Wednesday, November 25, 2020

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.”

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