Saturday, October 31, 2020

Friday October 30 Ag News

 Extension webinar to focus on ag lending trends, outlook

A Nebraska Extension webinar on Thursday Nov. 5 at noon will feature a panel of representatives from agricultural lending institutions in Nebraska discussing how the economic uncertainty in 2020 has impacted their businesses and customers across the state.

With wide swings in the stock market, employment, GDP and other economic indicators, 2020 may be one of the most volatile years since the Great Depression. The webinar will focus on how farm lending has changed in 2020 and what agricultural lenders who provide credit to Nebraska producers anticipate going forward

It will be moderated by Jeffrey R. Stokes, Hanson-Clegg-Allen Chair in Ag Banking and Finance in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Agricultural Economics. Panelists include: Mark Jensen, president and CEO of Farm Credit Services of America; Ben Herink, farm loan manager with the USDA Farm Service Agency; Ken Mehlin, executive vice president and chief credit officer of Bruning Bank; and Daryl Wilton, executive vice president and chief credit officer of Cornerstone Bank in York.

The webinar is presented as part of the Agricultural Economics Extension Farm and Ranch Management weekly series.

Registration is free at

Women Managing Ag Land Conference 2020

The second annual Women Managing Ag Land Conference will take place Dec. 2, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. CDT. The conference offers learning opportunities for female farmland owners and tenants looking to improve their business management skills and navigate the challenges of owning and renting agricultural land.

This hybrid event will allow participants the opportunity to attend one of three in-person locations or via Zoom. The keynote address, “Finding Happiness in the Craziness of Life,” will be delivered by Kathy Peterson, a farmer from Storm Lake, Iowa, and founder of PeopleWorks, Inc. She will also conduct a workshop, titled “Working with You is Killing Me!”

Peterson’s keynote and workshop will be broadcast live from the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead to meeting locations in Kearney and Scottsbluff.

The in-person locations are:
    Near Mead: Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center, 1071 County Road G, Ithaca
    Kearney: Holiday Inn Convention Center, 110 South 2nd Avenue
    Scottsbluff: Panhandle Research and Extension Center, 4502 Ave. I

Due to COVID-19, attendance at the three in-person locations will be limited, and health measures will be implemented. Participants may also live stream the event from their own device and location via Zoom.

Participants will also have access to on-demand workshops on owning and renting agricultural land including “Improve your Ag Lease by Improving the Landlord/Tenant Relationship” presented by Extension Educator Allan Vyhnalek, “NextGen A Win-Win for Beginning Farmers & Asset Owners” by Karla Bahm with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, “Navigating Uncertainty in 2021: Nebraska Land Values & Cash Rental Rates” with Agricultural Economist Jim Jansen, and more!

Registration on or before Nov. 18, is $25. Registration on or after Nov. 19 is $30. Registrations for in-person locations will close Nov. 29. Lunch will be included at each in-person site.  Registration and more information here:  

This conference is hosted by Nebraska Extension and inspired by Annie's Project. This material is based upon work supported by USDA-NIFA under Award Number 2020-70017-32735 and by Farm Credit Services of America.

Free Farm and Ag Law Clinics Set for November

Free legal and financial clinics are being offered for farmers and ranchers across the state in November 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 Dates
    Wednesday, November 4th
    Wednesday, November 11th
    Wednesday, November 18th

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.

Pro-Ag Outlook Series to Examine Trade, Financial Status and Market Outlook

The annual Pro Ag Outlook and Management meetings will be held virtually this year due to COVID-19 concerns. With a virtual format, participants will be able to hear from five Iowa State University Extension and Outreach economists. There will be one speaker each day from 1-2 p.m. from Dec. 7–11.

This webinar series will take an in-depth look into the outlook for agriculture in 2021 as producers, ag lenders, and suppliers start planning for next year. The webinar series is designed to provide participants with a concise evaluation of current market conditions, expected trends in crop and livestock income potential, and management implications. Time for participant questions will be included at the end of each day’s presentation.

Dates and speakers include:
    Dec. 7, Wendong Zhang, assistant professor in economics and extension economist, will be presenting on farmland values and issues of trade with China.
    Dec. 8, Alejandro Plastina, associate professor in economics and extension economist, will be presenting on farm finances and the impact of government support programs.
    Dec. 9, Lee Schulz, associate professor in economics and extension livestock economist, will be presenting the livestock outlook and profit potential for the beef, pork and dairy industries.
    Dec. 10, Keri Jacobs, associate professor in economics, extension economist and Iowa Institute for Cooperatives Endowed Economics Professor, will be presenting the financial and physical impacts of the 2020 derecho on cooperatives in Iowa.
    Dec. 11, Chad Hart, professor of economics, extension economist and crop markets specialist, will be presenting the current grain market situation, including global demand and key factors going into 2021.

The registration fee for access to all five live presentations is $20. Register online at

For more information, contact Ryan Drollette at 319-853-8624 or or visit

ISU Invites you to Learn about Crop Marketing - at your own pace.

Crop marketing is a non-credit professional certificate offered by Iowa State University that provides a learning opportunity for those who manage farm operations.

What was once exclusively a face-to-face workshop is now available for you to learn your own pace, available from anywhere in the world. We all rely on crop specialists, and this course uses active learning tools to give you that expertise courtesy of leaders in the industry from the Iowa Farm Bureau and Iowa State University Extension.

In this course, you will explore the topics of price movements, contracts, basis movements, option values, and creating a successful marketing plan. The class consists of video presentations, learning activities and educational quizzes.  A special emphasis is given to comprehensive planning and risk management.

This course is self-paced, with students completing the content in 4 weeks on average after registration. The course opens on November 10, 2020. You can progress through the course as fast or slow as you want, provided you complete the course content prior to March 15, 2021.

Iowa Farm Bureau & Iowa State University Extension

About the Instructors
Ed Kordick, Farmer Education Program Manager, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation
-    Thirty-seven year career in designing risk management education and information for Iowa farmers, including almost 30 years with Iowa Farm Bureau delivering educational programs.
-    Timely education delivered through creative methods, including in-person meetings and workshops, web delivery, print, and more.
-    Manages special projects designed to help farmers learn and be heard on agricultural issues at the state and national level.

Steve Johnson, ISU Extension Farm Management Specialist
-    Twenty-five years as a university Extension specialist presenting on a variety of crop market-related topics.
-    Presents annually at nearly 80 meetings with over 8,000 in attendance.
-    Maintains 3 active Ag Marketing Clubs and a Women Marketing Grain Series during the winter months with nearly 300 participants.

Chad Hart, Associate Professor of Economics and Extension Economist, Iowa State University
-   Crop market specialist for ISU Extension for 10 years.
-   Speaks to roughly 100 groups throughout the upper Midwest each year about ag markets and the factors that shape them.
-   Served as U.S. Policy and Insurance Analyst with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute.

Register here:  

IFBF statement on congressional efforts to eliminate combustion engine

Iowa Farm Bureau Federation President Craig Hill

"Last week, a group of U.S. senators introduced the Zero-Emission Vehicles Act of 2020, a truly disastrous proposition for Iowa farmers. Under this plan, by 2025 half of all new car sales must be zero emission vehicles and all vehicles would need to be zero emission by 2035. This legislation would spell disaster for Iowa farmers, the Iowa biofuels industry, rural Iowans and their communities. A recent study conducted by the University of Tennessee and released by the Agricultural Retailers Association found banning combustion vehicle sales by 2035 would devastate grain markets, pushing prices down to $1.74 a bushel for corn and $4.92 a bushel for soybeans. The study estimated America’s farm income would fall more than $27 billion if these non-market driven policies are adopted and would send shockwaves through Iowa communities whose livelihoods depend upon a strong ag economy.   

"Biofuels are an essential part of a climate-focused, sustainable solution to the world’s fuel needs that have helped America become energy independent. The use of ethanol and biodiesel have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 71 million metric tons in 2018 alone. That’s the equivalent of taking 17 million cars off the road. Biofuels support Iowa’s agricultural industry and are a major economic driver providing thousands of good, high-wage jobs in the rural areas of our state. Proposals like this threaten a critical industry in our state and would deal a crushing blow to farm families; these proposals underscore the need for Iowa farm families to aggressively push back against legislation that threaten our markets and livelihoods."


The U.S. and the U.K. need to complete talks on a new free trade agreement (FTA) before the administration’s Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) expires, Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told reporters Thursday. “It's very necessary that this is hurried along either in another Trump administration or in a Biden administration, because TPA…is going to phase out the middle of next year. And if it is not done by then, it’s questionable when it will get done,” he said.

The current TPA authorization expires on July 1, 2021, so a trade deal would have to be signed before then.  Earlier this month, the U.S. and the UK began their fifth round of trade talks, in the hopes of soon completing an FTA.

The National Pork Producers Council commented on the talks.  NPPC leaders say they are supportive of negotiations, provided the agreement eliminates tariff and non-tariff trade barriers on pork, the U.K. acknowledges meat industry standards as equivalent and they agree to import product from all federally inspected facilities.


On Thursday, the National Pork Producers Council provided comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on significant barriers that U.S. pork exports face in various countries. “The United States is the top global exporter of pork, shipping nearly 2.6 million metric tons, valued at over $6.9 billion to more than 100 nations in 2019. Gaining and expanding access to markets around the world is paramount to the continued success of the U.S. pork industry,” NPPC wrote in its comments.

Among the trade barriers outlined in the comments, Brazil has a de facto ban on U.S. pork that lacks any scientific justification and must be eliminated, U.S. pork exports to China face a 33 percent tariff and India remove its de facto ban on U.S. pork and pork products.

USTR is compiling comments as it begins drafting its 2021 National Trade Estimates Report on Foreign Trade Barriers.

USDA Extends Deadline for Public Comments on Recommendations for Pasture, Rangeland, Forage Rainfall Index Crop Insurance Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) today announced it is extending the deadline for public comments on recommended improvements to the Pasture, Rangeland, Forage (PRF) Rainfall Index Crop Insurance Program to December 21, 2020. RMA will review all comments and determine what recommendations should be implemented for the 2022 crop year.

“We want to be sure we get enough feedback from producers and other stakeholders on these proposed improvements, so we’re extending the comment deadline,” said RMA Administrator Martin Barbre. “These comments will help us fine tune the PRF program to ensure its integrity and protect producers and help them manage their risk.”

RMA contracted for an independent evaluation of the PRF program to determine its effectiveness as a risk management tool for livestock producers. The independent evaluation includes several recommendations, including:
    Adjusting the County Base Value (CBV) productivity range;
    Better targeting of indemnities;
    Focusing PRF on viable forage production areas;
    Focusing coverage on risk-reducing intervals;
    Taking an alternative approach to reducing frequent shallow losses; and
    Modifying the CBV.

Details on the recommendations are published in the PRF Contractors Report and the PRF Alternative Recommendations available on the RMA website for public review and comment. Comments can be submitted via email to or by mail to Director, Product Administration and Standards Division, Risk Management Agency, United States Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 419205, Kansas City, MO 64133-6205.

2020-21 National FFA Officer Team Elected During the Virtual 93rd National FFA Convention & Expo

Students from Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Missouri were elected by National FFA Delegates today to serve as 2020-21 National FFA Officers.

These members were selected from 38 candidates vying for the honor. Candidates take part in an extensive online interview process with the National FFA Officer Nominating Committee leading up to the selection. The new team was announced during the sixth general session of the 93rd National FFA Convention & Expo on Thursday, Oct. 29.

Doster Harper, an agriscience and environmental systems major at the University of Georgia, was elected national president.

Anna Mathis, an agricultural communication major at the University of Arkansas, was elected national secretary.

Paxton Dahmer, an agricultural education and leadership major at the University of Missouri – Columbia, was elected central region vice president.

Miriam Hoffman, an agribusiness economics major at Southern Illinois University, was elected eastern region vice president.

David Lopez, an agricultural communications major at California Polytechnic State, was elected western region vice president.

Artha Jonassaint, a government and global health major at Harvard, was elected southern region vice president.

Each year during the National FFA Convention & Expo, six students are elected by delegates to represent the organization as national officers. Delegates elect a president, secretary, and vice presidents representing the central, southern, eastern, and western regions of the country.

This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event was held virtually.

National officers commit to a year of service to the National FFA Organization. Throughout their year of service, the officers will interact with business and industry leaders; thousands of FFA members and teachers; corporate sponsors; government and education officials; state FFA leaders; the general public; and more. The team will lead personal growth and leadership training conferences for FFA members throughout the country and help set policies that will guide the future of FFA and the next generation of leaders.

Commodity Classic Announces Transition to Digital Experience

Commodity Classic has announced it will transition its annual conference and trade show, originally scheduled for March 4-6, 2021, in San Antonio, Texas, to an alternative digital format. The change was necessary due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The new format is expected to be offered the first week in March 2021.

“This is about doing the right thing for our farmers, exhibitors, stakeholders, and the broader community in terms of health and safety—which is our top priority,” said Anthony Bush, an Ohio corn farmer and co-chair of the 2021 Commodity Classic representing the National Corn Growers Association.  “After careful deliberation among our farmer-leaders and industry partners, the COVID-19 restrictions would prevent us from delivering the type of high-quality experience Commodity Classic attendees and exhibitors have come to expect and enjoy for the past 25 years.”

According to Brad Doyle, an Arkansas soybean farmer and co-chair of the 2021 Commodity Classic representing the American Soybean Association, directed health measures due to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic such as social distancing guidelines would prevent Commodity Classic from conducting the trade show, educational sessions, and farmer networking—each of which are hallmarks of Commodity Classic.  “Farmers and agribusiness companies rate Commodity Classic highly because of its unique energy, excitement and one-on-one engagement with agribusiness companies and fellow farmers,” he said. “The health and safety restrictions required will simply not allow us to provide a productive in-person event that is in keeping with our 25 years of being the nation’s best farmer-led, farmer-focused ag experience.”

The transition of the 2021 Commodity Classic offers an attractive opportunity for farmers who have never attended Commodity Classic, Doyle added.  “Now farmers from across the nation and even around the world can get a taste of the Commodity Classic experience without ever leaving their farms,” he said.

Jerry Johnson, Ag Sector Chair of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers said, “Agribusiness companies put Commodity Classic at the top of the list when it comes to opportunities to engage with farmers from across the nation,” he said.  “However, our concern for the health and safety of our customers and our employees takes precedence, so all of us in agribusiness will work with the farmer-leaders at Commodity Classic to find innovative ways to connect in 2021.”

Commodity Classic is now redirecting its efforts to developing alternative methods of connecting farmers and agricultural stakeholders.  “We realize the total Commodity Classic experience cannot be completely replicated online. Yet a key benefit of Commodity Classic is the educational sessions and presentations from agricultural thought leaders, which are even more important in today’s challenging environment,” said Bush. “We are already exploring ways in which we can deliver high-quality content in unique ways that allow farmers to get the information they seek from the experts they trust.”   

The transition to an alternative experience is already underway.  More information on the transition will be available in the coming weeks.  To keep up to date, sign up for email updates at  More information on the 2021 Commodity Classic will also be available on the website.

The 2022 Commodity Classic will be held in New Orleans on March 10-12, 2022.  “Like everyone else in agriculture, we are really looking forward to reconnecting with everyone face-to-face,” Doyle added.  “We urge everyone to get these dates on their calendar and plan to join us in-person in New Orleans in 2022.”

Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused educational and agricultural experience.  Commodity Classic is presented annually by the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers and Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

American Butter Institute Names AMPI’s Reece President

Marshall Reece, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Associated Milk Producers Inc. of New Ulm, MN, has been named the new president of the American Butter Institute, gaining the position during the organization’s annual meeting, held this year virtually.
Other new officers include Catherine Fox, Vice President, Brand & Product Marketing/Dairy Foods for Land O’ Lakes, Inc., of Arden Hills, MN, who became First Vice President; and Mark Armon, Portfolio Leader, Dairy Fat for Darigold based in Seattle. Officers serve for two years, with terms expiring in 2022.

“We are excited to have Marshall lead the organization for the next two years,” said Tom Balmer, executive director of the Arlington, VA-based institute. “His deep knowledge of the butter business and experience on our leadership team have positioned him well to guide ABI in achieving both near term objectives and longer-term aspirations. Marshall’s enthusiasm for the industry is unmatched, and the entire ABI membership stands to benefit.”

In addition, outgoing President Craig Alexander, Vice President, Dairy Ingredients & Regulatory Affairs, O-AT-KA Milk Products of Batavia, NY, was recognized for his service.

The American Butter Institute:
    Promotes and protects the interests and welfare of the butter industry;
    Acts as a clearinghouse for the exchange of ideas beneficial to the butter industry and the consuming public;
    Keeps its members informed of legislative and regulatory proposals; and
    Acts as the voice for all actions affecting the industry and other relevant research and other industry developments and public relation on other interactions with government agencies.  

Reece was elected by the 28-member Board of Directors for the organization as part of the conference, which took place Oct. 2. Attendees discussed market trends in the COVID-19 era and received policy updates from ABI staff.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Thursday October 29 Ag News

This Week's Drought Summary

A blast of frigid Arctic air invaded the North Central States, producing weekly temperatures averaging 15 to 25 degrees F below normal in Montana, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska. The chill was accompanied by a slow-moving storm system that produced light snow across most of the Rockies, Plains, and upper Midwest. Although outdoor conditions were harsh, the storm and cold were welcome as it brought a halt to the abnormal warmth and dryness that had expanded and deepened the drought in the region. In the southern Plains, mixed precipitation (snow, sleet, freezing rain, and rain) glazed portions of New Mexico, western Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, while beneficial moderate to heavy rains fell from southwestern Oklahoma northeastward into the eastern Great Lakes region. Heavy rains also were measured in the western Great Lakes region and south Florida. Scattered, light precipitation was measured across most of the Pacific Northwest, Southeast, Midwest, and western portions of the Northeast. Much of the Southwest and Intermountain West was dry, with wild fires still burning across California. In addition, little or no precipitation fell on the southern Plains, parts of the Southeast, and eastern sections of the Northeast. Above normal temperatures enveloped the Southwest, southern Plains, and eastern third of the Nation. At the end of the period, all eyes were on Hurricane Zeta in the Gulf of Mexico as it tracked toward yet another Louisiana landfall.


In addition to the heavy rains in southern Missouri (see South summary), the Rockies storm and a stalled cold front produced moderate to heavy rains (1-3 inches, locally to 5) in the middle Mississippi and Ohio Valleys, and in the western Great Lakes region (eastern Iowa into Wisconsin and Michigan). Light precipitation, some of it in the form of snow in northern locales, fell across the remainder of the Midwest. With the widespread precipitation and low temperatures, there was no deterioration in the region; instead, status-quo or improvements. The 1-category improvements included: southern Missouri; southern, central, and northeastern Illinois; southern and central Indiana; western Ohio; southern and central lower Michigan; east-central Wisconsin; southeastern Minnesota; and the eastern half of Iowa. The lower temperatures, lack of evapotranspiration, and widespread precipitation were ideal for soil moisture recharge where the soils were not frozen. However, there were still some large 6-month deficits (e.g. 8-12 inches in western Iowa) that required plentiful precipitation, and this week’s totals were not impressive (0.25-1 inch), thus D2 and D3 persisted there.

High Plains

A winter storm and frigid air dropped southeastward out of Canada and into the northern and central Rockies early in the period, bringing welcome snows to the mountains, and even at lower elevations of the northern and central Plains. Decent early mountain snows blanketed western and southern Montana, northwestern Wyoming, and parts of southeastern Wyoming, central Colorado, and northern New Mexico. Light to moderate precipitation (mostly snow) also fell on South Dakota and into Minnesota, and parts of western Nebraska. For the most part, the precipitation finally halted the downward deterioration (except for North Dakota) in the region, and actually provided some improvements to western and southern Montana, northwestern and northeastern Wyoming, western South Dakota, southeastern Kansas, and some small D3 to D2 areas in central Colorado where the snows were unusually heavy. In North Dakota, however, precipitation was very light (0-0.25 inches). With indices at 2-3 months and longer (6-months) at D2 or drier, plus field reports of shallow water holes dry, low levels in rivers and larger bodies of water, no regrowth of forages, and poor pastures, an expansion of D1 in the northeast and D2 in central sections was justified.

Looking Ahead

During the next 5 days (October 29-November 2), WPC’s QPF precipitation focuses on Hurricane Zeta and the southern Rockies upper-air low as they both track northeastward. Heavy rains and strong winds are expected at Zeta’s landfall in eastern Louisiana, then as it weakens, moisture from Zeta will become entrained into the upper-air low, with a band of heavy precipitation (1-4 inches) expected from the south-central Plains northeastward into the mid-Atlantic, and in the southern and central Appalachians. Little or no precipitation is forecast elsewhere across the contiguous U.S., except for some lighter amounts in western Washington, the western Great Lakes region, and Florida. Temperatures will average near to below-normal in the eastern half of the Nation, but above-normal in the West, especially in the Great Basin.

The Climate Prediction Center’s 6-10 day outlook (November 3-7) favors below-normal precipitation across the eastern half of the U.S. and along the southern coast of Alaska, with odds for above-normal precipitation in the Northwest and northern Alaska. Temperatures are anticipated to be above-normal in the West, Plains, upper Midwest, and western Alaska, near-normal in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic, and subnormal in New England and southern and eastern Alaska.

USDA Designates Four South Dakota Counties as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue designated four South Dakota counties as primary natural disaster areas. Producers in Clay, Lincoln, Minnehaha and Turner 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:
    South Dakota: Hutchinson, Lake, McCook, Moody, Union and Yankton
    Iowa: Lyon and Sioux
    Minnesota: Pipestone and Rock
    Nebraska: Cedar and Dixon

The deadline to apply for these emergency loans is June 16, 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

FDA Must Enforce Fake-Dairy Rules, NMPF Tells Agency Ombudsman in New Advocacy Phase

With FDA giving little indication of promised action on proper labeling of imitation dairy products, the National Milk Producers Federation today asked the agency’s ombudsman to ensure that rules are properly enforced.

“Allowing unlawfully labeled ‘plant-based’ imitation dairy foods to proliferate poses an immediate and growing risk to public health; it is a clear dereliction of the FDA’s duty to enforce federal law and agency regulations,” wrote NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern in the letter, sent to Dr. Laurie Lenkel, ombudsman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “The FDA’s Office of the Ombudsman must intervene to break the bureaucratic logjam that is adversely affecting consumers. Doing so would fit squarely within the Office’s own mission to ensure even-handed application of FDA policy and procedures.”

The FDA ombudsman, based in the agency commissioner’s office, “serves as a neutral and independent resource for members of FDA-regulated industries when they experience problems with the regulatory process,” according to the agency. NMPF is urging the ombudsman’s office to take appropriate action to remedy the FDA’s lax approach to enforcing its own rules on the use of dairy terms on products containing no dairy ingredients, which have proven impacts on public health – a new phase of advocacy brought about by the agency’s regrettable inaction. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other organizations have offered evidence of nutritional deficiencies caused by confusion over the contents of plant-based versus dairy beverages.

NMPF last year released its own road map offering solutions to how public health, product integrity and free speech could be protected through updated regulations. NMPF also supports the DAIRY PRIDE Act, a potential legislative prod for FDA action, and has asked FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn to follow up on the pledge he made nearly one year ago to make fake-dairy labeling a high-priority issue at FDA.

U.S., Vietnam Sign $500 Million Deal to Form Pork Consortium

The Vietnam Trade Alliance, a grouping of buyers and producers, signed a pact on Wednesday to buy up to $500 million worth of American pork over three years, the U.S. embassy in Hanoi said on Wednesday.

According to Reuters, a memorandum of understanding called a "U.S.-Vietnam Pork Consortium" was signed with Smithfield Foods and other U.S. pork producers on the sideline of a virtual Indo-Pacific Business Forum on Wednesday.

Pork accounts for three-quarters of total meat consumption in Vietnam, a country of 96 million people where most of its farm-raised pigs are consumed domestically.

The Southeast Asian country is rebuilding its hog herd after an outbreak of African swine fever first detected in February last year forced it to cull millions of pigs, or 20% of the herd. In May it said it would buy 20,000 breeding pigs from Thailand.

Vietnam Trade Alliance will buy U.S. chilled and frozen pork and pork products for further processing and distribution into the Vietnam market, the statement said.

Vietnam's pork imports from the United States rose to $35 million in the first eight months of this year from $4 million in 2015, Reuters reported.

"This export activity will also help increase overall U.S. agricultural exports to Vietnam, help address the U.S.-Vietnam trade imbalance, and directly support U.S. farmers and ranchers and processing companies.," the statement said.

Vietnam has been seeking to import more U.S. goods, including liquefied natural gas, coal and crude oil, to help narrow the trade gap following last year's threats by President Donald Trump to impose tariffs on its products.

EPA Finalizes Improvements to Pesticide Application Exclusion Zone Requirements

Today, at Overman Farms in Goldsboro, N.C., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler will announce that the agency has finalized important improvements to requirements for the pesticide application exclusion zone (AEZ)—the area surrounding pesticide application equipment that exists only during outdoor production pesticide applications. EPA’s targeted changes improve the enforceability and workability of the AEZ requirements, decrease regulatory burdens for farmers, and maintain critical worker protections. Today’s revisions are consistent with the 2018 Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA). The AEZ requirements are part of EPA’s agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) regulations.

“Since day one, the Trump Administration has been committed to protecting the health of all our citizens," said EPA Administrator Wheeler. "The changes to the AEZ requirements make it easier to ensure people near our nation’s farms are protected, while simultaneously enhancing the workability of these provisions for farm owners and protecting the environment."

This final action balances the input EPA received from a wide range of stakeholders during the proposed action’s 90-day comment period. EPA has clarified and simplified the AEZ requirements based in part on input from state pesticide regulatory agencies and agricultural stakeholders after the adoption of the 2015 WPS rule. Consistent with PRIA, EPA is only implementing changes related to the AEZ requirements in the WPS. These targeted changes include:
-    AEZ requirements only apply within the boundaries of the agricultural establishment, removing off-farm responsibilities that were difficult for state regulators to enforce.
-    Immediate family members of farm owners are now exempted from all aspects of the AEZ requirements. Farm owners and their immediate family are now able to shelter in place inside closed buildings, giving farm owners and immediate family members flexibility to decide whether to stay on-site during pesticide applications, rather than compelling them to leave even when they feel safe remaining.
-    New clarifying language has been added so that pesticide applications that are suspended due to individuals entering an AEZ may be resumed after those individuals have left the AEZ.
-    Simplified criteria to determine whether pesticide applications are subject to the 25- or 100-foot AEZ.

No changes were made to the “Do Not Contact” provision that prohibits a handler/applicator and the handler’s employer from applying a pesticide in such a way that it contacts workers or other persons directly or through drift.

To read the rule in full, please visit:


The original WPS regulation was enacted in 1992 under EPA’s Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) authorities to protect farm workers from pesticide exposures in production agriculture. The WPS requires owners and employers on agricultural establishments and commercial pesticide-handling establishments to protect employees on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses from occupational exposure to agricultural pesticides.

In 2015, EPA finalized various significant revisions to the 1992 WPS. Among the 2015 revisions was a new provision requiring agricultural employers to keep workers and all other individuals out of an area called the “application exclusion zone” (AEZ) during outdoor pesticide applications. The AEZ is the area surrounding pesticide application equipment that exists only during outdoor production pesticide applications. The AEZ will be 25 feet in all directions for ground pesticide applications when sprayed from a height greater than 12 inches, and 100 feet in all directions for outdoor aerial, air blast, air-propelled, fumigant, smoke, mist and fog pesticide applications.

The initial intent of the AEZ was to supplement existing WPS provisions for farm workers to better protect them and other on-farm persons that could be contacted by pesticides. However, state regulators expressed concerns with enforcing the complex AEZ requirements and farm owners expressed concerns with applying and complying with pesticide regulations.

Livestock Producers Hail Finalized USFWS Rule Delisting Gray Wolf

Today, leaders from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC) joined Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith in Minnesota to mark the historic announcement that gray wolves in the contiguous 48 United States have fully recovered and will be returned to state management after having received various levels of protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for nearly 40 years.

Administration officials and stakeholder groups celebrated the announcement as an ESA success story, highlighting the robust populations of wolves that have continued to grow over time and the strong partnerships that made recovery possible.
NCBA Vice President Don Schiefelbein was able to celebrate the announcement in his home state of Minnesota, which has been the stage for a number of the legal and procedural challenges that have plagued previous delisting efforts.  

"The recovery and delisting of the gray wolf is an outstanding victory under the Endangered Species Act and should be celebrated accordingly. Today’s announcement is the culmination of decades of work done by cattle producers and landowners nationwide to protect habitat ensuring wolf recovery efforts were successful, even when impacts to their livelihoods were significant," said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Vice President and Minnesota rancher Don Schiefelbein. "The road to recovery and delisting has been fraught with purely political lawsuits that promoted emotion over fact, and the facts are clear: the gray wolf population is recovered and states are well-equipped to manage this population. Thank you to President Trump, Secretary Bernhardt, Director Skipwith and their team for allowing the science to stand for itself."

PLC President Niels Hansen also attended the event, lending support to ranching communities who have continued to be affected by significant depredation events as a result of dense wolf populations. Hansen is a rancher in Wyoming, a state whose wolf population was delisted in 2017 after a years-long recovery effort.

"Today’s announcement is welcome news for public lands ranchers who have spent decades defending their livestock from wolves while also defending previous delisting rules in court," said Public Lands Council (PLC) President Niels Hansen. "By returning gray wolves to state management, we are giving long-overdue recognition to a conservation victory under the Endangered Species Act and returning to a state wildlife management model that has demonstrated success for thousands of other species. I look forward to the next chapter in management of this species that allows ranchers, biologists, and government officials to continue to work together for the benefit of our communities, our economies, and our wildlife because the best decisions always come from those closest to the subject.”

Gray Wolf Removed from Endangered Species List

The Department of the Interior announced it has removed the gray wolf from the endangered species list, signaling a successful recovery under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The gray wolf spent more than four decades on the endangered species list. The population is now thriving in the lower 48 states.

State and tribal wildlife management agencies will now be responsible for the management and protection of the gray wolf.

“This is an Endangered Species Act success story,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “The gray wolf joins more than 50 other animals, including the bald eagle, as an example of how careful management and partnerships between federal and state agencies can result in the successful recovery of a once-threatened species. The gray wolf population is now thriving so it is appropriate to turn management over to the states, which can oversee the species in a way that is most appropriate for each region.”

Over 1,600 species remain on the federal threatened and endangered list. Delisting the gray wolf allows the Department of the Interior to focus resources on other species in need of recovery.

Zero-interest, extended-terms offer gives farmers confidence to make seed purchases now, flexibility to pay in December 2021

As farmers seek greater flexibility to best manage financial resources during a challenging farm economy, the Golden AdvantageSM program provides an extended-terms offer with 0% interest on purchases of Golden Harvest® brand seed products. Under the Golden Advantage program, payment for Golden Harvest seed and seed treatment purchases for the 2021 planting season is not due until Dec. 3, 2021.

Golden Advantage is designed to help farmers make the best use of all their open lines of credit and prioritize their farm input purchases. The extended-terms offer is in addition to any applicable discounts provided by Golden Harvest and applies to eligible purchases submitted by May 15, 2021, for use next season.

"Across the country, farmers are dealing with significant financial pressures in the wake of the continuing global pandemic, Midwest derecho and local agronomic challenges," said Dave Young, Golden Harvest head of marketing. "The Golden Advantage program is another important tool we can provide farmers to offer more flexibility in how they manage their whole-farm profitability over the next 15-18 months."

To participate in the program, farmers should first contact their local Golden Harvest Seed Advisor, and then review the detailed Golden Advantage program terms and conditions and apply online at, where farmers can also monitor spending limits and pay for extended-term purchases. Enogen® products sold through an authorized Golden Harvest Seed Advisor are also eligible.

"During these difficult times, we recognize helping farmers maximize yield potential is only one aspect of the service Golden Harvest provides," Young said. "With programs like Golden Advantage, we're focused on doing whatever it takes to put farmers first and help them succeed."

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Wednesday October 28 Ag News

Ricketts, Wellman Comment on EPA’s Re-Registration of Dicamba Products

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director (NDA) Steve Wellman issued statements following a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to re-register dicamba products.

“I welcome the recent decision by the EPA to approve registration for the ‘over-the-top’ dicamba products,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “The agency’s transparent process provides certainty to Nebraska farmers and ranchers in a year where things have been anything but normal.  Our producers now have the necessary information to make confident decisions when it comes to spring planting in 2021 and for the next few years to come.”

“The EPA’s recent dicamba decision is welcome news for Nebraska farmers and ranchers and the state of Nebraska – providing certainty for the industry when it’s needed most,” said Director Wellman.  “This outcome, based on science and stakeholder input, will allow Nebraskans the appropriate time needed to make informed decisions prior to the 2021 planting season.  The Nebraska Department of Agriculture will continue to work in partnership with the EPA to properly enforce this decision and respond to requests to adopt the new label and register products in Nebraska.”


– Brad Schick, NE Extension Educator  
Grid sampling and application of dry fertilizer is common in the fall, but is it safe to graze corn residue fields that have had the fertilizer applied?
The answer comes down to how much risk in animal wellbeing we are willing to take. The risk potential is different for different fertilizer components. Potassium, zinc, nitrogen, and sulfur could all be toxic, but that risk is all about consumption rate and the amount animals can physically consume. To reduce risk, wait to graze until after precipitation whether that be rain or snow melt. Waiting for rain is more important if the application stuck to damp or wet residue.
Calculations can tell if what was applied would pose a risk.
Nitrogen fertilizers can cause toxicity in different ways and differing amounts so any spill available for consumption is a higher risk. There are other fertilizer components in a grid sampled applications that may or may not be a problem due to the how much is in the mix. Here are some other components and elemental levels that would be toxic. Potassium would be toxic at 30,000 mg/kg of intake or 3% of the diet which is very unlikely. A very high potassium intake could cause a magnesium deficiency, so making a high magnesium mineral available might be considered. High sulfur intake could cause polioencephalomalacia or PEM, but that is also unlikely. A lot of downed corn could also increase the risk of PEM. Cattle can tolerate 0.5% sulfur in the diet, but corn residue only contains close to 0.1%. Zinc consumption is fine up to 1000 mg/kg without problems and phosphorus can be tolerated up to 1% of the diet.
Bottom line: The safest approach for grazing corn stalks is too wait until a rain or graze before fertilizer application, but that may not be realistic. Assessing the fertilizer amount will give a good idea of risk level. If the fertilizer can easily be seen on the residue, be more cautious when grazing.

Our Nonpartisan and Independent Legislature is Being Drowned in Partisan Spending

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) is sounding the alarm over the tidal wave of unprecedented partisan spending on nonpartisan races on everything from the Legislature to public power races.

NeFU President John Hansen said “In our judgment, the size and scope of partisan funding of nonpartisan races in the Legislature and for public power boards undermines the nonpartisanship and independence of both our unique Nebraska Legislature and our public power system. Nebraska has been extremely well served by keeping the blinding bitterness, dysfunction and gridlock of Washington style partisanship out of nonpartisan races for the Legislature and public power. We think most Nebraskans would be alarmed if they knew how much partisan money was being dumped into these races.”

According to the NADC’s (Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission) latest report, Governor Pete Ricketts and his parents are using their personal checkbooks to support Republicans in nonpartisan races up and down the ballot at an unprecedented rate.

During the last two year election cycle, Governor Ricketts has directly contributed $124,500 to Republican incumbents and challengers for the Legislature, $7,500 to Republican NPPD candidates, and $5,000 for the Republican candidate for Lancaster County Commissioner for a personal total of $137,000.

Governor Ricketts has given the Nebraska Republican Party $240,000 during the last two year election cycle, and each of his parents has given an additional $100,000, for a total of $440,000 from the Ricketts family. The Ricketts family has given a total of $577,000 to support Republican candidates and organizations during the last two year campaign cycle.

In turn, the Nebraska Republican Party who operates under the direction of the Governor has spent $548,700.60 supporting their candidates or opposing their opponents for the Nebraska Legislature. By comparison, the Nebraska Democratic Party has spent only $81,685.65 on all Legislative races. The Nebraska Republicans spent a total of a $139,893.62 in Legislative District 1 alone. They spent $112,188.71 for Julie Slama and $27,704.91 against her opponent Janet Palmtag, also a Republican.

In a new development, the state Republican Party has spent $51,741 on two nonpartisan public power races supporting Republican candidates. They spent $41,256 opposing Mary Harding for NPPD Board of Directors, and $7,522 supporting her opponent Todd Calfee. In addition, Governor Ricketts recently personally donated $5,000 to Calfee. The NPPD position is nonpartisan.

For more NACD information:  Click “View Campaign Filings”.

USDA Designate 12 Nebraska Counties as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue designated 12 Nebraska counties as primary natural disaster areas. Producers in Banner, Box Butte, Cheyenne, Deuel, Garden, Madison, Morrill, Pierce, Platte, Scotts Bluff , Sheridan and Wayne 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: Antelope, Arthur, Boone, Butler, Cedar, Cherry, Colfax, Cuming, Dawes, Dixon, Grant, Keith, Kimball, Knox, Merrick, Nance, Perkins, Polk, Sheridan, Sioux, Stanton and Thurston
    Colorado: Logan and Sedgwick
    South Dakota: Bennett and Oglala Lakota
    Wyoming: Goshen and Laramie

The deadline to apply for these emergency loans is June 14, 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

USDA Designate Four Iowa Counties as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue designated four Iowa counties as primary natural disaster areas. Producers in Cherokee, O'Brien, Plymouth and Sioux 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:
    Iowa: Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson, Ida, Lyon, Osceola, Sac and Woodbury
    South Dakota: Lincoln and Union

The deadline to apply for these emergency loans is June 14, 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

USDA announces USB appointments & reappointments

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue appointed eight new U.S. soybean farmers to the United Soybean Board (USB) and reappointed 11 directors for an additional term. These farmer-leaders will be officially sworn in for service at the annual USB meeting in December and will serve a three-year term.

“Every board member plays an integral role by lending their expertise and industry insights to determine checkoff investments that benefit all U.S. soybean farmers,” said USB Chair Jim Carroll III from Arkansas. “The soy checkoff is led by a dedicated and diverse group of farmers, and I look forward to working with each of the newly appointed leaders to move our industry forward and further innovation.”

The soy checkoff provides significant value to farmers by leveraging checkoff funds in investments and programs to build preference for U.S. soy across the country and around the world. Authorized by the Soybean Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act, the United Soybean Board is composed of 78 members representing 29 states, in addition to the Eastern and Western regions. The number of seats on the board is determined based on bushels produced in that region. Members must be soybean farmers nominated by a Qualified State Soybean Board.

“Board members have farms of almost every size and type, from those just starting out with a handful of acres to those with larger operations. Many of our farmer-leaders have a deep knowledge of demand opportunities and production research who are on the cutting edge with their minds on the future,” said USB Vice Chair Dan Farney from Illinois. “But every single one of them shares the goal to advance markets and profitability for U.S. soybean farmers.”

The newly appointed farmer-leaders include:
• Alabama — Sam Butler, New Hope
• Arkansas — AJ Hood, Star City
• Iowa — Timothy Bardole, Rippey

• Kentucky — Ryan Dale Bivens, Hodgenville
• Michigan — Laurie Isley, Palmyra
• Nebraska — Greg Greving, Chapman

• South Carolina, Fitzhugh L. Bethea III, Dillon
• South Dakota — Todd J. Hanten, Goodwin

The reappointed farmer-leaders include:
• Illinois — Gary Berg, Saint Elmo
• Indiana — Tom Griffiths, Kendallville
• Iowa — Thomas E. Oswald, Cleghorn

• Kansas — Dennis Gruenbacher, Andale
• Maryland — Belinda Burrier, Union Bridge
• Minnesota — Lawrence E. Sukalski, Fairmont
• Mississippi — Philip Good, Macon
• Missouri — Lewis Rone, Portageville
• Ohio — David A. Dotterer, Rittman
• Tennessee — David E. Nichols, Ridgely
• Texas — Andrew W. Scott, Jr., Weslaco

The newly appointed alternate is:
• Texas — Harold Roberts, Honey Grove

Visit to learn more about the work of the soy checkoff.

National FFA Organization Names Nebraska Resident 2020 Star in Agribusiness

Hay bales are a common sight across the Great Plains, but if you see some near the Kansas-Nebraska border, there’s a chance Blake Kirchhoff might have baled them.

“I basically do ‘start to finish’ haying operations,” Kirchhoff said. “Swathing, raking and then round baling or square baling, depending on what the customer wants.”

Kirchhoff owns and operates a haying business called Blake Kirchhoff Custom Baling for his supervised agricultural experience (SAE) with Superior FFA in Nebraska. Blake’s business does more than spinning hay into bales, though — he helps local farmers get in contact with buyers for their hay bales too.

“I also do some contracted hay sales, like a broker [or] a middleman,” Kirchhoff said. “Helping buyers and sellers find each other and negotiate prices.”

Kirchhoff’s business has seen strong growth since he started many years ago on his family farm. However, he didn’t initially plan on haying for his SAE.

“Originally, I had some sheep, and I thought I wanted to do that for an SAE, and I needed hay to feed them,” Kirchhoff said. “I had to start looking for small square bales, and I just couldn’t find anyone in my area … that had any for sale.”

With no other options, Kirchhoff purchased his baler at the age of 14, intending to buy hay from local providers and use that to feed his sheep. However, he realized that he was the only person in his area with a square baler, so he decided to fill a niche and focus on haying instead. He later used his haying profits to pay for a second baler, a swather, a tractor and more.

“I definitely like running equipment,” Kirchhoff said. “Especially when you own it, and you did all the books to figure out if you can afford it. [You’re] seeing things come full circle.”

The haying business is a collaborative effort, however. When he is away from the Kirchhoff farmland to attend college, his family helps run the business in his absence. Kirchhoff also said his FFA advisor, Seth Going, was a huge help for providing him with financial advice and networking opportunities.

“It got me out of my comfort zone,” Kirchhoff said.

After he graduates from Kansas State University with an agronomy degree, Kirchhoff said he wants to run his haying business full time. He added that 2020 has been a surprisingly good year for his business despite the COVID-19 pandemic because more people are starting gardens under quarantine.

Kirchhoff’s advice for FFA members wanting to start their SAEs is to find work they enjoy doing.

“You’ve got to find something that you like to do,” Kirchhoff said. “Not every day is good for me … but if you like what you’re doing, it makes it a lot easier to get over those hurdles.”

About the American Star Awards

Each year at the National FFA Convention & Expo, four FFA members are honored with American Star Awards for outstanding accomplishments in FFA and agricultural education.

The American Star Awards, including American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement and American Star in Agriscience, are presented to FFA members who demonstrate outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through completion of an SAE. A required activity in FFA, an SAE allows students to learn by doing, by either owning or operating an agricultural business, working or serving an internship at an agriculture-based business, or conducting an agriculture-based scientific experiment and reporting results.

Other requirements to achieve the award include demonstrating top management skills; completing key agricultural education, scholastic and leadership requirements; and earning an American FFA Degree, the organization’s highest level of student accomplishment.

Sixteen American Star Award finalists from throughout the U.S. were nominated by a panel of judges who then interviewed the finalists this fall. Four were named winners during the 93rd National FFA Convention & Expo this year, which was held virtually. Winners received cash awards. Case IH, Elanco Animal Health and Syngenta sponsor the awards.

National FFA Announces 2020 National Agricultural Proficiency Winners

Winners of the 2020 Agricultural Proficiency Winners were named during the 93rd National FFA Convention & Expo on Wednesday, Oct. 28, which is being held virtually this year.

Agricultural Proficiency Awards honor FFA members who, through supervised agricultural experiences (SAEs), have developed specialized skills that they can apply toward their future careers. Students complete in areas ranging from agricultural communications to wildlife management. Proficiency awards are also recognized at local and state levels and provide recognition to members exploring and becoming established in agricultural career pathways.

Among the winners announced today were:

Diversified Crop Production – Placement
Nathan Randy Kroeger
Nathan Randy Kroeger of the Carroll Area FFA Chapter in Iowa works for his family’s crop farm and grain hauling business. He is tasked with completing all corn and soybean crop production jobs, from planting and harvesting to tillage and application of fertilizer, fungicide, insecticide, and pesticide. The operation consists of 1,800 acres of soybeans and 6,000 acres of corn. They utilize a continuous flow grain dryer system and 36 grain bins to store more than one million bushels. Kroeger is supported by his parents, Michelle and Kevin, and his FFA advisor, Brady Eischeid. AgReliant Genetics and CHS Foundation sponsor this proficiency.

Equine Science – Entrepreneurship
Ashlyn Mohling
Ashlyn Mohling of the Adams Central FFA Chapter in Nebraska has been caring for and riding horses since a young age. She cares for five horses for her equine project, ensuring both their health and safety so they can perform. Throughout the year, she shows her horses at local, state and breed show levels in all different disciplines from Western to English classes.  Mohling also teaches special needs children how to brush a horse, interact with a horse, and employs therapeutic riding for children age eight to eighteen. She is supported by her parents, Heather and Brett, and her FFA advisor, Brandon Jacobitz. Zoetis and Red Brand sponsor this proficiency.

The Importance of Red Meat Exports to Corn Farmers

Dean Meyer, director of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and secretary-treasurer of the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

In many ways, this year’s harvest has been like any other – myself and my family working long days racing against the clock, against the weather, and against the many obstacles farmers typically face when getting the crops in each fall.

Of course, 2020 is a bit different. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every person and every industry, including agriculture.

The good news for corn farmers is that our biggest customer, America’s livestock industry, continues to succeed in the global market – despite COVID. Exporting red meat products around the world helps increase demand for beef, pork and lamb, which in turn creates demand for corn and other livestock feed.

Corn producers, soybean producers, hog producers and cattle producers – together we make up one heck of a team.

Supporting this team are organizations like the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), which works around the world to create demand for red meat. COVID-19 has slowed down a lot of things, but it has not slowed down USMEF’s efforts. Adapting its programs to reach importers and consumers in new ways – virtual training, online seminars, and social media promotions are some examples – USMEF sees recent rebounds in red meat exports as a sign its innovative work is paying off.

For corn producers, the numbers are impressive. Red meat exports added 12 percent of bushel value to the U.S. corn farmer in 2019, according to a study on the market value of red meat exports that was commissioned by USMEF and updated this summer.

Some other findings of the study:
    At an average of $3.75 per bushel of corn, $0.46 is from red meat exports. The study indicated that without red meat exports, corn growers would have lost $6.4 billion in corn revenue in 2019.
    In 2019, U.S. beef and pork exports used 480 million bushels of corn. Corn revenue generated by pork exports totaled $1.8 billion.
    The projected market value of red meat exports to U.S. corn from 2020-2029 is $23.1 billion.

Corn producers provide critical support for USMEF’s efforts to expand global demand for U.S. red meat and USMEF remains optimistic about a strong finish for U.S. red meat exports in 2020, despite many challenges related to COVID-19.

USMEF’s optimism comes, in part, from recent trade agreements, such as the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement, the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

But the optimism also comes from USMEF’s confidence in its ability to react to market conditions and meet the needs of importers and consumers. As mentioned previously, USMEF has adapted its programs during the pandemic, utilizing online and social media channels to reach customers around the world and share information about the quality and value of U.S. beef, pork and lamb.

These programs are specifically designed to educate consumers about U.S. red meat and introduce them to new cuts, new recipes and new uses.

Next time, I’ll share some examples of these USMEF programs and explain how the efforts benefit the U.S. agriculture “team” – beef producers, hog producers, soybean producers and, of course, corn producers.

Until then, I hope your own race against the clock, the weather, and all those obstacles we farmers face each fall goes well.

Majority of Fertilizer Prices Move Lower, Except for MAP, DAP

A majority of retail fertilizer prices are lower the third week of October 2020 compared to a month earlier, with only the two phosphate prices bucking the trend, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

This breaks a six-week streak where five of the eight major fertilizers tracked by DTN have been lower. This week, the price of six fertilizers declined.

While there were six fertilizers lower in price compared to last month, none were down a significant amount, which DTN designates as 5% or more. Potash had an average price $332 per ton, down $6; urea $359/ton, down $3; 10-34-0 $456/ton, down $1; anhydrous $424/ton, down $1; UAN28 $209/ton, down $6; and UAN32 $249/ton, down $4.

Of the two remaining fertilizers that had higher prices, MAP was up a significant amount. Its average retail price increased $23/ton, or 5%, from last month to $476/ton.

The price of DAP was also higher, up $12/ton, at $446/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.26/lb.N, UAN28 $0.37/lb.N and UAN32 $0.39/lb.N.

Like last week, all but one of the fertilizers are lower in price from a year earlier. Only one fertilizer, MAP, is higher at 1% higher than last year.

The remaining seven fertilizers are lower compared to last year. 10-34-0 is 3% lower, DAP is 4% less expensive, urea is 11% lower, both potash and UAN32 are 14% less expensive, anhydrous is 16% lower and UAN28 is 17% lower than last year.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 10/23/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending October 23, ethanol production expanded 3.1%, or 29,000 barrels per day (b/d), to a seven-week high of 941,000 b/d—equivalent to 39.52 million gallons daily. Still, production remained 6.3% below the same week last year. The four-week average ethanol production rate increased 1.8% to 929,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.24 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks thinned by 0.6% to 19.6 million barrels, which was 7.1% below year-ago volumes and the smallest reserves since the end of 2016. Inventories decreased across all regions except the East Coast (PADD 1) and Rocky Mountains (PADD 4).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, rose 3.1% to 8.55 million b/d (130.99 bg annualized). Gasoline demand was 12.7% less than a year ago.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol increased 1.8% to 853,000 b/d, equivalent to 13.08 bg annualized. This was 8.9% below the year-earlier level as a result of the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Imports of ethanol arriving into the West Coast were 6,000 b/d, or 1.76 million gallons for the week. This marks the tenth time in fourteen weeks that imports were reported. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of August 2020.)

Growth Energy Touts Biofuels’ Advantage to Meet Ag Innovation Goals

Today, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as part of USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda, regarding readily available technologies that enable our domestic agriculture sector to increase production while reducing its environmental footprint. In her comments, Skor argued that biofuels like ethanol play a critical role in achieving the department’s goals and called for building on current investments to expand renewables fuels’ role in our nation’s transportation infrastructure.

“Supporting programs like the Renewable Fuel Standard and initiatives to expand access to higher biofuel blends like E15, E30, and E85 can build on biofuels’ environmental progress and expand the market for American agriculture,” said Skor. “USDA’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) is a prime example how the agency can support the productivity of our farmers, while decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and encouraging further adoption of sustainable farming practices across our agriculture sector.”

Skor also notes the biofuels industry’s continued advancements to capture carbon dioxide and the plant-based fuel’s ability to replace harmful toxics and improve air quality.

“We have a better option in ethanol, the single most affordable and abundant alternative to petroleum-based fuel additives that threaten air quality in communities across the globe. To expand on these benefits, USDA should continue to promote programs that boost biofuels access and use throughout the country.”

As the department works to streamline programs and seek opportunities to improve sustainable farming across the country, Skor encouraged “USDA to continue exploring the strong link between U.S. agriculture and our biofuels industry, and promote the increased use of biofuels so our nation’s farmers can continue to rely on these markets as we work to reduce the environmental impact of the agriculture sector.”

Joint Statement from Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association on Motion for Partial Summary Judgment in FOIA Lawsuit Regarding Small Refinery Exemption Transparency

Upon the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) failure to adequately respond to several Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the biofuels industry regarding the small refinery exemption (SRE) program and EPA’s radical escalation in granting SREs in recent years, Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association filed a motion this week for partial summary judgment in the federal District Court of the District of Columbia.

Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association asked the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to order EPA to make public at least the most basic information pertaining to these exemptions. The following is a joint statement from Emily Skor, CEO, Growth Energy and Geoff Cooper, President and CEO, Renewable Fuels Association:

“For the last several years, biofuels interests have pleaded with EPA to lift the veil of secrecy that it has held over the issuance of small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard. These clandestine agency actions have destabilized markets and allowed numerous refineries to avoid their RFS compliance obligations at the expense of renewable fuel producers and supporters, including America’s farmers.

“Fundamentally, this request is about fairness and transparency in government. If an agency decides to relieve a refinery from the obligations Congress imposed under the Clean Air Act or any federal law, it should be done in the public view.”

The organizations have asked the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to order the following:
    EPA should not withhold the name of the company submitting an application for an SRE nor the name and location of the refinery for which relief is requested
    EPA should immediately produce the information that was unlawfully withheld for Renewable Fuel Standard compliance years 2015, 2016, and 2017
    EPA should not withhold any of the five data elements identified in the proposed Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support (“REGS”) rule

Democrats Claim USDA Excluding Dairy Farmers from COVID Relief

A group of Democrat Senators are criticizing the Trump Administration for what they claim 'unfairly excludes' dairy farmers from receiving COVID-19 relief to cover losses related to meat production.

In a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the lawmakers say the USDA's new Coronavirus Food Assistance Program will disadvantage dairy and other livestock producers. They claim a policy change excludes the value of the meat produced from breeding animals when determining payment eligibility.

"This change will affect the livestock industry and will be particularly harmful to dairy farmers who often operate at extremely tight margins," the letter stated. "The decision is even more troubling considering that USDA clearly has sufficient resources to cover these losses. Additionally, it is less complicated for both USDA and farmers to cover all livestock and avoid confusion about what animals are covered or excluded."

The Democrats are asking Perdue to reverse the decision, saying that while milk is the primary income for dairy farms, they often generate revenue from the meat of the cows as they are retired from milking.

The letter was co-signed by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) Robert Casey (D-PA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Angus King (I-ME), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patty Murray (D-WA), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Gary Peters (D-MI).

NCBA President Marty Smith Issues Statement on Florida Meetings

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) was invited to participate in two Florida producer meetings this week to discuss industry issues. Let me be clear, NCBA will not participate in events with organizations litigating against NCBA or the Beef Checkoff. Nor will we engage in events that that lend a voice to anti-agriculture activists like Marty Irby, a former lobbyist for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), who now serves as executive director of Animal Wellness Action, a group founded by disgraced former HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle. Irby also serves as a member of the board of directors at Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM).

OCM is not a producer group, it is solely a front for animal rights activists who are attempting to dismantle agriculture from the inside. It is disappointing that there are still those among us willing to give them a platform to further that work. Right now, OCM, represented by attorneys from the HSUS, is engaged in legal action aimed at destroying the Beef Checkoff because it promotes beef and benefits cattle producers. NCBA will not engage or lend a voice to these activists despite the fact that there are others willing to sacrifice the reputation of themselves and the cattlemen and women they represent, to do so.  

Statement on Trade and the 2020 Election  

Today, Farmers for Free Trade Co-Executive Director, Angela Hofmann released the following statement on trade and the importance of the Presidential candidates defining their priorities in the final days of the campaign.

“This election is playing out in states where farm exports are central to the well-being of the economy. In the final days, both candidates should speak to voters in Iowa, Texas, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and elsewhere to explain why they will reverse the harmful ag trade course we have been on. They need to better define their plans on how we regain America’s ag leadership and our historic ag surplus with the rest of the world.

"With over 40 percent of farm income currently coming from government subsidies, many triggered by the trade war, the next President will face the monumental task of opening markets and restoring our farmer’s competitive place in the world. Farmers have made clear they want trade not aid. They are ready to end the trade war and resume outcompeting their global competition on an even playing field. Both candidates should put forth their vision for doing so in the campaign’s final days and talk about it at every stop."

Over the last three months, Farmers for Free Trade, along with our ag commodity association supporters, have held a series of “AgTalks” roundtables with ag leaders across the country to gather recommendations for improving ag trade in the next administration. Those recommendations are set to be released following the election and will help provide a blueprint for efforts in the next administration.

Lely North America Breaks Ground on New Iowa Facility

Last year, Lely announced plans for its new North American campus, furthering its commitment to Pella, the state of Iowa and the dairy producers across North America. The groundbreaking ceremony took place October 22 at the company's new location. Lely North America President Chad Huyser led the event, and the new campus expects to be open in the first quarter of 2022.

"This acquisition and expansion for our new campus will allow Lely to further support the North American dairy industry and our Lely Center distribution partners across the U.S. and Canada," stated Huyser. "This first phase of build-out will accommodate our needs today and into the future. With a much larger site plan established, we have the flexibility and designs in place to further expand as the level of adoption of automation expands and new technology continues to be introduced."

Lely North America's new campus spans nearly 60 acres at the intersection of IA-163 and 250th Ave. / Adams Ave. in Pella, Iowa. Huyser was joined by several special guests at the groundbreaking, including Iowa's Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg and Pella Mayor Don DeWaard. Also in attendance were Lely's Iowa-based team members as well as a video simulcast to Lely employees across North America.

The company plans to move all its current operations from existing facilities under one roof upon completion. The new facility includes approximately 100,000 square feet of manufacturing and professional space, as well as a state-of-the-art training facility for use by employees and Lely's distribution partners throughout North America.

The current production activities include manufacturing of the Lely Astronaut A5 robotic milking system and Lely Luna cow brushes, but the new facility adds the ability to manufacture additional products in the Lely portfolio.

Vytelle Establishes Exclusive Agreement with Synomics to Tie Genetic Signatures in Cattle to Performance and Efficiency

Vytelle announced today the exclusive licensing of the Synomics Insights Platform to increase the accuracy of predicting cattle performance using phenotype and genomics data. By bringing this new capability in-house, Vytelle is uniquely positioned to fast forward cattle genetic progress – bringing certainty to producers’ high-stake management decisions.

“Vytelle will now be able to offer cattle producers the ability to correlate elite phenotype performance to unique genetic trait combinations. Combining this capability with our GrowSafe Systems phenotype data capture platform, Vytelle will offer cattle producers new intelligence to correlate genome to phenome.  As a result, producers can more rapidly multiply their elite genetics using our modern in vitro fertilization system providing them a complete solution,” commented Kerryann Kocher, Chief Executive Officer for Vytelle.

The revolutionary Synomics Insights Platform can process thousands of diverse datasets and analyze large-scale genotypic, phenotypic and environmental data.

“We’re excited to work with the Vytelle team to help them unlock individual animal performance for cattle producers,” said Steve Gardner, Founder of Synomics. “We’ve already demonstrated that we can more accurately explain the correlations among genomic, phenotype and environmental data driving new insights for health, production and fertility traits for producers.”

Vytelle and Synomics are part of the Wheatsheaf Group, an international investor in food and agriculture focused on creating efficiencies in the production and distribution of food, developing innovative business models and technologies to deliver affordable, nutritious and safe food that sustains both human health and the health of the planet.

Tuesday October 27 Ag News

 Farm Programs During COVID19: Making Government Programs Work For You

The I-29 Moo University webinar series continues with a presentation by Minnesota Extension Ag Business Management Specialist Megan Roberts on Wednesday, November 4. The webinar will be live from 12 noon to 1 pm and there is no registration.

This presentation will dive into what we do and don't know about how this new crop of government programs as we approach the end of 2020, including PPP forgiveness application changes, tax considerations, and the upcoming December 11 CFAP 2 deadline. 

Covid-19 brought farms many challenges, as well as several new governmental programs to decipher--from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 1 & 2) and mandatory Families FIRST Act employee sick leave.

Megan Roberts is a University of Minnesota Extension educator in ag business management. She holds a bachelors and masters from the University of Minnesota and a doctorate from Texas A&M. Megan's roots in agriculture come from growing up on a dairy farm, and she currently resides on a hog and crop farm in southern MN with her husband and son.

No registration is required. Producers can log on to the presentation at:

For more information contact I-29 Moo University collaborators: Fred Hall, ISU Extension at 712.737.4230, Jim Salfer, U of M Extension at 320.203.6093, Tracey Erickson SDSU Extension at 608.882.5140, or  Kim Clark, NE Extension at 402.350.5003.

 Extension webinar for ag professionals to focus on communicating with farmers under stress

Nebraska Extension, in partnership with Michigan State University Extension, will present a free webinar, “Communicating with Farmers Under Stress,” on Nov. 10 from 10:30 a.m. to noon, CST.  This workshop is beneficial for individuals who work with farmers and ranchers on a regular basis, such as bank lenders, ag suppliers, healthcare professionals and anyone involved with the lives of farmers and ranchers.

Stress seems to be prevalent in the agriculture sector, with even more concerns arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many farmers and ranchers are facing financial problems and market uncertainties, along with challenges such as production risks, farm transfer issues and more.  When temporary stress turns into chronic stress, it can impact physical health and mental wellness.

Workshop Objectives include:  
    Build awareness around potentially stressful conditions affecting some farmers and ranchers.
    Learn stress triggers, identify signs of stress, and review helpful techniques for responding.
    Learn techniques for identifying, approaching, and working with farmers who may not cope with stress effectively.
    Learn where to find additional help.

In addition to being helpful for working with farmers and ranchers, the workshop educates participants about managing stress in their own lives and teaches how stressors can affect physical health and relationships with family or coworkers.

Register for the free online workshop at: .

For more information, contact Nebraska Extension Educators Glennis McClure, or Susan Harris,  

Women in Ag Leadership Conference Goes Virtual for 2020

The fourth annual Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Women in Ag Leadership Conference addresses topics that are timely and challenging. The conference features speakers ready to share leadership knowledge and skills participants can apply to succeed in farm or agribusiness careers. This year’s conference is Nov. 30, 1-3:30 p.m., and Dec. 1, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The conference is a virtual event sponsored by Farm Credit Services of America.

This year’s conference theme is Leadership in Unprecedented Times. A veteran of crisis communication, Eileen Wixted of Wixted & Co. will present a workshop the afternoon of Nov. 30. She will engage the audience in preparedness activities that can help minimize business disruptions during a crisis.

Miriam Erickson Brown, president and CEO, Anderson Erickson Dairy, is the keynote speaker on Dec. 1 at 9:30 a.m. She’ll be sharing her experiences of leading a food company through a global pandemic. As the director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Kayla Lyon will discuss the challenges of leadership following the derecho, which swept through Iowa in August. The storm devastated and closed parks across the state. The afternoon conference session will focus on cultivating diversity.

Philomena Morrissey Satre, director of Diversity + Inclusion, Land O’ Lakes Inc., will offer insights into supporting a diverse workplace. A panel of two former Women in Ag Leadership Advisory Committee members, Zoami Calles-Rios Sosa and Jittaun Floyd, will share insights on working in agriculture as minorities. The capstone speaker, ISU Extension and Outreach farm and agribusiness management specialist Melissa O’Rourke, will help put 2020 in perspective and poise the audience to move into 2021 with grace and optimism.

Once again, the ISU Extension and Outreach Women in Ag Program will honor Iowa’s Women Impacting Agriculture during the conference. This honor highlights and celebrates women’s unique contributions to a safe and plentiful food supply while enhancing Iowa’s agricultural systems.

“I’m proud of the conference advisory committee’s work to give attendees an opportunity to discuss many current events in 2020 and gain new leadership skills to help them head into 2021 with confidence and optimism,” said Madeline Schultz, program manager for women in ag.

The virtual conference will offer networking opportunities. When registering for the conference, participants can choose to post their name, email and bio or message to the password protected website.

“Registrants can check this site often to connect with others who are attending the virtual conference to say ‘Hello’ to people they’ve met before or new people who share their interest,” Schultz said. “Another way we’ve built networking into the virtual event is our breakout rooms before, during and after the conference sessions. We want people to have fun and meaningful conversations in small groups, just like they would around a face-to-face conference table.”

The mission of the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Women in Ag Program is to improve the quality of life in Iowa by providing research-based educational resources and programs that expand agricultural business, improve natural resource management and support the community of women in agriculture.

The Women in Ag Leadership Conference Online registration is open at Cost for the conference is $30. Attendance scholarships are available. For questions or additional information, contact Madeline Schultz at 515-294-0588 or

Iowa Federal Candidates Take United Stance Against Anti-Biofuels Legislation

Iowa federal candidates have taken a united public stance against legislation introduced in Congress that would destroy biofuel demand.

Last week the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) and Iowa Biodiesel Board (IBB) sent an open letter to candidates running for federal office in Iowa asking them to take a public stand against legislation that would ban biofuel-powered vehicles by 2035. All ten of the candidates declared opposition to such legislation.

“We thank Iowa’s candidates for taking such a strong, united stance against this attempt to remove biofuels from being part of our energy future,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “This bill that completely ignores the emission reductions possible today and in the future from biofuels. Rather than taking a technology-neutral approach that would allow the market to decide the best way to meet emission standards, this bill disregards all of the investment farmers and biofuels producers have made into increasing efficiency and ensuring biofuels continue to get greener and greener with each passing year.”

“One of the best ways to reduce carbon emissions today – and in future cars and trucks – is through low-carbon liquid fuels such as biodiesel,” said IBB Executive Director Grant Kimberley. “While we support an all-of-the-above strategy, including electric vehicle technology, we applaud the key federal leaders and potential leaders who are on the record saying they will not side with one specific technology at the expense of others that support the use of biofuels. Biofuels have earned the opportunity to compete in the low-carbon economy.”

Gas Car Ban Would Have Disproportionate Impact on U.S. Biofuels and Agriculture

Today, the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), a member of the Transportation Fairness Alliance, released a new study that analyzes the impacts of increased electric vehicle penetration on U.S. biofuels, agriculture and the economy. Proposals to ban internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035 and 2050 served as the economic models for the study, along with a base case provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook.

The study found that U.S. light-duty and freight vehicle consumption of ethanol and biodiesel could decline up to 90 percent to 1.1 billion gallons and up to 61 percent to 0.8 billion gallons, respectively.

Corn and soybean consumption could decrease by up to 2.0 billion bushels and up to 470 million bushels, respectively. Corn prices fall up to 50 percent to $1.74 per bushel, while soybean prices fall up to 44 percent to $4.92 per bushel.

Overall, U.S. net farm income would decrease by up to $27 billion due to a proposed ban.

This study makes clear that an internal combustion engine vehicle ban could devastate the agriculture community. Proposals that seek to rush this ban to 2035 have the most severe impacts, but any ban results in dramatic decreases in ethanol, biodiesel, corn and soybean prices, and demand for fertilizer and other agricultural products. These are burdens carried disproportionately by the agriculture community.

Using the study’s estimated acreage reduction of 5 to 7 million acres of corn as an example, the impact on fertilizer alone is significant. In that scenario, nitrogen demand impact is approximately 800,000 to 1 million tons of urea and UAN each, assuming that direct application of ammonia volume remains constant. This represents about 15 percent of the urea market and 7% of the UAN market in the U.S., which will have a significant impact on fertilizer prices.

Further, the study shows that the economic losses throughout the biofuels value chain range from $105 billion to $185 billion, and cumulative federal, state, and local tax revenues losses range from $39 billion to $69 billion through 2050.  

This study used POLYSYS and IMPLAN to derive the agricultural and economic impacts of this study.

EPA Announces 2020 Dicamba Registration Decision

At the Cromley Farm in Brooklet, Georgia, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced that EPA is approving new five-year registrations for two dicamba products and extending the registration of an additional dicamba product. All three registrations include new control measures to ensure these products can be used effectively while protecting the environment, including non-target plants, animals, and other crops not tolerant to dicamba.

“With today’s decision, farmers now have the certainty they need to make plans for their 2021 growing season,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “After reviewing substantial amounts of new information, conducting scientific assessments based on the best available science, and carefully considering input from stakeholders we have reached a resolution that is good for our farmers and our environment.”

Through today’s action, EPA approved new registrations for two “over-the-top” (OTT) dicamba products—XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology and Engenia Herbicide—and extended the registration for an additional OTT dicamba product, Tavium Plus VaporGrip Technology. These registrations are only for use on dicamba-tolerant (DT) cotton and soybeans and will expire in 2025, providing certainty to American agriculture for the upcoming growing season and beyond.

To manage off-site movement of dicamba, EPA’s 2020 registration features important control measures, including:
    Requiring an approved pH-buffering agent (also called a Volatility Reduction Agent or VRA) be tank mixed with OTT dicamba products prior to all applications to control volatility.
    Requiring a downwind buffer of 240 feet and 310 feet in areas where listed species are located.
    Prohibiting OTT application of dicamba on soybeans after June 30 and cotton after July 30.
    Simplifying the label and use directions so that growers can more easily determine when and how to properly apply dicamba.

The 2020 registration labels also provide new flexibilities for growers and states. For example, there are opportunities for growers to reduce the downwind spray buffer for soybeans through use of certain approved hooded sprayers as an alternative control method. EPA also recognizes and supports the important authority FIFRA section 24 gives the states for issuing locally appropriate regulations for pesticide use. If a state wishes to expand the federal OTT uses of dicamba to better meet special local needs, the agency will work with them to support their goals.  

This action was informed by input from state regulators, grower groups, academic researchers, pesticide manufacturers, and others. EPA reviewed substantial amounts of new information and conducted assessments based on the best available science, including making Effect Determinations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). With this information and input, EPA has concluded that these registration actions meet Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) registration standards. EPA believes that these new analyses address the concerns expressed in regard to EPA’s 2018 dicamba registrations in the June 2020 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Further, EPA concluded that with the control measures now required on labels, these actions either do not affect or are not likely to adversely affect endangered or threatened species.

To view the final registration of the dicamba products, visit docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2020-0492 at  

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding EPA Re-Registration of Dicamba Products

“Today’s announcement that EPA will move forward to issue a five-year re-register of dicamba-based products is welcomed news. The decision will ensure these products are available for use by farmers during the 2021 growing season and beyond. Nebraska Farm Bureau has been a strong advocate for re-registration of dicamba products to ensure farmers continue to have crop protection product options. We want to thank EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler for making this decision in a timely fashion as many farmers are in the process of making decisions about herbicide purchases for the upcoming year. We look forward to EPA’s release of complete details.”

Soy Growers Appreciate Dicamba to Remain Weed Control Option

The American Soybean Association (ASA) appreciates that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it will reregister dicamba for 2021 and future use. The product is one of many tools integral to the success of soy growers who face different crop production challenges throughout a diverse growing region spanning 30-plus states.

Bill Gordon, soybean farmer from Worthington, Minnesota, and president of ASA said, “We rely in great part on EPA support for the continued success of our industry, from measures encouraging biodiesel market expansion to these types of decisions regarding safe and effective use of crop protection tools. We thank EPA today for the many steps and time invested in coming to this decision to reregister a product relied upon by many soy growers.”

ASA is reviewing the new registration to have a comprehensive understanding of its impact for U.S. soybean production. Dicamba is an important choice for growers to have available to help manage damaging weeds.

 EPA Provides Certainty to Ag Retailers and Farmers Through Dicamba Decision

Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) President and CEO Daren Coppock released the following statement in response to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler's announcement that the agency has granted five-year registrations for dicamba herbicides:

"Ag retailers and their farmer customers have already been working to make decisions for the 2021 growing season while waiting for clarity on if dicamba would be available for use. Now farmers and their retailers can make firmer plans for the next five years with this critical question answered.

"In addition to providing certainty and clarity, we continue to applaud EPA's work to ensure that all decisions are made through a rigorous scientific approval process."

2021 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show is officially on the move

The Cattle Industry Annual Convention and NCBA Trade Show is one of the industry’s largest events each year, bringing together cattlemen and cattlewomen from across the nation to do the work of our industry. This event is the premier event for the beef cattle business!
Unfortunately, the current pandemic presents challenges that make bringing people together in February difficult. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association will hold some of its traditional business meetings in the January or February timeframe, in accordance with the association’s bylaws.

Originally scheduled for February 3-5, 2021, the convention and trade show will now take place August 10-12, 2021. While the event may have a new date, both the convention and trade show will continue to take place at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
We hope you’ll join us in-person in August for the 123rd anniversary of this legendary event. We’re working behind the scenes to create a great line-up of education, speakers and a world-class trade show along with networking opportunities in a safe, responsible manner. We’d like to thank everyone involved in the event from our exhibitors, loyal sponsors and partners for being so patient as we’ve worked through this process. Together we are going to make this event one to remember.

Be sure to dial into our website over the coming months for all the details as we get ready to Tune in to Tennessee.

USDA and FCA facilitate meeting to find ways to better support credit needs of beginning farmers and ranchers

USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey and Farm Credit Administration Chairman Glen Smith are two farmers with similar backgrounds who understand the importance beginning farmers and ranchers play in the future of American agriculture. They brought their two federal agencies together today to facilitate an event to find ways for agricultural lenders to better serve the credit needs of beginning producers.

The event included staff from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), representatives of the agricultural lending community, and beginning farmers and ranchers to explore ways to better serve these producers.

USDA's farm loan programs, direct loans, and loan guarantee programs provide access to credit and needed capital for agricultural lenders to work with beginning farmers and ranchers. These producers have unique financing needs as they strive to start, develop, and grow their operations. The success of beginning farmers and ranchers is critical to ensuring the future viability of U.S. agriculture.

The goal of this event was to begin the process of more effectively leveraging these programs to benefit beginning farmers and ranchers. Farm Credit System lenders, rural community banks, and other agricultural lenders also provide programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers.

During this event, beginning farmers and ranchers discussed their relationships with agricultural lenders and FSA. Event participants discussed what worked well for beginning farmers and where improvements could be made. The event included representatives of the American Bankers Association, the Independent Community Bankers Association, the National Rural Lenders, the Farm Credit System, credit unions, and FSA, discussing how they could improve the way they work together. The groups agreed on the following:
    Establishing a process for agricultural lenders and FSA to communicate when challenges arise in financing beginning farmers and ranchers.
    Engaging agricultural lenders and FSA staff in loan-making training sessions and farm loan conferences.
    Sharing best practices to extend credit and improve creditworthiness by developing workgroups between agricultural lenders and FSA to identify a consistent process to overcome challenges to financing beginning farmers and ranchers.

"I am pleased to join Under Secretary Northey for this important event," said Chairman Smith. "With 58 as the average age of U.S. farmers and ranchers, it’s clear we need new entrants to agriculture to ensure that the industry continues to thrive. FCA is eager to work closely with USDA and other stakeholders to find ways to better meet the financing needs of beginning farmers."

This event solidified the first of many steps FSA and agricultural lenders plan to take to improve financing opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers. While there are many challenges, this event demonstrated that FSA and agricultural lenders are committed to finding ways to improve the opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers — who are, after all, the future of U.S. agriculture.

NIOSH pledges $6 million for child agricultural injury prevention

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has awarded the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, a competitive grant renewal of $6 million over five years to continue the center’s mission of childhood agricultural injury prevention.

New studies being launched address youth operating ATVs for farm work, adolescent mental health, the impact of available childcare on safety practices, and other safety issues important to the agriculture community.

“Childhood agricultural safety has never been more important than now during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Barbara Lee, Ph.D., National Children’s Center director. “Children are spending more time on farms, which can be positive from a family perspective, but it also increases their exposure to farm hazards and raises supervision challenges with home-schooling and closure of many child care centers.”

The National Children’s Center is one of 11 agricultural centers funded by NIOSH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the only center dedicated to childhood agricultural injury prevention. NIOSH announced the renewal Oct. 1.

Although the rate of non-fatal injuries to children in agriculture has declined since the National Children’s Center was established in 1997, agriculture remains hazardous for children and youth. About every three days, a child dies in an agriculture-related incident, and each day, about 33 children suffer preventable injuries. During the past decade, youth worker fatalities in agriculture have exceeded all other industries combined.

“By working with our partners in agriculture, including farm parents, businesses and organizations, we’re helping ensure that safety interventions and guidelines are sustained beyond the span of the grant period,” Lee said.

The new grant includes six distinct research studies, an outreach program, administrative and core leadership, and a national stakeholder advisory board.

Principal investigators within the Research Institute include Lee; Casper Bendixsen, Ph.D.; Bryan Weichelt, Ph.D.; Marsha Salzwedel, Ed.D.; Florence Becot, Ph.D.; and Jeffrey VanWormer, Ph.D. External principal investigators are Farzaneh Khorsandi, Ph.D., and Fadi Fathallah, Ph.D., University of California-Davis; Shoshanah Inwood, Ph.D., Ohio State University; and Josie Rudolphi, Ph.D., University of Illinois. Andrea Swenson, Ph.D., will oversee evaluation of the center’s process, outcomes and impact.

The center will continue to partner with Migrant Clinician’s Network, working with Amy K. Liebman, M.P.A., and her team of professionals dedicated to improving the health of migrant farmworkers and other mobile underserved populations.

The projects:
    “Surveillance of Medically Attended Agricultural Injuries in Farm Children” (VanWormer)
    “Linking Childcare to Farm Children Safety” (Becot)
    “Farm Kid Paradox: Anthropological Inquiry Into The Benefits and Risks of Child-Livestock Interaction” (Bendixsen)
    “Assessing the Impact of Traumatic Injury News Articles on Farm Mothers and Educators” (Weichelt)
    “Farm Adolescent and Mental Health” (Rudolphi)
    “Capabilities and Limitations of Youth Operating Agriculture All-Terrain Vehicles” (Khorsandi and Fathallah)
    “Outreach Core” (Salzwedel)

The National Children’s Center is also supported by Marshfield Clinic Health System and through generous donations and other grants.

Illinios Leads Top Ten Pumpkin Producing States

Pumpkins are one of the most famous symbols of fall. Many consumers enjoy traveling to local farms to pick out their own pumpkins from a patch, carving Halloween jack-o'-lanterns, or making pumpkin desserts. Production is widely dispersed throughout the United States, with all States producing some pumpkins. However, about 62 percent of pumpkin acres were cultivated in only ten States. By acreage and by weight, Illinois is consistently the Nation's largest pumpkin producer.

Unlike all other States, most of Illinois' pumpkins are used for pie filling and other processed foods.

The other top states include California, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

Retail prices for pumpkins typically fluctuate week to week leading up to Halloween.

At the end of the third week of October 2020, the average retail price for jack-o'-lantern style pumpkins was $3.63 per pumpkin, the same price compared to the same week in 2019.