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.

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