U.S. economy and consumer demand over the year to come.
Additional findings from Mercaris Commodity Outlook include:
     Mercaris estimates the number of certified organic operations in the U.S. will reach 19,888 over 2020/21, a 4% increase y/y.
    Organic corn livestock feed use is projected to increase 6% y/y over the 2020/21 MY as organic poultry production continues to boost demand for U.S. organic grain feed.
    U.S. organic soybean crush is projected to increase 13% y/y over 2020/21 as organic soybean meal imports plateau, and livestock feed demand continues to expand.
    U.S. non-GMO soybean planted area expanded 19% y/y over 2020.
    U.S. non-GMO corn planted area increased 8% y/y over 2020.

Bayer’s XtendFlex Soybeans Gain Final Key Regulatory Approval

Bayer announced today that the European Commission has authorized XtendFlex soybean technology for food, feed, import and processing in the European Union. This milestone represents the final key authorization for XtendFlex soybeans. With this approval in hand, Bayer can now look forward to a full launch in the United States and Canada in 2021 and expects to be in a strong position to supply 20 million U.S. soy acres when the selling season arrives.

“XtendFlex soybeans will be Bayer’s second major product launch in soybeans in the last 5 years,” said Lisa Safarian, President of Crop Science North America. “The upcoming launch in 2021 highlights the strength of the Bayer soybean pipeline, as well as the investment that Bayer continues to make in our soybean portfolio and the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System. XtendFlex soybeans are the latest example of Bayer developing innovative products to help farmers meet challenges on their farm.”

XtendFlex soybeans, Bayer’s newest soybean technology, are built upon the high-yielding Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean technology that growers have grown to trust with the additional tolerance to glufosinate herbicides. XtendFlex soybeans provide growers with additional flexibility to manage tough-to-control and resistant weeds.  

“We’ve seen great demand for XtendFlex soybeans from our customers,” said Lisa Streck, Bayer soybean launch lead. “Based on that demand, we’ve developed a supply plan to meet the market demand in 2021, across all maturities, Bayer brands and licensees. We expect the launch of XtendFlex to match the launch scale of Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, which were planted on 20 million acres in their first year of commercial availability. This technology offers outstanding yield potential and weed control flexibility that will benefit soybean farmers across the U.S.”

Friday, September 25, 2020

Friday September 25 Cattle on Feed + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.28 million cattle on feed on September 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 6% from last year. Placements during August totaled 505,000 head, up 13% from 2019. Fed cattle marketings for the month of August totaled 435,000 head, down 5% from last year. Other disappearance during August totaled 10,000 head, down 5,000 head from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 610,000 head on September 1, 2020, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was down 2% from August, and down 3% from September 1, 2019. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 485,000 head on feed, down 3% from last month but up 1% from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,095,000 head, down 2% from last month and down 1% from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during August totaled 75,000 head, up 19% from July and up 6% from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 42,000 head, up 20% from July but down 18% from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 117,000 head, up 19% from July but down 4% from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during August totaled 83,000 head, up 19% from July and up 20% from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 54,000 head, down 7% from July and down 30% from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 137,000 head, up 7% from July but down 6% from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 5,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 4 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.4 million head on September 1, 2020. The inventory was 4 percent above September 1, 2019. This is the highest September 1 inventory since the series began in 1996.

By State  (1,000 hd)  Sept 1 '20   -  % of Sept 1 '19

Colorado .......:               1,040          112                 
Iowa .............:                  610           97                  
Kansas ..........:                2,470          106               
Nebraska ......:                2,280          106               
Texas ............:                2,850          104               

Placements in feedlots during August totaled 2.06 million head, 9 percent above 2019. Net placements were 2.00 million head. During August, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 405,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 335,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 470,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 522,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 230,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 95,000 head.

By State -              (1,000 hd  -  % Aug '19)

Colorado .......:            180           106             
Iowa .............:              75           106             
Kansas ..........:             540           123             
Nebraska ......:             505           113             
Texas ............:             440           101             

Marketings of fed cattle during August totaled 1.89 million head, 3 percent below 2019.  Other disappearance totaled 55,000 head during August, 10 percent below 2019.

By State -              (1,000 hd  -  % Aug '19)

Colorado .......:              155            76              
Iowa .............:                83           120             
Kansas ..........:               470           109              
Nebraska ......:               435            95              
Texas ............:               430            96              

LENRD board officially declares a district-wide drought

At their September meeting, the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Board of Directors voted to officially declare a drought across the district, which is comprised of all or parts of 15 counties in northeast Nebraska.  The LENRD board will continue to meet and discuss potential plans to respond if conditions worsen to a D4 drought.  Their Drought Mitigation Plan is used to protect the health and welfare of the public as directed by the LENRD’s Groundwater Management Plan.

In other business, the board voted to establish the average cost of Deep Soil Sampling for Fiscal Year 2021 as $55.99 per sample and to limit the number of cost-shareable samples to 1 sample per every 25 acres.

The board approved a contract with Derek and Austin Becker of Norfolk to complete Flow Meter Preventative Maintenance Services in the LENRD’s portion of Knox, Cedar, Dixon, Wayne, and Thurston Counties.

The board also certified 129 parcels of irrigated acres at the certification hearing held during the board meeting.

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, October 22nd at 7:30 p.m.  Watch for further updates and stay connected with the LENRD by subscribing to their monthly emails.

Power line safety important for farmers heading into fall harvest

While many Nebraskans are dusting off their fall clothes in preparation for the cool autumn weather, farmers are headed to their fields to begin the annual harvest. Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) wants to remind large equipment operators to keep safety front of mind and “Look up and Look Out” for power lines as they head back to the fields.

NPPD Vice-President of Energy Delivery Art Wiese says coming close to, or hitting, power lines becomes a significant hazard during the harvest season. “It’s easy for an equipment operator to accidentally get a piece of equipment too close to a powerline or even make contact if they are not aware of their surroundings,” noted Wiese. “If large equipment gets too close to a power line, electricity can arc from the line to the equipment, potentially causing major damage and severe injury to the operator.”

NPPD encourages equipment operators to keep their machines 20 feet away from power lines to avoid the possibility of any electricity arcing from the line to the equipment.

If a power line falls onto a vehicle or piece of equipment, anyone inside the vehicle should remain there until help can arrive and deenergize the power line. When a powerline is touching a vehicle or lying on the ground, it can electrify both the vehicle and the ground in the surrounding area. If a fire forces you to exit the vehicle then do so by jumping away from the vehicle, landing on two feet and shuffling as far away from the area as possible.

“If a power line is touching a vehicle, anyone inside the vehicle should avoid touching both the ground and the vehicle at the same time. If someone were to do this, it could result in serious or fatal injuries,” NPPD Transmission and Distribution Construction and Maintenance Manager Scott Walz said. “Taking the precautionary effort to look up and look out for powerlines can promote a safe work environment, and our hope is that everyone working this harvest season can do so in a safe manner.”

- Each day review all farm activities and work practices that will take place around power lines and remind all workers to take precautions

- Know the location of power lines and when setting up the farm equipment, be at least 20 feet away from them. Contact your local public power provider if you feel this distance cannot be achieved.

- Use caution when raising augers or the bed of a grain truck or wagon. It can be difficult to estimate distance, and sometimes a power line is closer than it looks. For large equipment, use a spotter to make certain the equipment stays a safe distance from the line.

- Always adjust portable augers or elevators to their lowest possible level – under 14 feet – before transporting them. Variables like wind, uneven ground or shifting weight can cause unexpected results.

NPPD recommends that farmers review the following safety precautions before entering the fields to begin harvest operations, or for more details and video footage follow this link:


A webinar scheduled for noon on Thursday will present the findings of a new University of Nebraska-Lincoln study on the impact of the Nebraska agricultural production complex, to be released on the same day.

Agriculture is a pillar of the Nebraska economy, with the state’s total net farm income accounting for a little over 5% of total personal income, on average. This ranks Nebraska third-highest of the 50 states — and highest for any state with a population over 1 million.

This study is a joint collaborative effort of the Department of Agricultural Economics and the Bureau of Business Research within the Department of Economics and is funded internally by the university’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. It draws on substantial expertise in key issues affecting agriculture such as irrigation, natural resources, the agricultural equipment industry and community economic development.

The webinar will be led by Dr. Brad Lubben, associate professor and extension policy specialist in the Department of Agricultural Economics, and Dr. Eric Thompson, Karl H. Nelson Assoicate Professor of Economics and director of the Bureau of Business Research. It is being presented by the extension Farm and Ranch Management team in the Department of Agricultural Economics as part of its weekly webinar series.

Registration for the webinar is free and can be completed at farm.unl.edu/webinars.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Reminds Us It’s Harvest Time Safety First

As we move into the fall of 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic still upon us, it is a year we won’t soon forget. Students may or may not be back in the classroom and we all may be either working from home or may be back at the office. But farmers and ranchers are working to move cattle and to start on harvest.

As the uncertainty of 2020 lingers through the year, this is a time when we especially need to slow down and pay more attention on farms, ranches, and on roads and highways.

Here are a few tips to remember as we see, large slow-moving machines on our roads coming in and out of fields across the state.

    Farmers: Get plenty of rest and slow down to avoid accidents on the farm. Don’t hurry through equipment repairs, take your time with backing up large pieces of machinery, keep your hands away and don’t wear loose clothing around moving auger parts.

    Drivers: Drive without distractions. We hear it all the time: Don’t text or check your smartphone while driving. But distracted driving continues to be a leading cause of vehicular accident and during harvest time it could be especially dangerous as there may be more slow-moving vehicles on our roads and highways.

    Farmers: If you’re driving farm equipment on public roads, it’s especially important that you’re clearly marked so motorists can see you in time to slow down — considering you’re probably driving less than 25 MPH. Make sure your lights are working and that all reflecting tape and slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblems are properly placed. Remember to wipe down some of these safety features if your equipment is dusty to ensure they can be seen. Also use flashers on public roads.

    Drivers: If you are following behind a slow-moving vehicle, please play it safe and wait to safely pass and remember slow moving vehicles usually go from one field or pasture to another and turning may take extra time, so be patient. Most farmers will do their best to create space so you can pass, but awareness of where you’re driving and patience on everybody’s part is the best way to keep the roads safe during harvest season.

In the fall, harvest time can be one of the busiest and most dangerous seasons of the year for the agriculture industry. Remember, we share our roads and highways and in 2020 if we work together, we can keep everyone safe.


Brad Schick, NE Extension Educator
Cover crops can provide great fall and early winter forage for grazing before killing frosts stop growth. After the cover crop winter freezes, turns brown, and does not look “good” is it still good quality?
Oats and brassicas planted in late summer and early fall will change in quality from October through January, but it might be less than we would expect. With an oat and brassica mix the plants will likely die in the late fall after several hard-freezing temperature events. Growing oats will have 60 to 75% Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN) and have 12 to 20% Crude Protein (CP). Turnips and other brassicas will have a 70 to 80% TDN and 14 to 22% CP. This makes great grazing for any class of livestock.
A study at UNL looked at forage quality of stockpiled oats and brassicas progressing from fall growth into the winter. The mix was planted early September and late August in southern Nebraska. After the forage had died it was sampled again, in mid-January. The oats still had 15% CP and between 61 and 71% TDN. The entire brassica plants were 72% TDN and 14-24% CP and the leaves alone were 25% CP.
At this point in the year, planting a fall forage crop may not produce much due to the low number of growing degree days left. However, the point to consider is if there is some growth potential,  stockpiling or deferring grazing will maximize production without sacrificing very much quality.
To review: Oats and brassicas maintain forage quality well into the winter. This allows to defer grazing to have more quantity and still high quality.

Free Farm and Ag Law Clinics Set for October

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

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

COVID-19: For the time being the clinics are being conducted as conference calls or as Zoom meetings.  It is therefore possible to attend a clinic from any location in the state. In-person clinics are expected to resume in the near future, at which time locations will be announced.

Clinic Sites and Dates

    Wednesday, October 14th
    Thursday, October 21st

To sign up for a free clinic or to get more information, call the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.  Funding for this work is provided by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and Legal Aid of Nebraska.

Chief Ethanol Now Producing USP Grade Ethanol

Chief Ethanol Fuels, Inc. (Chief Ethanol) is currently producing USP Grade Ethanol from its ethanol plant in Hastings, Nebraska. Chief Ethanol has modified its current process operations to produce higher grades of ethanol for use as the active ingredient in hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 health emergency as allowed by the US Food and Drug Administration. Chief Ethanol is able to provide long-term supply of higher grades of ethanol into industrial alcohol markets. This includes Specially Denatured Alcohol that passes FCC and USP purity testing.

“We ambitiously set out to provide the higher purity needed to help with the COVID-19 hand sanitizer shortage. We were able to utilize the plant’s unique design and operational flexibility to quickly pivot to meet the increased demand for high purity ethanol,” said Duane Kristensen, Vice President of Operations for Chief Ethanol. The plant is capable of providing close to 10 million gallons per year of higher purity ethanol with plans for increased production. The plant has two 250,000 gallon dedicated storage tanks to help meet customer needs immediately.

“The transformation of one of the nation’s first ethanol plants to a modern industrial and fuel alcohol biorefinery, along with the superior location with access to BNSF and UP rails, provides a bright and promising future for our stakeholders,” added Kristensen. "We hope to continue to promote long term relationships with our existing and new industrial alcohol customers that will provide longevity in the supply chains of consumer products.”   

Nebraska Corn Growers Association Welcomes EPA Decision on Atrazine

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) welcomed an announcement on Friday from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on an interim decision regarding the reregistration of atrazine. After over 60 years of use and 7,000 research studies EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler declared atrazine, along with propazine and simazine, safe for continued use in controlling resistant weeds. This interim decision is a major milestone for Nebraska’s corn farmers.

“The announcement is a key step forward for Nebraska’s corn farmers during a time of economic uncertainty,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. “Without this decision, costs of replacement weed control products would add between an additional $29 to nearly $60 an acre for producers. Something our industry just can’t afford.”

Friday’s announcement concludes the registration review process where EPA is required to periodically re-evaluate existing pesticides. During this process, NeCGA’s grassroots efforts submitted thousands of comments from Nebraska corn farmers in support of the product. The next step for the triazines is a draft biological evaluation required under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which is expected to be published in October.

“This is not the last time that the EPA will review atrazine. On behalf of our members, NeCGA will keep a watchful eye going forward, ensuring that agriculture has a voice in the process and that the agencies involved utilize high-quality, scientific studies,” said Brunkhorst. “The EPA stated again today that they will use the best available research when making determinations. Something we have long advocated for.”

Nebraska Corn Welcomes Next Generation Fuels Act

The Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association today said legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives will boost long term corn demand for clean, affordable ethanol. The Next Generation Fuels Act recognizes the high octane, low carbon benefits of corn ethanol.

“The benefits of higher blends of ethanol are numerous and we have the potential to make our fuels even better,” said Dan Nerud, president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. “Ethanol is a natural octane booster. Low carbon, high octane ethanol blends result in additional fuel efficiency and they greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Next Generation Fuels Act establishes a new 98 Research Octane Number (RON) standard for gasoline and requires sources of additional octane result in at least 30% fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than unblended gasoline. This will ensure the progress already made to lower emissions through cleaner renewable fuels continues. Through advanced engine design features that take advantage of this new fuel, automakers will be able to increase engine performance and significantly improve vehicle fuel efficiency.

A new 98 RON would support mid-level blends like E25 (a 25% ethanol blend) and E30 (a 30% ethanol blend) which would generate new corn grind.

Due to its high-octane rating and other properties, ethanol is an efficient octane source. It is also the most cost-effective octane source, providing the greatest efficiency gains at the least cost to drivers while displacing the most harmful components of gasoline.
“The Next Generation Fuels Act is a step in the right direction in supporting our state’s corn farmers, but also providing clean-burning, high efficiency fuels for the American people,” said David Bruntz, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from Friend. “Ethanol greatly benefits consumers, our environment and our state. It’s time we remove regulatory barriers to enable the benefits of higher ethanol blends.”

Iowa Corn Growers Association Welcomes Next Generation Fuels Act

The Iowa Corn Growers Association® (ICGA) welcomes legislation introduced yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives that will boost long-term corn demand for clean, affordable ethanol. The Next Generation Fuels Act recognizes the high octane, low carbon benefits of corn ethanol.

“The introduction of the Next Generation Fuels Act is welcome news not only for corn farmers but also for consumers,” said ICGA President Carl Jardon. “Ethanol blends in the range of E25 allow drivers to travel further with fewer fill-ups and fewer harmful emissions due to providing an efficient and cost-effective higher octane level. ICGA is looking forward to working with elected officials to see the Next Generation Fuels Act through.”

The Next Generation Fuels Act establishes a new 98 Research Octane Number (RON) standard for gasoline and requires that sources of additional octane result in at least 30 percent fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than unblended gasoline. This will ensure the progress already made to lower emissions through cleaner renewable fuels continues. Through advanced engine design features that take advantage of this new fuel, automakers will be able to increase engine performance and significantly improve vehicle fuel efficiency. A new 98 RON would support mid-level blends like E25 and E30 which would generate new corn grind.

The Next Generation Fuels Act is sponsored by Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Illinois). ICGA looks forward to working with our representatives in Washington to continue to build support for policies that take greater advantage of ethanol’s benefits.

Iowa's Best Burger Named At The Twisted Tail

The Twisted Tail in BeeBeeTown is well known for its ribs, which won first prize in the 2013 Iowa State Fair Farm Bureau Cookoff. And now, the restaurant can add “Iowa’s Best Burger” to its list of awards.

The western Iowa restaurant has been owned by Ed and Ruth Spencer since 2011, and is managed by two of their three children, Luke and Hannah. In addition to the restaurant, the family also farms and runs a real estate and auction business.

Throughout the past few months, the family has worked together to ensure that their patrons have been able to continue enjoying the Twisted Tail’s delicious meals. “You will often see the grandchildren helping bus tables on Friday and Saturday nights,” says Hannah (Spencer) Johnsen.

During the COVID shutdown the restaurant operated on a takeout only basis from March 18th to May 13th, however, they are now open again for dine in and takeout. All tables are at least six feet apart, and the former reception and party rooms now hold tables to allow for more social distancing between customers.

Ed’s love for history and antiques and their auction business  has contributed to the decor and atmosphere of the restaurant. Antiques, memorabilia and reminders of BeeBeeTown’s history are scattered throughout the restaurant and bar areas.

Made out of 80% lean ground chuck, the winning burger patty is simply seasoned, allowing the true flavor of the meat to shine. The Certified Angus Beef is all locally sourced.

Eleven different burgers are featured on the menu, all using the same 8 oz. (half pound) patty. In addition to the burgers, the Steak Philly, Prime Rib French Dip, and Filet are all fan favorites.
The Best Burger Contest

This is the 11th year for the annual Best Burger contest sponsored by the Iowa Beef Industry Council, through the Iowa State Beef Checkoff Program, and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. The Twisted Tail Steakhouse & Saloon joins a great group of past best burger winners from around the state. Along with last year’s winner, Wood Iron Grille of Oskaloosa, previous winners include: 2018 - CafĂ© Beaudelaire; 2017- The Smokin’ Hereford BBQ of Storm Lake; 2016 - The Chuckwagon Restaurant in Adair; 2015 - The Cider House of Fairfield; 2014 - Brick City Grill in Ames; 2013 - 61 Chop House Grille in Mediapolis; 2012 - Coon Bowl III in Coon Rapids; 2011 - Rusty Duck in Dexter; and 2010 - Sac County Cattle Company of Sac City.

The designation as Iowa’s Best Burger comes after a two-phase competition. The first phase took place entirely based on votes from the public. For a month starting back in February, burger lovers went online and voted for their favorite Iowa burger, submitting nearly 7,000 votes representing around 630 restaurants. At the end of March, the ten restaurants with the most votes were declared the “Top 10.”

From there, three anonymous judges visit each of the restaurants, focusing on the burger patties and scoring them based on taste, doneness and presentation.

The final judging occurred in August and September, and the winner was revealed on September 21.

If you go:
Address: 2849 335th St, BeeBeeTown (Logan), Iowa 51546
BeeBeeTown is located 9 miles from Missouri Valley, 9 miles from Logan, 10 miles from Neola and 16 miles from Council Bluffs. Use exit #8 on I-880.
Hours:  Wednesday - Sunday: 11 am - 9 pm
Reservations are encouraged for evening dining.

Wild Weather Year the Topic of September 30 Webinar

Iowa Learning Farms will host a webinar on Wednesday, Sept. 30 at noon about Iowa’s weather in 2020.

“With 95-99% of Iowa experiencing abnormal dryness or drought and 57 counties affected by the derecho, most Iowans have been impacted by this year’s wild weather,” said Justin Glisan, the state climatologist of Iowa.

During this webinar, Glisan will discuss initial drought formation and expansion across western Iowa, as well as the short and long-term impacts of the drought on the growing season and crop production. Additionally, he will discuss the severe derecho that moved through Iowa on Aug. 10, producing widespread damage in rural and urban areas, including the extreme drought region in west-central Iowa.

As state climatologist, Glisan’s responsibilities include quality control of Iowa weather observations, weekly recommendations to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and weekly and monthly climate summaries for state stakeholders. Glisan also advises the Iowa secretary of agriculture on climatological matters that impact the agricultural sector, such as how trends in precipitation and temperature are changing.

Iowa’s weather and climate observations, which date back to 1872, help tell the story of Iowa agriculture and how resilient and innovative the state’s farmers are and have been.

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before noon on Sept. 30, click this URL, or type this web address into your internet browser: https://iastate.zoom.us/j/364284172

Or, go to https://iastate.zoom.us/join and enter meeting ID: 364 284 172. Or, join from a dial-in phone line by dialing: +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 876 9923; meeting ID: 364 284 172.

The webinar will also be recorded and archived on the ILF website, so that it can be watched at any time. Archived webinars are available online.

A Certified Crop Adviser board-approved continuing education unit has been applied for, for those who are able to participate in the live webinar. Information about how to apply to receive the unit (if approved) will be provided at the end of the live webinar.

Dairy Market Report - September 2020

U.S. milk production is one of several key components of the dairy situation and outlook whose behavior in this unusual year has produced decidedly unique patterns of milk and dairy product prices in 2020. When combined with unusual market behavior among key dairy components, producers are experiencing a roller-coaster ride requiring a strong stomach, and great patience, as markets eventually return to normal.

Still, the economic outlook is much brighter than in the darkest days of the spring, and some of the most visible emblems of recent turmoil – namely negative Producer Price Differentials (PPDs) in milk checks – should soon fade.

Milk production growth in the nation has zigzagged this year from +1.3% in January, to +2.8% in March, to -0.5% in May and back to +2.0% in July. Other actors in dairy’s strange drama have been sales of dairy products at retail, which have been stronger than usual; use of dairy products in food service and institutions, which have been weaker than usual but fluctuating; government purchases of dairy products for food assistance use, which have been much larger than usual; and finally, government direct payments to dairy farmers, which have no recent historical precedent.

All this has led to wild fluctuations in average U.S. milk-price results as reported by USDA: $18.00/cwt. in March, $13.60 in May, and $20.50 in July. June and July also saw record high negative PPDs in federal orders, due to the interaction of the resulting unusual fluctuation of dairy product prices.

U.S. dairy exports have been a particular bright spot this year. The country exported more than 17 percent of its total milk solids production during May, June and July, only the second time that exports have exceeded this benchmark for three consecutive months (February through May 2018 holds that record). The United States exported close to three-quarters of total commercial use of dry skim milk during the 12 months through July, a significantly higher percentage of this key product’s commercial use exported than any previous consecutive 12-month period.

Read the full report here:  https://www.nmpf.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Dairy-Market-Report-September-2020.pdf.  

USDA Reminds Farmers of September 30 Deadline to Update Safety-Net Program Crop Yields

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds farm owners of the September 30 deadline to update Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program yields for covered commodities on the farm. This is a one-time opportunity for producers to update yields, which are used to calculate 2020 through 2023 payments.

“Don’t miss this one-time opportunity to update yields for the Price Loss Coverage program,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “Please contact your FSA county office to schedule an appointment.”

Updating yields requires the signature of one owner on a farm and not all owners. If a yield update is not made, no action is required to maintain the existing base crop yield on file with FSA.

For program payments, updated yields will apply beginning with the 2020 crop year which, should payments trigger, will be paid in October 2021. Additionally, recently published updates to the payment limitation and eligibility provisions for Farm Bill programs do not impact payments from ARC and PLC for the 2019 crop year or the 2020 crop year.

The updated yield will be equal to 90% of the average yield per planted acre in crop years 2013-2017. That excludes any year where the applicable covered commodity was not planted and is subject to the ratio obtained by dividing the 2008-2012 average national yield by the 2013-2017 average national yield for the covered commodity.

FSA published a final rule in August 2020 that made updates to payments limitations and payment eligibility for programs, many of which were directed by the 2018 Farm Bill. For ARC and PLC, these updates will not take effect until 2021 crop payments that will be made in October 2022.

NGFA, U.S. agriculture groups urge Trump to remain in the WTO  

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and 61 other U.S. agriculture stakeholders have urged the Trump administration to remain in the World Trade Organization (WTO), and for Congress to vote against any resolution that would end U.S. membership in the international trade body.

In a letter sent this week to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the groups emphasized support for efforts to reform WTO rules, noting that “improvement is needed” to hold WTO members accountable and improve the organizations’ governance, including the selection of a new director-general.

“Continued U.S. membership and active participation will help ensure that necessary reforms are undertaken…,” the letter states. “As long as exports are important to U.S. agriculture, WTO membership will be essential, as well.”

U.S. agriculture is heavily dependent on exports, the letter stated, with more than 20 percent of total U.S. agricultural production destined for foreign markets. The WTO grants U.S. agricultural exporters most-favored nation (MFN) treatment in 163 countries, representing more than 80 percent of the global economy. The trade body also provides rules to guard against arbitrary use of technical regulations to block imports, the groups noted.

Philippines Detects New ASF Outbreaks

The Philippines' Department of Agriculture said on Thursday it had detected new African swine fever outbreaks in six provinces, raising the possibility that the domestic pork shortfall anticipated by year-end will be bigger than initially expected.

A fresh wave of hog infections has hit the world's 10th-largest pork consumer and seventh-biggest pork importer, where more than 300,000 pigs have been culled since last year, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.

According to Reuters, new outbreaks have been detected in the provinces of Albay, Quirino, Laguna, Quezon, Batangas and Cavite on the main island of Luzon.

Dar did not detail the extent of new infections, but said a government-funded restocking programme and additional importation of pork and pork-based products from disease-free countries, which he did not identify, could help address domestic supply tightness.

The agriculture department has initially projected a domestic pork shortfall of 121,000 tonnes by year-end.

Philippine pork production is now expected to drop by 20% this year, according to an estimate from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, double its initial projection, because of the disease.

The impact on domestic demand, however, should be partly offset by limited operations of food services due to coronavirus restrictions, it said in a Sept. 21 advisory.

The number of pigs culled since last year accounts for about 3% of the country's total, but USDA has warned local supply problems may persist in 2021, citing industry sources.