Monday, November 30, 2020

Monday November 30 Ag News


For the week ending November 29, 2020 there were 5.8 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 24% very short, 41% short, 34% adequate, and 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 31% very short, 40% short, 28% adequate, and 1% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 6% very poor, 20% poor, 39% fair, 33% good, and 2% excellent.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 22% very poor, 23% poor, 28% fair, 26% good, and 1% excellent.


Scattered rain and snow showers only allowed Iowa farmers 4.6 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending November 29, 2020, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. The southeastern portion of the State received the most precipitation. Fieldwork activities included harvesting corn for grain, baling corn stalks, applying fertilizer and manure, and hauling grain to elevators.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 12% very short, 28% short, 58% adequate and 2% surplus. Subsoil moisture condition rated 20% very short, 33% short, 46% adequate and 1% surplus.

Only 1% of Iowa’s corn for grain crop remains to be harvested, over 2 weeks ahead of last year and just over 1 week ahead of the 5-year average. Most of the scattered fields left to harvest are in the southern one-third of the State.

Cattle remain on corn stalk fields. Producers continue to haul water for cattle on corn stalks. Fluctuating temperatures have caused some stress for calves in hutches.

USDA - Winter Wheat Condition Up 3 Percentage Points

U.S. winter wheat's good-to-excellent rating gained back last week what it lost the previous week, according to USDA NASS' weekly Crop Progress report released Monday. This is the final weekly Crop Progress report of 2020.

After falling 3 percentage points to 43% the previous week, wheat's good-to-excellent rating rose 3 percentage points last week to reach 46% as of Sunday, Nov. 29. That remains below 52% at the same time a year ago.

An estimated 92% of winter wheat had emerged as of Sunday, 1 percentage point ahead of the five-year average of 91%.

Topsoil moisture for the lower 48 states was estimated at 38% very short to short and 62% adequate to surplus compared to 17% very short to short and 83% adequate to surplus last year. Subsoil moisture was estimated at 43% very short to short and 57% adequate to surplus compared to last year's 18% very short to short and 82% adequate to surplus.

The first weekly USDA NASS Crop Progress report for 2021 will be released on Monday, April 5, 2021.


What Lies Beneath?  A Report on the Monitoring and Assessment for Groundwater Nitrate Contamination in Cuming, Colfax, and Dodge Counties

Do you know what’s in your water?  High nitrates in your drinking water can pose health risks for you and your family.  Increased levels of nitrates can also create additional expense for many private well owners and public water supply systems with the installation of treatment systems to remediate the issue.  To learn more about what lies beneath, and to find out what’s in your drinking water, plan to participate in a virtual informational meeting hosted by the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (NRD) at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 17.

Nitrate is found naturally in the environment, however, since nitrate is a primary component of fertilizer and manure, losses can occur in the form of field run-off and leaching into groundwater aquifers.  Nitrate pollution can occur in numerous forms including from wastewater treatment plants and septic systems, but losses from fertilizer and manure are the main culprits in agriculture-heavy regions.  Nitrate dissolves readily in water and when carried through the soil below plant roots it can easily contaminate groundwater.

“This informational meeting is a step toward informing stakeholders on the results of the groundwater monitoring conducted by the NRD and addressing potential health risks and the critical need to protect our water supply,” said Lower Elkhorn NRD Assistant Manager Brian Bruckner.  He continued, “By implementing best management practices, we can work together to reduce groundwater contaminates and protect our drinking water.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established the maximum contaminant level (MCL) of nitrate-nitrogen for drinking water at 10 parts per million (ppm).   High levels of nitrate can be particularly harmful to infants and children and can lead to methemoglobinemia, commonly known as “blue baby syndrome.”  Blue baby syndrome is caused by decreased ability of blood to carry vital oxygen around the body potentially leading to death.  Pregnant women and adults with certain health conditions are also at increased risk.  Health researchers are looking at the potential links between nitrate contamination in drinking water and incidences of birth defects, pediatric cancer, and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  Bruckner added, “While the body of science is still limited on some of these conditions, the long-term implications of these relationships deserves our attention.”

As part of Lower Elkhorn NRD’s Groundwater Quality Sampling Program, technicians collect annual water samples to document changes or trends in groundwater quality.  Beginning in 2018, the NRD prioritized the collection of groundwater samples as part of its routine monitoring in Cuming, Colfax, and Dodge Counties.  The results from this groundwater quality study have been provided to well owners and indicate the presence of elevated groundwater nitrate that warrant additional action by the NRD.  In October 2020, the Board of Directors voted to begin the formal process of considering a Phase 2 Groundwater Management Area in portions of these three counties.  This informational meeting will provide you with additional insight on the monitoring and assessment segment of this process, along with an explanation of the proposed management area boundaries and controls that accompany a Phase 2 Area in the NRD.

Participation links for this informational meeting webinar will be available on the Lower Elkhorn NRD website and Facebook page.  The public will have the opportunity to view the webinar and submit comments and questions during the event.  For additional information, contact the Lower Elkhorn NRD at 402.371.7313.

USDA Alters Service Center Status at Locations Across State in Response to Coronavirus

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is temporarily restricting in-person visits for numerous Service Centers in Nebraska because of elevated rates of coronavirus community spread, but USDA employees will continue to assist agricultural producers with programs and services.

USDA is using a phased, data-driven approach to determine which Service Centers are open for in-person appointments. Field work, including conservation planning assistance, will continue with appropriate social distancing.

“While many of our Service Centers across Nebraska will be physically closed to visitors, we remain open for business,” said Nancy Johner, State Executive Director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Nebraska.

Added Craig Derickson, State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Nebraska, “Throughout the pandemic, our work with producers has continued, and we remain committed to serving our customers.”

All USDA Service Centers are for open for business, and Service Center staff members from FSA and NRCS will continue to work with producers by phone, email, and digital tools like Microsoft Teams, Box, and OneSpan. Producers can learn more about how to use these digital offerings by visiting

Producers wishing to conduct business with the FSA, NRCS, or any other Service Center agency should call ahead to confirm and schedule appointments. More information on Service Center status can be found at, and contact information for local Service Centers is available at  


– Jerry Volesky, UNL Pasture & Range Specialist
Eastern red cedar trees are a significant and expanding problem across many pasture and rangeland acres in Nebraska.  When fire is planned and controlled properly, it can be a very useful tool to control these unwanted plants.
It is estimated that a single cedar tree with an 8-foot diameter could reduce forage production by 3 pounds.  If you had a density of 200 trees per acre, that would translate into nearly a 1/3 loss in forage production because of the effects of area coverage, moisture use, and shading.
In addition to cedar tree impacts on forage production, excessive cedar trees will also dramatically alter habitat for many wildlife species that are adapted to a grassland environment.  Also, in the event of a wildfire, uncontrolled cedar tree growth can result in devastating and destructive wildfires.
While mechanical cutting or shredding and herbicides are options to control cedar trees, a prescribed burn is by far the most economical approach.
Safe and controlled prescribed burns don’t just happen.  It takes preparation, planning, and an understanding of how fire reacts in certain weather conditions, with particular fuel loads, and on various types of topography.
You can begin to learn how to conduct a safe, legal, and effective prescribed burn by attending the virtual 2020 Nebraska Prescribed Fire Conference.  This webinar will be held on the morning of Tuesday, December 8th and speakers include a variety of researchers and land managers.
To learn more about this conference, including registration and agenda, go online at   

ICON proposal upholds core purpose of livestock identification

The Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska presented a fresh approach to reforming Nebraska’s livestock brand laws at a legislative committee meeting in North Platte Wednesday, Nov. 18.

The Legislature’s Agriculture Committee is conducting an interim study with cattle owners across the state to try to find consensus on reforming Nebraska’s Livestock Brand Act, which is often a contentious and misunderstood issue. A proposed reform was introduced last session but support for it collapsed, so Chairman Steve Halloran called for the interim study.

The ICON proposal starts with the underlying, intended purpose of proof of ownership; commonly mislabeled as the brand laws. The ICON proposal simply promotes equitable application and enforcement of livestock ownership identification requirements across the state and allows for multiple types of ownership identification.

ICON’s proposal is called the Livestock Ownership Verification Act.  Proposed by ICON leaders Don V. Cain, Jr. of Broken Bow and David Wright of Neligh, the proposal creates a framework to ensure the equity of proof of livestock ownership in all areas of the state.

It also:
•          Stipulates that the governor would appoint five members of the Livestock Ownership Verification Agency, as is required now of brand commission members, adding the requirement that members must be from five different geographic areas of the state and own cattle exclusively within Nebraska.
•          Acknowledges that hot brands are still primary evidence of ownership, but also recognizes more technological forms of livestock ID, including electronic devices, nose prints, retinal scans and DNA matches, so long as those forms are first approved by the state livestock ownership verification agency.
•          Makes livestock ID inspectors employees of the state’s law enforcement division.
•          Simplifies the ID requirements for moving cattle to a registered feedlot from a grow yard that is contracted by the feedlot.
•          Provides for enforcement of ownership verification laws.
•          Requires livestock ownership verification inspection only if ownership is changing or the cattle are leaving the state.

“Modernizing the livestock title laws is long overdue,” Cain said. “This is an issue that everyone can agree on and most all of the language has been in state statute for decades. While we will still recognize existing forms of ownership identification, it also allows for flexible and more modern approved forms of ownership verification. Identification is the key to modernization, implementation and acceptance.”

“This is a way to get everyone together, to focus on the basic intent of the law,” ICON President Jim Dinklage said. “It would be a step forward to preserve the integrity of Nebraska’s cattle industry.”

Tax Planning 2020

Austin Duerfeldt, Nebraska Extension Educator

With harvest wrapping up or complete, it is time to finish the last bits of 2020 operation tasks. Many of these tasks are part of tax planning. Here is a brief summary of some of the topics to discuss with your tax preparer before year-end.  

As with every year, 1099s are a requirement by law. Farmers and ranchers are required to issue 1099s for any cumulative payments of $600 or more made in the course of business to a specific entity. Corporations do not receive 1099s though. This includes LLCs that are taxed as a corporation. Sole Proprietors, Partnerships, and LLC Partnerships all need 1099s when they hit the monetary threshold. Taking time to gather the necessary identification numbers, EIN or SSN, and calculating amounts should move towards the top of the to-do list. Three of the most missed are for cash rent paid, attorneys, and non-employee compensation. If you wish to read, more on 1099s there is a CropWatch article at You can also read more on the IRS website at

Prepaid Expenses
With projected farm income being high for the year 2020 due to a late surge in crop prices and direct government payments, many will be looking at prepaid expenses to help with their tax planning. IRS publication 225 goes into detail on prepaid expenses. The expenditure must be for an actual purchase. It cannot be a deposit to buy items in the future. To be a true prepaid expense it should outline a quantity and amount purchased, and should not be refundable or available for substitution. To read more on prepaid expenses and the other rules to follow, visit the CropWatch article at

Constructive Receipts
For cash-basis taxpayers, one common tool in tax planning is the rule of constructive receipts. This is a timing recognition tool. A full outline of constructive receipts can be found in §1.451-2. To sum it up constructive receipts look at when you had access to a payment. For example, if you receive a check in the mail on January 3, 2021 for $2,000 for harvest work and the check is dated December 29, 2020, is it 2020 income or 2021 income? With constructive receipts, we would claim the income in 2021 as that is when we had the ability to cash and use the check. For a more in-depth article on constructive receipts, visit the CropWatch article

Government Payments
I saved the most complicated for last. With multiple direct payments, loans, and grants issued during 2020 there is going to need to be some time dedicated to sorting this out. To give a brief example you have Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 1, Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2, Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, Employee Retention Credit, and Livestock Producer Stabilization Grants for an abbreviated list of potential talking points. Some of these are state, and some are federal. Some of these are grants or have forgiven portions, some are loans that must be paid back, and some are direct payments. The IRS has made some comments on most of these, but a few of them are still being debated as to if they are treated as taxable income. This is all in addition to the more recognizable payments of ARC/PLC and crop insurance. The best advice I can give is to create a summary sheet of all the different types of payments received in 2020 with supporting documents in an easily accessible folder. Once you have your list made and have estimated production income and expenses for 2020, schedule a meeting with your tax preparer. Giving time to digest all of the gears and cogs that are turning this year will give you a better understanding of what tax planning tools need to be utilized.

Other Common Topics
In addition to all of the above points of conversation, there are still parts of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 that are commonly forgotten about. Like-Kind Exchange tends to be the one that catches people the most. Many farms do not trade equipment yearly, so it may be the first time equipment has changed hands since the TCJA passed. I have received many phone calls in panic when producers discover that Like-Kind Exchange no longer applies for trades on equipment. To read more on the subject go to The TCJA changed Section 179 and Bonus Depreciation to help with planning with Like-Kind Exchange no longer available for those assets.

I can honestly say that when the TCJA came out I thought it was going to be one of the most complicated tax planning seasons in memory (I missed out on the implementation of the 1981 Economic Recovery Tax Act). The year 2020 though is bucking for a top spot. If you wish to get the most bang-for-your-buck out of taxes, try to get your information together early and schedule a meeting with your tax preparer.

The Likelihood of Regional Triggers Under the Industry’s Proposed “75% Rule”

Elliott Dennis, Livestock Extension Economist, UNL Dept of Ag Econ

Concern about packing concentration has led to numerous requests for USDA to investigate the potential connection between packet concentration and depressed cattle prices. These calls for investigations and concerns about meatpacking concentration and impact on cattle prices are not new.[1] The most recent concern raised by cattle producers about packer concentration was due to depressed fed cattle prices post-Holcomb fire and COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a USDA report and pending DOJ investigation.

Some legislation has been enacted as a result of previous investigations; most notably the Packers and Stockyards Act in the early 1920s. The recently proposed legislation has largely focused on the potential connection between these market shocks and the level of negotiated trade that occurs. One overarching concern is that to achieve price discovery that is informative in the marketplace, a regional sufficient level of negotiated trade must occur. To help achieve these goals, three bills have been proposed: Senator Grassley’s “50-14” rule, Senator Fisher’s “Cattle Transparency” bill, and Congressman Johnson’s “PRICE” act. These primarily aim to increase the level of negotiated trade, and, in some cases, create a cattle contracts library similar to the one available in the hog industry.

The industry has long been opposed to government regulation that could distort market signals. It responded to proposed legislation by advocating for the “Bid-the-Grid” program and more recently the “75% rule”. The “75% rule” is a voluntary framework that includes cattle feeder and packing plant triggers based on levels of negotiated trade and marketplace participation. The overarching objective is to increase the frequency and price transparency in all major cattle feeding regions.

The framework functions off a series of triggers – four cattle feeding and four packer participation. The packer participation portion of the plan is still under development. The four cattle feeding areas are 1) Nebraska-Colorado, 2) Texas-Oklahoma-New Mexico, 3) Kansas, and 4) Iowa-Minnesota. A minor cattle feeding trigger occurs if less than 75% of the robust level of negotiated trade occurs in less than 75% of the weeks in a given quarter. Three minor triggers equal a major trigger. A major trigger occurring in (a) two of four rolling quarters, (b) any two consecutive quarters, or (c) any two quarters in a calendar year, would prompt the industry to seek legislative action. This policy is likewise conditional on updates from literature and industry, and qualifying Black Swan events or ad hoc events that disrupt the normal cattle flows.

The question is whether this policy meets the objective to increase the level of negotiated trade and cattle price transparency. In other words, if this policy were historically in place, how likely would have minor (major) triggers occurred? Using public data published weekly and available through USDA-AMS from 2013-2020, I analyze this policy by addressing eight underlying assumptions. I further demonstrate potential considerations that could impact the “efficiency” of this policy.
1)     Number of minor triggers required: The current policy states that three minor triggers constitute a major trigger. Details and data on the required packer participation portion are not yet available. Focusing only on the cattle feeding regions and minor triggers defined by the current 75% rule, no three regions have ever triggered in the same quarter. Two or more cattle feeding triggers have only occurred in six quarters, and one region triggering has occurred in 10 quarters. All two or more triggers only occur in the Kansas and Texas-Oklahoma-New Mexico regions. There is at least one trigger in approximately 50% of quarters from 2013-2020. In other words, it is unlikely that a major trigger would occur due solely to cattle feeding negotiated cash levels.
2)     Nebraska-Colorado combination: Colorado and Nebraska are combined in the policy to form one region. The justification for this combination is not stated. Currently, USDA reports these as two separate regions and recent USDA-AMS discussions have recommended combining Colorado with Wyoming, not Nebraska. Two reasons for this combination are possible: 1) Western Nebraska and Colorado have similar climates and 2) issues with the lack of reporting in Colorado. Historically, Colorado has failed to meet USDA confidentiality requirements leading to nonreporting weeks. Combining Nebraska and Colorado reduces the number of minor triggers that would likely occur in a five region – three minor trigger scenario. Figure 1 plots the average percentage of weeks within a quarter failing to meet robust negotiated trade minimums under the four proposed regions plus Nebraska and Colorado. The horizontal dotted black line represents the proposed 75% minimum. Points above this line indicate the region failed to meet robust minimum requirements in that quarter and thus a minor trigger occurred. The NE-CO combination never triggers. Separating Colorado and Nebraska shows that Colorado frequently triggers while Nebraska never violates more than 30% of weeks. Clearly, combining Nebraska and Colorado reduces the potential number of minor triggers.
3)     75% of reporting weeks: For a region to trigger, less than 75% of the robust negotiated trade must occur in more than 75% of the weeks in a quarter, or 10 out of 14 weeks. As the percent of weeks increases towards 100, the policy is less likely to trigger. On the other hand, as the percent of weeks required decreases towards 0, the policy is more likely to trigger. Table 1 illustrates this by fixing the percent of robust trade at 75% and varying the percent of weeks required to satisfy the 75% minimum and determine the percent of quarters activating a minor trigger by each of the four regions. Regardless of the required percent of weeks, there are levels in which Texas-Oklahoma-New Mexico and Kansas regions will trigger. Iowa-Minnesota region would rarely, if ever, trigger, and the Nebraska-Colorado region only begins triggering around 50%.
4)     75% of robust negotiated trade: For a region to trigger, less than 75% of the robust negotiated trade must occur in more than 75% of the weeks in a quarter, or 10 out of 14 weeks. How one defines these robust levels of negotiated trade is likely to be debated. Current robust levels are taken from the Price Discovery Research Project (2017). As the percent of robust trade required each week goes towards 100, more regions will trigger. On the other hand, as the required percent of robust trade decreases towards 0, fewer regions will trigger. Table 2 illustrates this by fixing the percent of weeks at 75% and varying the percent of robust trade required in each week by region and determine the percent of quarters activating a minor trigger by each of the four regions. Under the most stringent policy (i.e. robust trade = 100%) Texas-Oklahoma-New Mexico will trigger in approximately 75%, Kansas 50%, Nebraska-Colorado 10%, and Iowa-Minnesota 0% of quarters. If the policy aims to increase the level of negotiated trade, increasing the required level of robust trade each week will meet this objective but to a slower and lesser extent than changing the required number of weeks (see point 3 above), all else held equal.
5)     Policy evaluation choice: Whether a major trigger is likely to occur is largely dependent on the combination of the level of robust trade required in each week and the percent of weeks required to meet this minimum. The policy defines three minor triggers equal a major trigger. For the industry to seek legislative action, a major trigger must occur in (a) two of four rolling quarters, (b) any two consecutive quarters, or (c) any two quarters in a calendar year. Which of these three criteria to use in the official policy is currently being debated. As mentioned in point 1 above, it is historically unlikely that three cattle feedings regions would trigger at the same time. Thus, I show that the performance of these three criteria varies by the percent of required robust trade, percent of weeks required to meet this minimum, and varying levels of minor triggers required to equal a major trigger. Figure 2 plots the average number of violations within a quarter by these variations. The black dotted vertical line represents the current 75% rule robust negotiated trade minimum proposed in the policy. The panel combination “PCT.OF.WEEKS: 75 & MINOR.TRIGGERS: 3” is the performance of the current proposed “75% rule”. Under the current policy, historically, a major trigger would not have been triggered due to only cattle feeding participation. The criteria of “2 of 4 rolling quarters” and “Any 2 quarters in a calendar year” have similar levels of regional triggers regardless of the percent of robust trade or percent of weeks, both of which, are higher than “Any 2 consecutive quarters”. At higher levels of required robust trade, all policy criteria increase. At lower amounts of weeks required to meet minimum policy, triggers increase. Figure 2 can be used to explore a variety of potential scenarios involving changes to the percent of robust trade and percent of weeks violating minimums and how these choices subsequently affect policy triggers. On average, policy criteria largely perform the same.
6)     Nominal vs. percent of trade: The current policy requires regions to meet the nominal level of trade rather than a percent of total transactions (negotiated cash + negotiated grid + formula + forward contract). In stable market circumstances, the difference between nominal values and percentage is negligible. If cattle slaughter increases over time, then negotiated cash as a percentage of total transactions would decrease and the policy would be less binding. On the other hand, if cattle slaughter decreases over time, then negotiated cash as a percentage of total transactions would increase and the policy would be more binding. Current conversations about the appropriate level of negotiated sales have predominately centered on the percentage or share of transactions, not on the nominal level. For example, the percent of steers and heifers sold via negotiated cash has decreased from about 30% in 2016 to 20% in 2020. Likewise, commercial cattle slaughter has been increasing since 2014 and there is debate on whether carcass weights should continue to rise any further. Given these circumstances, and as the United States seeks to increase beef exports, cattle slaughter is likely to continue to rise, making this issue more important. A comparable parallel would be the hog industry, which has increased hog slaughter to meet increasing export demands, but the percent of hogs sold via negotiated trade has decreased – to approximately 5% of all transactions.
7)     Negotiated sales = negotiated cash + negotiated grid: The policy states that negotiated sales consist of negotiated cash + negotiate grid. Historically negotiated grid is infrequently used, and if used it is more common in regions where there are high amounts of formula and forward contract sales. Defining negotiated sales as negotiated cash plus negotiated grid makes regions less likely to trigger since there are fewer cattle qualifying as negotiated sales. The debate would likely center around whether negotiating grid sales provides the same type of information as negotiated cash sales. Regions that already have a large number of negotiated cash transactions are likely to be less affected by this change in definition than other regions that have historically struggled to meet robust negotiated trade minimums.  
8)     Adjustments due to Black Swan events and ad hoc regional cattle disruptions: The policy currently has a qualifying statement that allows for adjustments to the required robust levels of negotiated trade and weeks satisfying the robust minimum given Black Swan events and ad hoc regional cattle disruptions. Both the Holcomb Fire and COVID-19 pandemic would fit under this category. If required robust trade was reduced and weeks increased during these events then regions would likely not trigger. However, given these potential ad hoc adjustments would this policy helped stabilize negotiated trade during the recent Holcomb Fire and COVID-19 pandemic? If not, then the current market situations which spurred these industry policy changes would not have been improved by the prior implementation of this policy.

The industry’s “75% rule” was developed in response to proposed legislation to solve potential concerns about thinness in negotiated trade across different regions. The current concern surrounding thinness in negotiated trade has more to do with lower cash prices received by producers due to the Holcomb Fire and COVID-19 pandemic. Changes to the federal law or industry policy would not have effectively raised producer prices received for cattle. Further, if this policy would have been implemented before either the Holcomb Fire or COVID-19 it would not have changed packing plants’ ability to process cattle (supply from feedlots) or lack of foodservice’s demand for beef. Figure 1 shows that only the Texas-Oklahoma-New Mexico region tripped during those events.

This policy, in its current form and from the four cattle feeding regions perspective, is not likely to significantly improve the level of negotiated trade nor cattle market transparency. Since it does not change the supply of fed cattle nor the demand for wholesale beef, it is also not likely to increase the cash price received by producers. Anytime a policy is implemented, whether industry prompted or legislatively enacted, there is a potential for creating increased costs and reducing profitability for the entire beef complex. For example, to advert potential legislation, packers and feedlots could change cattle marketing behavior from profit-maximizing to negative policy aversion creating inefficiencies in the beef complex. Consistent with the economic theory of derived demand, these additional costs, spurred on by potential policies, are likely to predominately be carried by the cow-calf industry.

[1] The first time the term the “Big Four” was used was in 1860s. Since then at least eight major investigations have been called for by cattle producers alleging that packing concentration negatively impacted cattle prices. Likewise, concerns about the farm to retail spread or present as early as in 1905. It is important to note that prior to 1960, packer concentration occurred at cattle harvest where carcasses were shipped to meat wholesalers to be broken down carcasses. Post 1960 packer concentration has occurred as packers began breaking down carcasses and selling boxes of beef.

DMC an Essential Risk-Management Option for 2021

Forecasts for prices and politics both make signup for the Dairy Margin Coverage Program a compelling risk-management choice for 2021, National Milk Producers Federation Senior Vice President for Member Services & Strategic Initiatives Chris Galen.

“Congress is still trying to pass another stimulus bill to help all walks of life in our society and our economy and hopefully agriculture will be part of that, but right now there aren't any serious negotiations. Who knows if that can will be kicked into 2021?” Galen said. “What we do know is that the DMC program is forecast to make payments in the first part of 2021. So you've got to go with what you know.”

NMPF is offering dairy farmers, cooperative members and state dairy associations a free webinar on Wednesday, Dec. 2, to help them develop effective risk management plans that can protect them in what’s predicted to be a volatile year in 2021. NMPF Chief Economist Peter Vitaliano will be discussing the dairy price outlook for next year, and the value of risk management tools including Dairy Margin Coverage, in the webinar, moderated by Galen, at 1:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Dec. 2.

Participants will be able to ask questions about the year ahead and learn more about how farmers can manage their risk through expected turbulence. The webinar will examine the milk and feed price forecast, forecast margins, and analyze how the Dairy Margin Coverage program will offer farmers protection against price volatility. Dairy producers seeking more information can visit NMPF’s page on risk management to learn more about DMC, CFAP and other tools to promote financial security for dairy operations.  

Ethanol Producers Call for Increased Octane in New Efficiency Rules

Clean Fuels Development Commission

Several ethanol producers representing more than one billion gallons of capacity  called on the ethanol community to focus their near term advocacy efforts on fuel efficiency rules that are likely to be a top priority for the incoming Biden Administration.
In an open letter to the ethanol community published in Biofuels Digest, the producers said the industry was facing some tough questions as to how to overcome a trend line of lowered demand due to a number of factors. Regardless of who is in the White House they say, reduced gasoline demand, an RFS under constant attack, the emergence of electric vehicles, and inconsistent exports are variables that hinder any sustained pathway for growth.
The letter argues that a high octane low carbon fuel strategy is a win-win for the ethanol industry, refiners, and automakers.  “While E15 provides one point of octane, we have the ability to provide an increase of 2-3 points at the pump and triple ethanol demand from today’s E10!   That much ethanol reduces carbon, not just in the fuel, but also at the refinery level by replacing energy intensive aromatics used for octane.”

The fuel economy rule established in 2012 was regarded as a significant achievement of the Obama-Biden Administration before the Trump Administration rolled back most of the required efficiency increases.   It is widely accepted that this may be one of the first climate related measures the new Administration will address.

The letter concludes with a call to action stating  “Ethanol producers and corn growers need to get behind the rewrite of the SAFE Rule and argue for higher octane while enforcing toxics controls, give us a fair reckoning in our carbon footprint, remove barriers such as RVP limits, and allow ethanol to be used in whatever volume the market demands. Incorporating these pieces into a revised future automobile efficiency standard results in an unfettered path for growth and expansion without federal subsidies or mandates.”

USDA Announces Expansion, Other Improvements to Hemp Crop Insurance

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced it is expanding the pilot Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) plan for hemp. The expansion, as well as other improvements to the plan, will begin in the 2021 crop year.

“We are pleased to expand the hemp program and make other improvements for hemp producers,” said USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) Administrator Martin Barbre. “Hemp offers exciting economic opportunities for our nation’s farmers, and we are listening and responding to their risk management needs.”

The changes announced today include:
    - Expanding the program:
        New states included: select counties in Arizona, Arkansas, Nevada and Texas
        New counties (13) in states with existing coverage: Conejos, CO; La Plata, CO; Moffat, CO; Routt, CO; San Miguel, CO; Kenton, KY; Whitley, KY; Houghton, MI; Granite, MT; San Miguel, NM; Valencia, NM; Scott, TN; Alleghany, VA

    - Allowing broker contracts for hemp grain

    - Adjusting program, reporting and billing dates:
        - Sales closing, cancellation, production reporting and termination dates adjusted to match dates of similar crops
        - Acreage Reporting Dates adjusted based on regional final planting dates
        - Premium billing dates for all states changed to August 15
        - For specific information on dates by county, see RMA’s Actuarial Information Browser

For more information on USDA risk management programs for hemp producers, visit

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Weekend Ag News Round-up - Nov 28

 Nebraska Cattlemen Announce YCC Class of 2021

Nebraska Cattlemen announced the 2021 class of the YCC. YCC nominees were accepted from throughout the state and selected by a committee to participate in the two-year leadership program.

The Class of 2021 includes:
    Allan Louthan, Stanton
    Chance McLean, Stromsburg
    Jake Pullen, Aurora
    Gage Baker, Deshler
    Tevyn Baldwin, Mitchell
    Justin Conner, Arnold
    LaCaylla Fink, Elsmere
    T.L. Meyer, Thedford
    David Schuler, Bridgeport
    Aksel Wiseman, Hershey

“With a year full of uncertainties, the applicants for the 2021 YCC class was not one of them. Per usual we were blessed with a large number of superior nominations. Nebraska Cattlemen leadership welcomes the newly selected individuals as part of our 2021 YCC class and we are eager to introduce them to all of the opportunities our organization provides.” – Bill Rhea, Nebraska Cattlemen President Elect.

The goal of the YCC program is to expose young and emerging leaders to a variety of areas of the beef industry and provide them with necessary leadership tools. During the two-year program, YCC members are provided training on professional communication, given the opportunity to tour multiple Nebraska-based agriculture production facilities and learn to navigate state agencies and legislative processes.

All of this could not happen without generous sponsorship from Farm Credit Services of America and Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation.

Extension webinar to cover updated crop production budgets, new online budgeting program

A Nebraska Extension webinar on Thursday at noon will cover highlights from the 2021 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Crop Budgets and provide an introduction to the new Agricultural Budget Calculator online program that is now available for use and testing.  

Glennis McClure, extension educator and farm and ranch management analyst, will present on updates to this year’s crop budgets, how the projections were developed and how the information can be used by farm managers in their operations. The 2021 budgets are available in PDF format, as well as Excel, which can be updated by the user to match their crop production operations and expenses. The university’s crop budgets are published at and include 83 production budgets for 15 crops, as well as information on budgeting procedures, standard costs used and a production cost summary.

McClure will also demonstrate the new Agricultural Budget Calculator (ABC) — a new web-based enterprise budgeting program developed by the university’s Department of Agricultural Economics. Currently in its testing phase, the ABC program allows managers and producers to enter their field operation procedures, machinery information, prices, and projected revenue, to calculate returns above cash and all costs. The program allows for ease of use in customizing crop enterprise budgets.

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

Registration is free at

Corn & Soy Ambassador Program Applications Deadline Extended - Dec. 4

The Corn and Soy Ambassador Program is a year-long program for college students who are interested in learning more about the industry and becoming better advocates for agriculture. Each year up to 10 students are selected to participate in the program.
Throughout the year, students will take part in three seminars, a summer tour and various promotional events for the corn and soybean industries. Following the completion of the program students will be recognized at the annual meetings of the corn and soybean associations, and each will be presented a $500 scholarship to help them with school expenses. Funding for portions of the program is provided by the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Soybean Board. For more information about the program and an application, please click

Embracing COVID-related Opportunities

Passion and purpose. These two words describe Dr. Laura Greiner’s everyday approach to her profession and her students. She concentrates her passion of animal agriculture into her purpose of educating others on the benefits of animal agriculture for consumers.

Since joining the Iowa State University animal science department and Iowa Pork Industry Center in 2018, Greiner has worked in teaching and research in her primary emphasis area of swine production and nutrition.

In addition to teaching and working with the extension Greiner has four graduate students involved in a variety of projects in swine nutrition and physiology. When COVID-19 became a reality, some of those projects had to change due to packing plant closures.

“COVID’s not all bad, it's given us some opportunities and some good direction at the same time,” she said. “We've had a lot of focus in the last three to four months on how to help those producers manage through how to slow down growth rates on pigs and manage through some of those challenges of flow.”

Other opportunities for her and her colleagues in the animal science department that have arisen due to COVID include finding ways to better prepare for foreign diseases, evaluation of compensatory growth, and management of holding diet programs. She explained this means rather than euthanization being the only option when there is a disruption in the market, other options are now available.

COVID also provided opportunities to find gaps that need to be addressed. One of those gaps was people being prepared to handle a potential mass euthanasia.

“We were not mentally prepared for how long it would take to euthanize animals,” she said. “We now have a new perspective on ensuring more effective strategies for euthanization in the future.”

In addition to her research, Greiner is an instructor for two Iowa State courses: Introduction to Pork Production (AN S 225) and the Pork Fellows class (AN S 480C) that brings people from the industry to talk to students about current issues within the industry. She also teaches an online course on swine science (AN S 280) at Iowa State for individuals in the industry who want more background on basic swine science.

“Teaching in the COVID era has definitely been interesting,” she said.

Interesting in that she now has to record her lectures, which has become more time-consuming. However, she is thankful to be able to have face-to-face classes because it is beneficial for her and students from both connection and energy standpoints.

Through her work and in her approach to life, Greiner continues to pursue her passion of animal agriculture through new opportunities of educating others.

“Life takes you wherever,” she said. “You just have to be open to the experience and opportunities.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Wednesday November 25 Ag News

Groundwater Management Area proposed for Cuming, Colfax, and Dodge Counties

High nitrates in our drinking water can have negative health impacts, and some communities have been required to invest significant financial resources to upgrade their infrastructure in order to deliver a safe, reliable source of drinking water.  The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) is proposing changes to the Groundwater Management Area in portions of Cuming, Colfax, and Dodge Counties in an effort to keep the nitrate levels from increasing.  The proposed management area was scheduled to be addressed at a series of public meetings in December and January.  However, due to COVID, they will now have a virtual meeting on Thursday, December 17th at 6:30 p.m.  The virtual meeting will be conducted using Zoom Webinar and will allow viewers to ask questions using the chat function during the event.  The webinar will be recorded and the information presented will be revisited at the Open House Public Hearing on January 28th in West Point.

Additional Background:  The Lower Elkhorn NRD has been monitoring groundwater quality across their 15-counties in Northeast Nebraska for over 40 years.  In the early ‘90s, a Groundwater Management Plan was established to protect the resource for future generations.  In 1997, a Groundwater Management Area was put in place for the entire district.  As the groundwater monitoring continued, elevated levels of nitrates were detected in portions of Pierce & Madison Counties, which moved portions of those counties into Phase 2 and 3 designations of the Groundwater Management Area requirements.  As part of the Lower Elkhorn NRD’s Groundwater Quality Sampling Program, technicians collect annual water samples to document changes or trends in groundwater quality.  In recent years, elevated in groundwater nitrates have been detected in portions of Cuming, Colfax, and Dodge Counties.  In October 2020, the Lower Elkhorn NRD Board of Directors voted to begin the formal process of considering a Phase 2 Groundwater Management Area in portions of these three counties.

Lower Elkhorn NRD approves applications for new irrigated acres

Landowners within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) boundaries recently had an opportunity to apply for new irrigated acres.  The LENRD board approved applications for standard variances at their November board meeting.

LENRD Assistant Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “We received 94 applications for new irrigated acres during the sign-up period, and eligible applications were processed using the LENRD’s scoring and ranking system.”

The board voted to allow up to 287.41 acre-feet of new peak season streamflow depletions in the LENRD’s Hydrologically Connected (10/50 Area), which calculates to 2,817 new irrigated acres.  The board also voted to allow for the development of 2,540 new irrigated acres in the LENRD’s Non-Hydrologically Connected (Non 10/50 Area).  Staff will be contacting the landowners in writing, for both approved and non-approved applications.  70% of the total number of applications were approved.

In other action, the board approved the annual groundwater allocations for the Quantity Management Subareas subject to allocations for the 2021 growing season.  Bruckner, said, “Each year, the board must determine the annual groundwater allocation amounts for the Wayne and Eastern Madison County Quantity Management Subareas for the upcoming crop year.”  The board voted to keep the allocation amounts the same as previous years:  18 acre-inches per irrigated acre for gravity/flood irrigation systems, 13 acre-inches per irrigated acre for subsurface drip irrigation systems, and 14 acre-inches per irrigated acre for all other irrigation systems in the Eastern Madison County Quantity Subarea, and 17 acre-inches per irrigated acre for gravity/flood irrigation systems, 12 acre-inches per irrigated acre for subsurface drip irrigation systems, and 13 acre-inches per irrigated acre for all other irrigation systems in the Wayne County Quantity Subarea.  These groundwater allocation amounts have remained unchanged since first being imposed for the 2013 pumping season.

In other business, the board approved 7 Community Forestry Incentive Program applications for a total cost of $25,037.22.  The communities receiving grants to remove and plant trees this year include:  the City of West Point, the Village of Emerson, the Village of Uehling, West Point Public Schools, the Village of Pilger, Norfolk Public Schools, and the City of Wakefield.  The board also approved 1 Public Facilities application for a total cost of $2,500 for the Rolling Hills Country Club for the removal and planting of trees.  LENRD Natural Resources Conservation Technician, Todd Stewart, said, “We look forward to working with these communities as they plan for the future.  If you’re in need of trees for your community, your acreage, or your backyard, give me a call, I’d be happy to come out and help you design your project.”

The board voted to instruct staff to work with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency to submit an amendment for the High Hazard Potential Dam (HHPD) grant for Phase 1 of the Willow Creek Dam Artesian Pressure Mitigation.  This amendment would be the first phase in mitigating the artesian pressures present at Willow Creek Dam.  Primarily, this phase would involve installation of wells and pump tests.   LENRD Projects Manager, Curt Becker, said, “This project is another example of the continued effort of the LENRD to partner with agencies in securing available funding.  The district is always looking for grant opportunities in order to maximize the use of our local tax dollars.”  The total estimated project cost is $307,970.00 with $170,000 coming from the HHPD grant.

The board accepted the bid of Cech Excavating to replace rip rap along the shore at Maple Creek Recreation area in the amount of $18,593.75.

The board also voted to contribute $3,000 to the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) for the Risk Pool Insurance Fund.

The LENRD board & staff meet each month to develop and implement management plans to protect our natural resources for the future.  The next LENRD board meeting will be Tuesday, December 22nd at 7:30 p.m.  Watch for further updates and stay connected with the LENRD by subscribing to their monthly emails.


Brittany Fulton appointed Extension Assistant for Women in Ag position

Scottsbluff native Brittany Fulton has been appointed as Extension Assistant for Nebraska Women in Agriculture. She will be responsible for teaching, training, managing educational activities and events, and other duties related to the Nebraska Women in Agriculture (WIA) program.

Her appointment was announced by WIA program director Jessica Groskopf, an Extension Educator based at the Panhandle Research, Extension and Education Center in Scottsbluff, where Fulton will also be based.

Fulton comes to UNL after a seven-year stint at the Denver-based National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, where she served as Director of Stakeholder Communications (2018-20), Associate Director of Organizational Communications (2016-18), and Associate Director of Web Content (2013-15). She graduated from the University of Wyoming in 2012 with a bachelor of science degree in agriculture communications. At UW she was a public relations and marketing intern for Wyoming Stock Growers, the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the UW Dean’s Office.

Nebraska Women in Agriculture is designed to assist women in their agricultural business, according to the program’s website at “The (UNL) Department of Agricultural Economics recognizes the vital role that women play in the agricultural industry and is committed to bringing Nebraska ag women relevant management education,” the website says, focused on both business and family.

Nebraska WIA programs include the annual farm and ranch management conference targeted toward women, attended by about 275 women each year. From that conference, founded in the 1980s, has come a variety of educational programs and workshops. In Nebraska WIA also offers Annie’s Project educational programs, designed to strengthen women’s roles in modern farm enterprises.

Groskopf noted that women are a significant and growing percentage of the population employed by, managing, and owning farms and ranches in Nebraska. Nebraska’s 24,730 female producers (counted by the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture) represented 32 percent of all producers in the state. Their numbers have increased by 22 percent since the 2012 USDA Census. Seventy-two percent of female producers are involved in the day-to-day decision making of Nebraska’s farms and ranches.

Fulton will teach educational programming, train Extension professionals in Annie’s Project facilitation techniques, identify emerging issues focusing on underserved audiences, manage educational activities and events, and pursue grants and other resources.

Her husband, Jesse Fulton, was recently appointed the state coordinator for the Nebraska Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program, and he also is based in Scottsbluff.

She said, “I am excited to be back in my hometown and working with such a great program. Agriculture has always been a passion for me and I want to share that passion with other women throughout the state. Growing up on the farm and my experience at NCBA has given me the opportunity to expand my knowledge in livestock, crops, ag policy and telling the agriculture story.  I hope to be able to share that knowledge and continue to learn in this new role.”

Brittany and Jesse Fulton are both involved in the family farm east of Scottsbluff, where Brittany is the fourth generation on the land. In the past, the farming operation included sheep, cattle and row crops. Currently it is mostly comprised of sheep and working to expand. Growing up, she was heavily involved with 4-H and FFA and showed livestock at the fair.

Nebraska in Top 10 States for Ag Co-op Business Volume

Iowa was the nation's top state for net business volume conducted by agricultural cooperatives during 2019. Based on USDA's annual survey of co-ops, 106 cooperatives doing business in Iowa reported $17.1 billion in net business volume, derived from marketing farm commodities, farm supply sales, and providing services for producers.

Ranking second was Minnesota, where 200 co-ops did $16.5 billion worth of business. Combined, Iowa and Minnesota accounted for 18.9 percent of the $178 billion in net business volume for ag co-ops nationwide.

California ranked third among the states for co-op business volume, with 127 ag co-ops recording $13.4 billion in net business. Illinois was fourth with $12.8 billion in net business by 114 ag co-ops. Wisconsin followed with 94 ag co-ops conducting $9.4 billion of net business. The top five states together generated $69.5 billion in net-business, or 39.1 percent national net business total of just under $178 billion.

Rounding out the top 10 states in net business volume by ag co-ops are Nebraska ($7.7 billion in net business), Washington ($7.5 billion), Kansas ($6.8 billion), North Dakota ($6.6 billion), and Texas ($6 billion). The top 10 states had 57.5 percent of the total net business volume of all states.

Co-ops marketed $48.4 billion in grains and oilseeds in 2019, making it the largest commodity sector in terms of net sales for ag co-ops. Dairy (milk and milk products) was second, at $42.4 billion. Fruit and vegetables ranked third, at $6.7 billion, followed by: sugar ($7.8 billion), livestock ($4.9 billion), cotton and cottonseed ($2.8 billion), nuts ($1.7 billion), poultry ($943 million), rice ($1.7 billion), beans and peas ($224 million), fish ($232 million) and tobacco ($316 million). "Other" products (which includes forest products, hay, hops, seed for growers, nursery products, biofuels, coffee, wool, mohair, etc.) accounted for $5.3 billion in business volume.

Grains and oilseeds marketing made up 41 percent of the total and dairy followed at 35 percent. Thus, these two commodities represented 76 percent of total ag co-op marketing. Following the top two biggest commodities were fruit and vegetables (6 percent of the total), sugar (4 percent), and livestock (3 percent).

For total products marketed by ag co-ops, California, Minnesota, Iowa, Washington, and Illinois were the leading states. California marketed $12.3 billion of farm commodities, followed by Minnesota ($10.1 billion), Iowa ($9.8 billion), Washington ($6.1 billion) and Illinois ($5.9 billion).

The major commodities marketed in California included dairy, fruits and vegetables, nuts, rice, and poultry. Major marketing of commodities in Minnesota were grains and oilseeds, dairy, sugar, livestock and poultry. Iowa was the top state for co-op grains and oilseeds marketed, Arkansas for rice, Maine for fish, and North Dakota for beans and dry peas.

Co-ops sold $53.2 billion in farm supplies in 2019. The highest sales levels among farm supplies, were petroleum and energy products at 18.9 billion, followed by fertilizer at $10.7 billion, feed at $9.9 billion, crop protectants at $3.4 billion, other supplies at $4.6 billion and seed at $3.4 billion.

Petroleum and energy products accounted for 36 percent of total net farm supplies sold by co-ops. Next was fertilizer at 20 percent, followed by feed (19 percent), crop protectants (10 percent), other supplies (9 percent), and seed (6 percent).

The leading state for farm supply sales by ag co-ops was Iowa in 2019 at $6.8 billion in net sales, or 12.8 percent of the nation's total. Minnesota was next with co-op sales of $5.1 billion, or 9.6 percent of all ag co-op farm supply sales. Illinois ranked third, with $4.8 billion in farm supply sales (9.1 percent). Following those states were Wisconsin ($3.4 billion), and Nebraska ($3.2 billion). The states of North Dakota, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, and South Dakota rounded out the top 10 states in farm supply sales by co-ops. The top 5 states had $23.3 billion in farm supply net sales, or 43.8 percent of the total co-op farm supply sales, and the top 10 states had $35.9 billion in sales, or 67.5 percent of the total.

Iowa was the leading state for ag co-op sales of petroleum, feed, and fertilizer. Illinois was the leading state in co-op sales of crop protectants and seed, and Wisconsin led in sales of other farm supplies.

Co-ops also cooperate with each other, conducting a significant amount of inter-cooperative business. A total $23.2 billion in inter-cooperative business occurred in 2019. The sum of inter-cooperative business, net sales, and service income, equaled $201.2 billion (this is excluding patronage and non-operating income). When also including patronage and non-operating income of $1.8 billion, the total was $203 billion, which represents total gross business volume. Total net business volume dropped by $1.3 billion, or by 0.6 percent, from the previous year, while total gross business volume fell by $767 million, or by 0.4 percent.

Iowa Farm to School Programming Blossoms Despite Pandemic

In spite of challenges posed by COVID-19, Iowa’s farm to school and early care work has blossomed in 2020. Two statewide coalitions made up of more than 20 organizations merged earlier this year to make the movement even more powerful.

The newly formed Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Coalition recently released its first annual report. The report was written by evaluators with the Farm, Food and Enterprise Development Program of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. FFED staff also serve on the coalition.
farm to school.

Report highlights

    More than 200,000 Iowa youth at 1,003 sites participated in farm to school and early care activities in 2019-20.
    469 of these sites hosted on-site gardens where students learned to grow, harvest and prepare healthy vegetables.
    390 school districts and early care sites bought food from local farmers to serve their youth. They spent more than $500,000 on this food, boosting both healthy eating and the farmers’ bottom line.
    Iowa farm to school and early care programs earned $375,494 in grants to support their programs last year.

The coalition and its members created a wide variety of programs to build capacity for more sites to participate in farm to school work. Here’s a sample from 2019-20:
    2019 Iowa Local Food Day. On Oct. 11, 2019, more than 280 schools and 10 early care sites around Iowa served at least two locally sourced items at breakfast and lunch — in 107,900 meals. Meal participation jumped that day at 33% of sites. All of the participants said they’d do it again this year. (In spite of COVID-19, 61 schools and sites in 35 counties signed up to celebrate local food on October 14, 2020. They served 9,700 breakfasts and 41,800 lunches featuring Iowa-grown items.)
    Farm to early care training series. This virtual training will launch later this fall, to educate ECE professionals around the state on farm to ECE and how to implement it at their site. It is led by the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children, funded by W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
    Iowa Nutrition Network school grant program. The program introduces students to healthy foods through an interactive nutrition lesson called Pick a Better Snack. Impacts: 14,478 children participated at 32 sites, including 30 school gardens and $58,132 in subgrants awarded to local partners. It is led by the Iowa Department of Public Health, funded by SNAP-Ed.

More information on Iowa farm to school and early care programming is available online at

Weekly Ethanol Production for 11/20/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending November 20, ethanol production expanded 2.9%, or 28,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 990,000 b/d—equivalent to 41.58 million gallons daily and a 35-week high. Production remained 6.5% below the same week last year. The four-week average ethanol production rate rose for the seventh straight week, up 1.3% to 972,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.90 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks scaled 3.3% higher to 20.9 million barrels, which was the highest volume since August and 2.9% above a year-ago. Inventories built across all regions except the West Coast (PADD 5).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, declined 1.6% to 8.13 million b/d (124.62 bg annualized). Gasoline demand was 11.7% less than a year ago.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol flattened at 813,000 b/d, equivalent to 12.46 bg annualized. This was 12.6% below the year-earlier level as a result of the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the second consecutive week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of September 2020.)

Mixed Moves in Retail Fertilizer Prices Third Week of November

Average retail fertilizer prices were mixed the third week of November 2020, continuing a trend that has lasted for several months, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

Prices for five fertilizers were slightly lower compared to the previous month, though none was down a significant amount, which DTN designates as 5% or more. Urea had an average price of $358 per ton, 10-34-0 $455/ton, anhydrous $422/ton, UAN28 $207/ton and UAN32 $249/ton.

The remaining three fertilizers were slightly higher in price from last month. DAP had an average price of $455/ton, MAP $488/ton and potash $336/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.

Retail fertilizer prices continue to be mostly lower in price from a year ago, but there now is one exception. MAP is 5% higher compared to last year with its recent surge to the high side.

DAP is 1% lower, 10-34-0 is 4% less expensive, urea is 8% lower, both potash and UAN32 are 12% less expensive, anhydrous is 15% lower and UAN28 are 16% less expensive than last year at this time.

NCGA and Checkoff Support FFAR Grant to Address Corn Tar Spot

In 2018, an epidemic of corn tar spot plagued corn growers from Florida to Michigan. This plant disease, caused by the fungus Phyllachora maydis, reduced corn yields by as much as 60 bushels per acre. Compounding difficulties, the fungus cannot be grown in a lab, limiting scientists’ understanding of how to fight it. To combat its spread, the Foundation for Food & Agricultural Research (FFAR) awarded a $150,000 Rapid Outcomes for Agricultural Research (ROAR) grant to a group of plant pathologists to study and mitigate tar spot on corn.

This ROAR grant was matched by the National Corn Growers Association, Corteva Agriscience, Wyffels Hybrids, Illinois Corn Growers Association and Purdue University for a total investment of $300,000.

“Research is critically needed for rapid development of management strategies to reduce the impact of tar spot. The National Corn Growers Association, with the support of state corn checkoff dollars, is pleased to provide matching funding for this FFAR grant, which will help identify practices and tools to help growers reduce the potentially devastating effects of this emerging disease,” said Robyn Allscheid, NCGA Research and Productivity Director.

Tar spot was first detected in the US in 2015 and has quickly spread through the Corn Belt. In 2020, tar spot was confirmed in Ontario, Canada and Pennsylvania. Scientists predict that tar spot could soon reach as far west as parts of North Dakota and east to New York, further devastating yields. This disease causes significant losses for farmers’ livelihoods. Even a 1 percent reduction in total domestic corn production could cost American farmers an estimated $231 billion in lost revenue.

Efforts to combat the disease have been hampered by the difficulty of growing Phyllachora maydis in a laboratory – an essential step for developing a remedy. In addition, little is known about the biology of the fungus, which is required to develop effective management practices. The team of pathologists is developing tools and techniques that can help study this pathosystem in basic and applied settings and develop tools to combat the disease. This information will provide farmers with better hybrid choices, improve understanding of management practices for suppressing tar spot and help inform decisions about the need to apply fungicides – which can better protect crops from corn tar spot if the application is timed correctly.

“It’s especially hard to develop solutions for tar spot when the underlying fungus cannot be grown in a lab,” said FFAR Executive Director Dr. Sally Rockey. “Thus, this project will study tar spot in the field to generate the knowledge needed to help farmers make timely and economical decisions to prevent the disease.”

The multi-state effort is focused on developing research tools and information to help growers with tar spot management. The team’s research is mapping where the fungus is present, assessing the potential origins of the fungus and potential alternate hosts, understanding resistance in corn germplasm, assessing tar spot management options such as resistant hybrids and fungicides and developing outreach and extension materials for corn farmers. The researchers are also building forecasting models to help producers make timely fungicide decisions using a free smartphone application and working with corn farmers to collect information that will result in immediate real-world impacts on, and benefits for, producer decisions.

“FFAR-ROAR is a nice platform for enabling researchers to generate preliminary data on rapidly emerging pathogens and pests. In this case, the FFAR-ROAR program enabled several researchers the ability to generate preliminary data that not only are important for producers, but also can be leveraged to support future research projects that will help combat tar spot not only in the US, but other countries where this disease is problematic,” said primary investigator Dr. Nathan Kleczewski of the University of Illinois.

This research is funded through FFAR’s ROAR program, which rapidly funds research and outreach in response to emerging or unanticipated threats to the nation’s food supply or agricultural systems. The research team is made up of plant pathologists from University of Illinois, Iowa State University, Purdue University, Michigan State University, The Ohio State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Grain Export Sales Reach Historic Highs in October

Unshipped export sales of corn, wheat, and soybeans reached 64 million metric tons for the week ending Oct. 29--a historical record, up 2% from last week and almost triple the same time last year.

The increase in export sales was driven mainly by increased exports of corn and soybeans to China.

Also, during the last four weeks, unshipped export sales averaged about 63 mmt, 160% above last year.

Total commitments of corn to China reached 10.8 mmt, compared to just 0.06 mmt last year and the 3-year average of 0.3 mmt.

Total soybean commitments reached 26.8 mmt, more than triple (7.1 mmt) the same time last year and 28% higher than the 3-year average.

Tuesday November 24 Ag News


The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) announced today its selection of the 2020-2021 Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council (NAYC). The 21-member Council, all students at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, will help lead the celebration as NAYC enters its 50th year of promoting Nebraska agriculture and making a difference in the lives of young Nebraskans. NDA sponsors NAYC and its activities throughout the year.

“The student leaders who serve on NAYC dedicate their time to promoting Nebraska agriculture and teaching young Nebraskans about food and the many careers available in agriculture,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman. “It’s always an honor to be selected to serve on NAYC, and I look forward to working with these students as they continue to pursue their careers in agriculture and teach others about food, fuel and the ag industry.”

Throughout the year, NAYC members coordinate and participate in a wide range of activities and events that focus on agriculture. Council members visit elementary schools to talk about where food comes from, take urban youth on farm tours to experience life on a farm, and visit with high school students about career opportunities in agriculture. The primary focus of NAYC is to coordinate the annual Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute (NAYI), a five-day summer conference for high school juniors and seniors full of speakers, workshops and networking opportunities. NAYI is the longest running event of its kind in the nation.

The 2020-2021 NAYC leadership includes:
• Head Counselor: Kelsey Loseke, Blair;
• President: Felicia Knoerzer, Elwood;
• Secretary: Wesley Wach, Hayes Center;
• Vice President of Communications: Cole Kalkowski, Omaha;
• Vice President of Alumni Relationships: Colin Ibach, Sumner;
• Vice President of NAYI Improvement and Promotion: Colton Thompson, Eustis;
• Vice President of Youth Outreach: Layne Miller, Oakland; and
•Vice President of Sponsorship: Isaac Stallbaumer, Oconto.

Additional NAYC members include: Nick Birdsley, Omaha; Jadyn Fleischman, Herman; Emily Hatterman, Wisner; Savannah Gerlach, DeWitt; Mitchell Manning, Fairmont; Abby Miller, Mead; Tyler Perrin, Ogallala; Taylor Ruwe, Hooper; Payton Schiller, Scribner; Megan Schroeder, Wisner; Josie Thompson, Wayne; Clayton Thomas, Bloomington, IL; and Sam Wilkins, Ainsworth.

To learn more, visit NAYC’s website at or search for Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute on Facebook.  

Aaron Holliday Named to 2021 Pork Leadership Institute Team

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the National Pork Board (NPB) have announced the members of the 2021  Pork Leadership Institute (PLI). Aaron Holliday of Columbus will represent Nebraska as one of the eighteen team members from thirteen states.

The yearlong program will have six-sessions beginning in February of 2021 and will wrap up in November of the respective year.  Over the next year, members will be challenged to grow personally and professionally as they dive deeper into understanding the U.S. pork industry.   The training will focus  on preparing and motivating them  to represent the U.S. pork industry at the state and national levels.   

Holliday is with Pillen Family Farms headquartered in Columbus, Nebraska and provides oversight to five nursery barns and six finishing barns, totaling 78,000 pigs. As part of the 2019 Nebraska Pork Producers Assoociation (NPPA) Pork Leadership Program, Aaron shared his unique work experiences as well as his personal involvements and interests.  NePPA President, John Csukker, extended his congratulations by saying, “Aaron was a very active participant in the NPPA Leadership Program and his selection to the National PLI program is the next step in building his professional resume.”

Ricketts, Fellow Governors Call on EPA to Revise Rule on Biogenic Carbon Emissions

Governor Pete Ricketts recently joined the governors of Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and South Dakota to write a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler.  The six governors urged the EPA to revise regulations on biogenic carbon emissions to recognize their negligible environmental impact.

“EPA is the only regulatory authority in the world that neglects to distinguish between biogenic carbon emissions and those from fossil fuels,” the Governors wrote.  “The failure to correct this erroneous policy is harming our agricultural communities and affecting our efforts to expand our states’ biobased industries.”

The EPA’s current regulatory framework hampers rural development by placing unnecessary regulatory burdens on bioeconomic producers in the United States.

“EPA’s regulatory policy concerning agricultural crops disadvantages our states and America’s biobased producers—giving foreign producers a significant advantage,” the Governors wrote.  “According to USDA’s analysis, the nation’s bioeconomy generates $459 billion in economic activity, and provides 4.6 million American jobs.  However, other countries have a substantial competitive advantage for construction, modernization and improvement of facilities.”

Nebraska Beef Council December zoom meeting

The Nebraska Beef Council Board of Directors will have a zoom meeting at the NBC office in Kearney, NE, located at 1319 Central Ave. on Tuesday, December 8, 2020 beginning at 10:00 a.m. CST. The NBC Board of Directors will review evaluations for FY-2019-2020 authorizations request.  For more information, please contact Pam Esslinger at    


– Megan Taylor, NE Extension Educator, Platte Co.

So you pulled some soil cores and now you have the results in your hand, now what? On your soil test results you will want to check out pH, potassium, and phosphorous levels across all soil textures. If you have a lighter textured soil, check for sulfur levels as well. Today we will focus on pH and potassium recommendations.
For pH, you will want to see a soil test result of 6.2 to 7.0. This range allows alfalfa to have high nodulation and is a range that many of the essential nutrients are readily available. With established alfalfa, adjusting pH is challenging and surface application of lime can affect the upper 2 to 3 inches of the soil profile. However, a pH issue in an established stand can cause decreased nodulation and may be a sign to renovate. Bottom line in alfalfa: it is best to be correct the pH issue at least 4 to 6 months before establishment.  Correcting pH in established fields is very difficult and may be a signal to renovate.
Potassium is measured in parts per million or ppm on your soil test sheet. If your test ranges from 126 to greater than or equal to 150, then you do not need to apply potash. If your test ranges from 0-40 (apply 120 lbs. potash/acre), 41-74 (apply 80 lbs. potash/acre), and 75-125 (apply 40 lbs. potash/acre). Potash can be applied in the fall following the last cutting and is recommended yearly for irrigated and in 2 year cycles for dryland.
Remember if you are still wanting to pull soil cores, you will want to sample at 8 inches or historic depth. Collect samples by grid, soil type, or representative area (40 acres or less). Then pull 10 to 15 random soil cores and combine in a plastic bucket. Take about a pint of soil and submit to an accredited lab. If you have questions please contact your local extension educator or agronomist.

Applications Now Available for Class V of Nebraska Corn Growers Association’s PRIME Program

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) is pleased to announce that applications for the next class of the PRIME Program are now available. The PRIME Program is a continuing education opportunity for younger or newer producers who are interested in learning more about agronomic, business, innovations and marketing within their operations. Over the course of a year, participants will come together for three seminars to learn and discuss new ideas that can be incorporated into their own operations.

“Providing opportunities to further education and involvement is one of our core missions,” said Dan Nerud, president of NeCGA. “The PRIME Program is one opportunity for members to focus on the agronomics and business aspects of their operations. I look forward to welcoming the fifth class into this great program.”

The first session will be in March, where participants will have the opportunity to go to St. Louis to tour the Mel Price Locks and Dam. The summer session dates will be determined by participants schedules and will feature a Nebraska Agriculture Tour. The final session will be in conjunction with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association Annual Meeting.  Applications for the PRIME Program can be found at The applications are due by Friday, January 29, 2021. All costs to participate in the program are covered for those that are 3-year members of the Association. If applicants are not members, the fee is $190 (the cost of a 3-year membership).

The PRIME Program is made possible with funding from our presenting partners, Northwestern Mutual and Farm Credit Services, along with the Nebraska Corn Board. For more information about the PRIME Program, please visit

Building Your Future with Virtual ICA Policy Committee Meetings and the Annual Meeting

Due to restrictions related to COVID-19, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association is wrapping up this year’s policy development process on Zoom. Members of the cattle industry are invited to attend the virtual Policy Committee Meetings and the Annual Meeting during the months of December and January.

Producers across the state will dive deep into issues affecting Iowa’s cattle industry. Attendees will review expiring policies, hear updates on hot topics in the industry and debate new policies. Each meeting will begin at 7 p.m.

“For many years, the Iowa Cattle Industry Leadership Summit has functioned as the culmination of the policy development process for our members. This year may look different than face-to-face opportunities of the past, but the business that needs to be accomplished is just as important,” said Cora Fox, ICA Director of Government Relations.

With changes in Washington, D.C. and in Iowa, we need your input now more than ever to ensure the interests of the beef producers are protected and pursued. As the definitive voice of Iowa’s cattlemen, it’s important that we have policy on the books to support the beef cattle industry.

Mark your calendars for the dates below.

Business Issues Committee
Some topics of interest in this committee might include: Regulation of Livestock Haulers, Land Acquisition, Soil Conservation, Tax Credits or Capital Gains.
    December 2 at 7:00 p.m. (Review expiring policies)
    December 9 at 7:00 p.m. (New policy/discussion)

Cattle Production Committee
Discussion during this committee could include: Foreign Animal Disease Response, Green/Gold Tag Preconditioned programs or Live Cattle Marketing.
    December 29 at 7:00 p.m. (Review expiring policies)
    January 5 at 7:00 p.m. (New policy/discussion)

Beef Products Committee
Country of Origin Labeling, World Trade, Iowa Beef Checkoff or Alternative Meats could be the topic of conversation during one or both of these meetings.
    January 12 at 7:00 p.m. (Review expiring policies)
    January 19 at 7:00 p.m. (New policy/discussion)

Annual Meeting
The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association will finalize the policy development process with ratification at the Annual Meeting, which will be on January 26 at 12:00 p.m.

These meetings are for current producer members. To register for policy committee meetings and the ICA Annual Meeting, visit:  

HOG Awards Made at the Iowa Football State Championships

Six Iowa high school football players took home awards recognizing their play during the final games at the 2020 Iowa High School State Football Championships last week.
Hog of the Game (HOG) awards went to the outstanding offensive lineman in each of the championship games. The HOG awards are sponsored by the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) and awarded by the Iowa High School Sports Network (IHSSN).
HOG award winners were recognized for their strength and speed in creating opportunities for their teams to be successful.
"We sponsor this award to recognize the often un-sung linemen who are out front and helping their team be effective," said IPPA President Mike Paustian of Walcott. "Just like Iowa's pig farmers, these players work hard to create opportunities for their team and their communities to be successful."
"The IHSSN is grateful for IPPA's sponsorship of this award. Everyone we visited with about the Hog of the Game commented that IPPA had knocked it out of the park with this type of recognition. We have been associated with the IPPA for more than 10 years, and they have been a first-class organization to work with," said Ken Krogman, president of IHSSN.
Iowa high school players who received the 2020 HOG awards are:
    Xavier Galles of St. Mary's High School in Remsen. The Hawks won the 8-player tournament. Galles is a senior and the son of Lee and Angie Galles, Remsen.
    Josh Gaffey, a junior at Iowa City Regina, which won the Class A contest. Gaffey is the son of James and Sally Gaffey of Iowa City.
    Gabe Kuehler, a senior at Van Meter High School. Van Meter was the runner-up in the Class 1A title game.
    Sawyer Krueger, a senior at Waukon High School, the winner of the Class 2A tournament.  
    Carson McCaughey, a senior at North Scott High School in Eldridge. North Scott won the Class 3A Championship.
    Logan Curtis, a senior at Ankeny High School, the Class 4A tournament winner.

EPA Seeking Comments on Updated Plant Biostimulants Guidance

In recognition of the growing class of products generally known as plant biostimulants, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting comments on an updated Draft Guidance for Plant Regulators and Claims, Including Plant Biostimulants.
“Plant biostimulants are increasingly being used by farmers to increase agriculture productivity,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Alexandra Dapolito Dunn. “When finalized, our Plant Biostimulants Guidance will provide sought-after certainty and transparency for this growing area of the economy.”
Plant biostimulants are a relatively new but growing category of products containing naturally occurring substances and microbes. Their increasing popularity arises from their ability to enhance agricultural productivity through stimulation of natural plant processes using substances and microbes already present in the environment. Plant biostimulants can also reduce the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers, making it an attractive option for sustainable agriculture and integrated pest management programs. Benefits include:
-    Increased plant growth, vigor, yield and production.
-    Improved soil health.
-    Optimized nutrient use.
-    Increased water efficiency.
While many plant biostimulants are not regulated as pesticides, certain mixtures and plant regulators can be pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
Today’s released updated draft guidance incorporates diverse and helpful changes made in response to stakeholder feedback received during the draft guidance’s initial comment period in 2019. EPA now will seek input on those changes, including the wording of certain plant and non-plant regulator claim examples.
The public comment period will be open for 30 days in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2018-0258 at After carefully considering the comments received, EPA anticipates finalizing this guidance in January 2021.

Organization for Competitive Markets Addresses disparaging comments from NCBA leadership
Written by: Fred Stokes

LINCOLN, NE – Today the Organization for Competitive Markets issued the following statement from Fred Stokes, VP and founder of OCM, after a series of cattlemen’s meetings held in Florida in an attempt to bring industry stakeholders together for the betterment of the industry. This statement follows a campaign of misinformation by NCBA president Marty Smith and CEO Colin Woodall who attacked OCM and it’s board members.

“Colin Woodall, speaking on behalf of NCBA has resorted to absurd and reckless rhetoric in his attempt to impute guilt-by-association to OCM; claiming it is supported by and in partnership with HSUS. He also makes the charge that OCM is not an advocate for cattlemen and makes the outrageous and likely libelist charge that OCM is a domestic terrorist organization.

Let me address these two matters separately, starting with the terrorist charge. I am generally credited with being the primary founder of OCM. I am a retired Army Military Intelligence Officer who held the nation’s very highest security clearance. I served two tours of duty in Vietnam and returned without a scratch. But, I received seven air medals and two awards of the bronze star medal. Two other current board members were previously military officers. OCM has a twenty-two year record of conduct in the best traditions of our beloved country.

Every member of the Board of Directors over the past twenty-two years of the organization’s existence has been an honorable, law-abiding and patriotic citizen of this country. OCM has tenaciously adhered to its mission of making agricultural markets open, transparent, competitive and fair so that independent family agriculture and rural America might prosper. This is hardly the profile of a terrorist organization.

OCM’s shining a bright light on NCBA misdeeds and causing them to become terrified does not make OCM a terrorist organization.

The real terror comes from the caliphate of NCBA, who continues to use cattlemen’s own hard-earned tax dollars to put them out of business and to create more consolidation among the four big packers.

As to OCM’s relationship with HSUS; it has been limited to “in kind” legal support of OCM’s actions delving into NCBA’s suspect handling of beef checkoff funds. This support was voluntarily provided with NO STRINGS ATTACHED. OCM is neither funded by or in partnership with HSUS.

In 2010 Clifton Gunderson Accounting firm conducted an independent audit of NCBA’s expenditures of checkoff funds at the behest of Tom Jones, President of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. After examination of 1 % of the transactions for a period of two years and five months (9 days), gross “misspending” was found. Unauthorized spousal overseas travel, a $150,000 loan to NCBA’s Executive Director to buy a house and a $2,000,000 advance to NCBA for unspecified future work were among the many misappropriations found. The finding smacked of the beef checkoff fund being used as an NCBA slush fund. As a result of the audit, NCBA was required to refund to the CBB, more than $300,000. This was seen by many of us as but the tip of the iceberg. The audit sent shockwaves throughout the industry. Both the CBB President and Executive came under fierce hostility for their audacity in authorizing the embarrassing outside audit. Both resigned!

In February of 2011, a USDA OIG Audit of the Beef Checkoff Program was commenced at the request of OCM and other allied organizations. A number of OCM members met with the OIG Audit Team at the outset and shared its concerns regarding abuse of these funds. OCM furnished significant information to the OIG investigators during the almost year-long investigation. In almost all cases the investigation team acknowledged finding the information to be factual and useful. I personally had periodic communications with team leader, Mr. Don Pfeil. This relationship was cordial, but ethical and proper. It was clear from these conversations that investigators were focused on the propriety of financial transactions and related aspects, not the supervision of the program by USDA AMS. Mr. Pfeil stated to me, “I am going to follow the money.”

A conversation with Mr. Pfeil in December of 2011 revealed that his team had finished their work and that their findings were now in the hands of the “report writers”. Pfeil stated that he expected a report to be publicly released by March of 2012.

There were rumors and speculation as to what the report would reveal. Many thought the more in-depth examination (OIG Audit) would indeed prove the Clifton Gunderson findings to be but a smattering of the irregularities and provide

a strong indictment of NCBA. Others took a more cynical view; that NCBA was well connected and thus the audit would be a sham. This view was supported by a conversation overheard at the February 2012 joint CBB/NCBA meeting at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. A Pulitzer Prize winning reporter from a major newspaper reported that he overheard a USDA AMS representative tell NCBA officials that he (AMS rep.) had seen the draft OIG report which contained some “bad stuff”. He continued; “but don’t worry I fixed it.”

The “first” final OIG Report was released in March of 2013, fifteen months after the conclusion of the investigation. The report writing process had generated thousands of pages of drafts, as the basis for the scant seventeen page report that effectively exonerated NCBA. Most of us in OCM and in other allied organizations, viewed the report as a whitewash and cover-up.

In the first place, the report did not “follow the money” but rather focused on USDA AMS’s oversight of the program. Because of the uproar, or for some other unknown reason, this first report was withdrawn to be reworked and re-released in late January 2014; some three years after the audit began. There were few changes, but the outright vindication of NCBA was removed.

Not only does NCBA have disproportionate influence over who is awarded Checkoff contracts, it also has tremendous influence over the success or failure of entities that are awarded contracts. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that NCBA and its affiliated state organizations exerted undue influence to cause non-NCBA contractors to fail. For example, the National Livestock Producers Association previously was awarded the contract to implement the Checkoff’s Beef Mobile program, a program that necessitated the cooperation of State Beef Councils for its success. However, based on our best available information, the State Beef Councils (controlled by NCBA) refused to cooperate with this non-NCBA affiliated organization, thus ensuring the failure of the program and exclusion of the National Livestock Producers Association from the Beef Mobile program contract.

The Checkoff Program’s clear and unambiguous language prohibits using any Checkoff funds, in any manner, for the purpose of influencing governmental action or policy, with the single exception of recommending amendments to the Order. However, NCBA routinely charges one-half of its officers travel expenses to the Checkoff. According to the OIG Audit Report itself, 83% of NCBA’s total revenue comes from the Beef Checkoff. These funds pay a major portion of salaries and overhead and are essentially the organization’s lifeblood.

The NCBA IRS Form 990 for 2017 reflects that the Executive Director position that Mr. Woodall currently holds pays $574,000 per year in total compensation. Numerous other NCBA officials receive salaries of more than $200,000.

In August of 2012, The Polsinelli Law Firm of Kansas City filed a suit on behalf of OCM against NCBA and USDA based on the conflict of interest constituted by NCBA’s undue influence in the contract awarding process. Immediately, intense pressure came from the Big Ag community, causing Polsinelli to withdraw from the suit.

In May of 2014, the President of HSUS offered legal assistance to support litigation against USDA OIG to compel compliance with a previous and long-ignored OCM Freedom of Information Request. This support was furnished with no strings attached. OCM appropriately expressed its gratitude.

In 2018 NCBA became an Intervenor in OCM’S FOIA suit after learning that 10,000 pages of unredacted financial records and ledgers were deemed relevant and would potentially be released to us. As a pretext for opposing the release, NCBA made the absurd claim that OCM competed with NCBA in the Contract Bidding process and that this “Privileged and Confidential” information would cause them competitive harm.

NCBA, USDA AMS and USDA OIG have all gone to extraordinary lengths to stall and resist release of the records that would show how beef checkoff funds were expended. Hard-pressed beef cattle producers are compelled to provide the $80,000,000 each year to fund the beef checkof program; they are entitled to know how their money is being spent! The protracted and aggressive resistance to the release of records raises an obvious question; what are they trying to hide?

The Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 has been a dismal failure in terms of promoting the interests of the U. S. cattle producers who fund the program. Since the program began, per capita consumption of beef has diminished with a resultant loss of market share and many producers have been driven out of business. Those remaining have struggled to remain viable. In terms of promoting the interests of U. S. checkoff-paying cattlemen, it is reasonable to say that the almost $3 billion that has been spent over the past thirty-five years has been wasted.

NCBA has a long record of working against the interests of cattle producers. They were a plaintiff in litigation to block implementation of COOL (Country of Origin Labeling); worked against producers seeking mandatory price reporting; against cattle producers that opposed the National Animal Identification System (NAIS); against cattle producers that supported captive supply reform in a major class-action lawsuit; against cattle producers that tried to prevent the premature reintroduction of imported cattle from a disease-affected country; against cattle producers that attempted to ban packer ownership of livestock in both the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills; and were key in effectively opposing the proposed Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rules that clarifies and defines how GIPSA will administer and enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act.

Based on NCBA’s reporting of membership numbers, they have only one cattleman in thirty-three as members. So, it appears that cattlemen have been compelled to be the principal funder for an organization that has a mere 3% of total cattle producers as members. Clearly, NCBA has used the approximately $1.2 billion it has received since 1996 to become the spokesman for the entire industry.

It is my opinion that as long as NCBA is the voice of the industry and the spokesman for producers, the future of independent ranching in this country is very bleak.”