Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Tuesday February 23 Ag News

 LEAD set to resume this fall, Fellowship Applications Available for Group 40

The Nebraska Leadership Education Action Development Program (LEAD), a two-year development program for leaders in the state’s agricultural sector, will resume programming in 2021, following a year-long pause as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Nebraska LEAD is accepting applications for its 40th cohort until June 15. In addition, the program’s 39th cohort will resume its monthly seminars and other scheduled activities this fall.

“We are anxiously anticipating the resumption of LEAD programming this coming fall. We have spent our pause year reassessing the entire program,” said Ed Woeppel, Chairman of the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council, which sponsors the program. “We are confident that the Nebraska LEAD Program is positioned to continue to be a leader in agricultural leadership development. We look forward to continuing the experiences for LEAD 39 after a one-year pause as well as to welcome in a new group in LEAD 40.”

Applications for Group 40 are now available for men and women involved in production agriculture or agribusiness.  

“Up to 30 motivated men and women with demonstrated leadership potential will be selected from five geographic districts across our state," said Terry Hejny, Nebraska LEAD Program director.

Applications are due no later than June 15 and may be requested via e-mail by contacting the Nebraska LEAD Program office at leadprogram@unl.edu. Those interested in the program may also request an application by writing to Nebraska LEAD Program, 104 ACB, Lincoln, Neb., 68583-0940 or by calling (402) 472-6810. Information about the selection process is available at www.lead.unl.edu.  

LEAD fellows attend monthly three-day seminars throughout Nebraska from mid-September through early April each year. Fellows also have the opportunity to participate in a 10-day national study/travel seminar, as well as a two-week International study/travel seminar.

Seminar themes include leadership assessment and potential, natural resources and energy, agricultural policy and finance, leadership through communication, Nebraska’s political process, global perspectives, nuclear energy, social issues, understanding and developing leadership skills, information technology, advances in health care, and the resources and people of Nebraska’s Panhandle, Hejny said.

The Nebraska LEAD Program prepares the spokespersons, problem-solvers, and decision-makers for Nebraska and its agricultural industry. The program is operated by the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council, a nonprofit organization, in collaboration with the UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and in cooperation with Nebraska colleges and universities, business and industry, and individuals throughout the state.


– Ben Beckman, NE Extension Educator

Protein and energy are two critical components to providing our animals with a balanced ration.  Unfortunately we often focus on one side of the paring or forget that digestion is a complicated process between both sets of nutrients.  When this happens rations become unbalanced.
Swings in the energy content of a forage are often less noticeable than the impact relatively small shifts in protein can make.  It can be easy to get lazy and “judge the feed by its protein” and lose track of the energy side of a ration, just assuming that it’s covered.  This can result in slow body condition declines, but can really come back to haunt us when animal energy demands peak, like during cold temperatures or at peak lactation.
Beyond giving energy and protein equal consideration when feeding, understanding the relationship between the two during digestion is critical.  Ruminants require protein for two main reasons, for the animal itself and for the microorganisms in the rumen responsible for breaking down hard-to-digest plant parts.  If animals aren’t gaining like we want or it’s a cold day, it might be tempting to supplement a low protein forage diet with some cracked corn.  We’ve recognized the need for more energy and are meeting it right?
Sort of.  The animals could use more energy, but by providing it in the form of starch without additional protein in a diet with less than 9% Crude Protein, we goofed.  Because the animal can’t break down starch efficiently, they need the rumen microbes to do it for them.   Each diet is different, but in this circumstance, the microbes can’t do their job effectively without more protein.  Most of that additional energy is going unused.
Providing animals with the right balance of protein and energy in a diet is crucial for a healthy herd, but doing so takes some time and know-how.  Don’t forget to look at both parts of the diet and how they interact.  And as always your local beef extension educator is happy to help if you have questions.

AFAN Announces the 2021 Nebraska Pork Expo

Anyone considering expanding or diversifying their operations are invited to the Nebraska Pork Expo set for July 21 in York, Neb.  The program will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Holthus Convention Center. Admission is free and lunch will be provided. Registration is requested by July 7, 2021.

The day will begin with a tradeshow and breakfast from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Attendees will hear sessions on marketing and risk management, sustainability and renewable energy, ASF and traceability along with much more throughout the day. Panel discussions will be held over niche and contract pork production. A social hour will be held from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. to round out the day.

The event is sponsored by the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN), the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.

“The pork industry in Nebraska continues to grow and there are many great options for farmers looking to diversify with pork production. Diversifying an operation with livestock can increase cash flow and provide valuable nutrients that can offset commercial fertilizer costs,” said Kris Bousquet, AFAN director of livestock development. “We have designed this conference to provide farmers with the information and insight they need to consider adding swine production to their operations for future growth.”

Reservations can be made by visiting www.becomeafan.org.  


It’s application time for one of the biggest youth agriculture outreach events in the
state—the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute (NAYI). This year, NAYI is celebrating 50 years of bringing together high school juniors and seniors to learn more about Nebraska agriculture, network with agriculture leaders and discover the many careers available in agriculture. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) helps sponsor and coordinate NAYI every year.

NAYI will be held July 12-16, 2021, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s East Campus and will follow any COVID-19 recommendations in place at the time. Applications for NAYI are available at nda.nebraska.gov/nayi and must be submitted online. Current high school juniors and seniors interested in attending have until April 15, 2021, to apply.

“NAYI is 50 years strong this year and still the longest running agricultural youth program of its kind in the nation,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman. “NAYI offers networking, career development and leadership activities in creative and fun ways to engage high school students interested in the ag industry. Be sure to encourage the high school juniors and seniors you know to apply to NAYI before the April 15th deadline.”

This year’s NAYI 50th anniversary theme is “Timeless Traditions” and will feature motivational speakers, discussions on agricultural issues and career options, a farm management game, awards presentations and creative opportunities to interact with other participants.

NAYI is coordinated by the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council, which is comprised of 21
college-aged students selected by NDA for their passion and interest in the ag industry. The Council’s purpose is to provide young Nebraskans with a better understanding of agriculture, including agricultural opportunities available to today’s youth and career choices for the future.

NDA selects students to attend NAYI based on their leadership skills, interests and involvement in agriculture. Applications are available online at nda.nebraska.gov/nayi and must be submitted by
April 15, 2021, at 11:59 p.m.

Northeast Nebraska farmer to be featured on Women in Ag webcast

“Open for Business: A Nebraska Women in Agripreneurship Series” will feature Hannah Borg, a sixth-generation farmer in northeast Nebraska, during its next live webcast on March 9 at 6:30 p.m.

Produced by Nebraska Women in Agriculture, the monthly webcast series highlights the entrepreneurial spirit of women in agribusiness from across the state, offering creative insights and the stories behind what it takes to build a business.

The conversations focus on surviving business shocks such as disasters, regulatory changes and shifting family dynamics. Featured business leaders are interviewed by Brittany Fulton, extension assistant with the Nebraska Women in Agriculture program.

Borg’s family farm, near Allen, Neb., raises crops, cattle and chickens. Her main role is operating the pullet barns that they raise for Costco. When she isn't farming, you can find her behind a camera or in a history book.

Borg graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s in Agricultural Communications. She has interned for FarmHer and the Rural Radio Network as a farm broadcaster, is active at her church and is a board member at the Wakefield Heritage Organization.

The webcast is free to attend but registration is required on the Nebraska Women in Agriculture program website, wia.unl.edu.

2020 Annual Milk Production up 2.2 Percent from 2019

The annual production of milk for the United States during 2020 was 223 billion pounds, 2.2 percent above 2019. Revisions to 2019 production increased the annual total 59 million pounds. Revised 2020 production was up 165 million pounds from last month's publication. Annual total milk production has increased 13.7 percent from 2011.  Production per cow in the United States averaged 23,777 pounds for 2020, 382 pounds above 2019. The average annual rate of milk production per cow has increased 11.5 percent from 2011.  The average number of milk cows on farms in the United States during 2020 was 9.39 million head, up 0.5 percent from 2019. The average number of milk cows was revised up 6,000 head for 2020. The average annual number of milk cows has increased 2.1 percent from 2011.

2020 Annual Milk Prod. by State

                       (billion pounds - % of '19)

Nebraska ........:          1.46           +3.6%    
Iowa ...............:         5.374         +1.6%    

January Milk Production up 1.8 Percent

Milk production in the 24 major States during January totaled 18.3 billion pounds, up 1.8 percent from January 2020. December revised production, at 18.0 billion pounds, was up 2.6 percent from December 2019.  The December revision represented a decrease of 74 million pounds or 0.4 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.  Production per cow in the 24 major States averaged 2,049 pounds for January, 15 pounds above January 2020. The number of milk cows on farms in the 24 major States was 8.93 million head, 92,000 head more than January 2020, and 6,000 head more than December 2020.

IOWA: Milk production in Iowa during January 2021 totaled 468 million pounds, up 3% from the previous January according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during January, at 222,000 head, was 2,000 more than last month and 7,000 more than January 2020. Monthly production per cow averaged 2,110 pounds, up 5 pounds from last January.

USDA Cold Storage January 2021 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on January 31, 2021 were up 3 percent from the previous month but down 12 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 3 percent from the previous month but up 6 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 11 percent from the previous month but down 26 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 2 percent from last month but down 56 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on January 31, 2021 were up 3 percent from the previous month but down 11 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were down 5 percent from the previous month and down 15 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 37 percent from last month and up 2 percent from January 31, 2020.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on January 31, 2021 were up slightly from the previous month and up 3 percent from January 31, 2020.  Butter stocks were up 20 percent from last month and up 33 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks on January 31, 2021 were down 11 percent from last month and down 18 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 8 percent from last month but up 5 percent from a year ago.

I-29 Moo University Dairy Beef Short Course Planned

Industry professionals and beef producers who are finishing and marketing dairy beef are invited to virtually attend the I-29 Dairy Beef Short Course. The webinar, offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, is set for March 23.

It features a morning session from 10 a.m. to noon and an afternoon session from 1-3 p.m. Participants may choose to attend one or both sessions.

The morning session focuses on factors affecting dairy beef performance. Tara Felix, extension beef specialist at Pennsylvania State University, will present information on the role of nutrition and implants in dairy beef health and animal performance. Following her is Phil Durst, field-based educator with Michigan State University with over 30 years of experience working with farmers. He will share how dairy beef employees influence animal health and performance.

The afternoon focuses on the future of dairy beef production from a consumer lens and an economic standpoint. Bill Halfman, extension agricultural agent with the University of Wisconsin – Madison, will provide an understanding of economic factors that influence the return on investment to the operation. Rounding out the day is Lisa Scebbi, director of marketing at JJBS USA. She will focus on how future consumer trends may optimize market opportunities for dairy beef.

Registration for the event is $25, payable through the online registration form, and must be done before March 22. The webinar session links will be sent following registration. At the conclusion of the webinar, participants will receive an electronic copy of the proceedings along with access to two recordings of the two sessions.

See more information on the I-29 Moo University website. Direct inquiries may be made to Fred Hall, ISU Extension and Outreach dairy specialist, at fredhall@iastate.edu or Beth Doran, ISU extension and outreach beef specialist, at doranb@iastate.edu, or phone 712-737-4230 to visit with either of them.

The Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University was established in 1996 with the goal of supporting the growth and vitality of the state’s beef cattle industry. It comprises faculty and staff from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine, and works to develop and deliver the latest research-based information regarding the beef cattle industry. For more information about IBC, visit www.iowabeefcenter.org.

Farmers Union Ready to Work with Secretary Vilsack to Strengthen Farm System

In a 92-7 vote, the U.S. Senate today confirmed Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture, demonstrating strong bipartisan support for President Joe Biden’s pick. Vilsack previously held the position for eight years under President Barack Obama.

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Rob Larew released the following statement in response to the news:

“No one is more qualified to lead the USDA than Tom Vilsack. After serving as Secretary of Agriculture for eight years, he knows the agency inside and out, giving him the insight he needs to get to work right away on behalf of family farmers, rural communities, and hungry Americans.

“That’s a good thing, because there is no shortage of things to get done; most immediately, he must prioritize pandemic recovery. That means ensuring that all Americans have access to food, providing farmers of all types and sizes with the relief they need to stay in business, helping rural hospitals treat critically ill patients and distribute vaccines, and protecting workers across the food chain from covid-19.

“But the pandemic is hardly the only problem beleaguering agriculture; the industry is also grappling with a rapidly changing climate, unchecked corporate power, persistent oversupply, institutional racism, an aging population, and insufficient local processing infrastructure. During his second stint as Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack can’t let any of these issues fall by the wayside. We look forward to working with him towards lasting, meaningful reforms that will secure a bright and prosperous future for family farmers and their communities.”

 Fischer Statement on Confirmation of Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement after the Senate voted to confirm Thomas Vilsack, President Biden’s nominee to serve as Secretary of Agriculture:

“Agriculture is the economic engine of Nebraska, and I look forward to working with Secretary Vilsack on key issues for our ag producers. This includes facilitating market access for our products, addressing the lack of price discovery in the cattle market, and supporting our biofuels industry.”

NeFB Statement Regarding Tom Vilsack Confirmation as Secretary of Agriculture

Mark McHargue, President, NE Farm Bureau

“Nebraska Farm Bureau congratulates Tom Vilsack on his confirmation as the next U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. As Secretary Vilsack knows, there are many challenges, yet also many opportunities for American agriculture. We look forward to working with him to tackle those issues in a way that leads to prosperity for our members, particularly in the areas of expanding markets for agricultural commodities, extending high-end broadband to every corner of America, and ensuring environment and climate initiatives work for farm and ranch families.”

Naig Applauds Vilsack’s Confirmation as U.S. Ag Secretary

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig issued the following statement today in response to Secretary Tom Vilsack’s confirmation as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

“Having an Iowan at the helm of USDA is positive for our state’s agriculture community. Secretary Vilsack will be able to hit the ground running given his previous experience as agriculture secretary, and being a former Governor, he understands the partnership between states and the federal government. I look forward to working alongside Secretary Vilsack to continue to grow demand for renewable fuels, prevent foreign animal diseases, advance water quality and soil health, promote international trade and support investments in rural America.”

IRFA Congratulates USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack

Today the U.S. Senate voted to confirm former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack to be the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for the second time. Secretary Vilsack formerly served eight years under President Obama.

In response to today’s confirmation vote Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw made the following statement:

“We congratulate Secretary Tom Vilsack and look forward to working with him once again in this role. Whether serving as USDA Secretary, Iowa’s Governor, or a private citizen, Secretary Vilsack has never forgotten the value biofuels bring to American agriculture and the air we breathe. We are confident that during his tenure at USDA he will continue to be a strong champion for ethanol and biodiesel, working hand in hand with his colleagues in the administration to ensure biofuels are given every opportunity to help reduce this country’s carbon footprint and dependence on fossil fuels.”

NCGA Congratulates Tom Vilsack on Senate Confirmation to Lead USDA

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) today congratulated Tom Vilsack on his Senate confirmation to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). NCGA President John Linder made the following statement.

“NCGA congratulates Secretary Vilsack on his confirmation. Corn growers appreciated his comments in support of biofuels, along with the positive role he sees agriculture playing in addressing climate change, during his confirmation hearing. Secretary Vilsack has consistently shown a willingness to listen to corn growers, to understand the issues they face on their farms, and we’ve welcomed his outreach to agriculture. Corn growers are looking forward to working together to build long-term demand for our product, mitigate the impact of climate change, seek new markets around the globe, and continue to feed and fuel the world.”

Congratulations from Soy & Welcome Back, Secretary Vilsack!

The American Soybean Association (ASA) congratulates Tom Vilsack as he returns as head of the United States Department of Agriculture. Secretary Vilsack gained choice experience in the same role as part of President Obama’s administration and was known as a staunch supporter for renewable fuel initiatives, biotechnology advances, fair trade agreements and preserving the farm safety net.

Kevin Scott, ASA president and soybean grower from Valley Springs, South Dakota, said, “We appreciate that Secretary Vilsack always supported farmers and understood that they are a driving force for the rural economy. We are confident that he will continue to support producers and appreciate his ongoing commitment to seeking farmer input.”

Secretary Vilsack is from a large soybean-producing state and has vast agriculture knowledge, including that gained during his terms as Iowa governor and more recently, running a large agricultural organization. He has a history of advocating for biodiesel and biotechnology, with conservation being another priority. Vilsack has expressed his beliefs that climate can provide market opportunities for farmers and must be designed to ensure that the principal beneficiaries are farmers.

ASA looks forward to working with him on these priorities and other issues important to soy and agriculture.

Wheat Organizations Welcome Tom Vilsack Back to USDA

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) are pleased with the bipartisan U.S. Senate vote today approving the appointment of former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to that important post again under the Biden-Harris Administration.

“We welcome Secretary Vilsack’s return to USDA in a year that is projected to see record U.S. agricultural exports,” said USW President Vince Peterson, who currently serves on the USDA Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee for Trade. “We look forward to working with him again to continue building on the successful export market development partnership between U.S. wheat farmers and USDA.”

“NAWG applauds the Senate for its timely consideration and strong bipartisan support for confirming Secretary Vilsack to lead the USDA once again,” said NAWG CEO Chandler Goule. “Like many farmers across the country, wheat growers are facing economic challenges, and we are pleased to see the Senate and President work to fill these leadership positions at the USDA with qualified candidates, so we can continue to work on policy that benefits rural America. Secretary Vilsack is uniquely qualified to head up the USDA, having served there previously, and has an exceptional understanding of agricultural and rural issues. We look forward to working with him and continuing to build our relationship with the USDA.”

Farm Bureau Congratulates Tom Vilsack on Confirmation

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented today on the confirmation of Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture.

“AFBF congratulates Tom Vilsack on his confirmation as the next Secretary of Agriculture. His strong track record of leadership and previous experience at USDA will serve rural America well.

“Secretary Vilsack and I have spoken several times in recent weeks about opportunities and challenges facing America’s farmers and ranchers, and I look forward to close collaboration. We have a lot of work to do as we overcome obstacles created by the COVID-19 pandemic. We must commit to resuming CARES Act programs and continue to build on advances made in trade. We must move forward on the successes made in climate-smart practices while seeking partnerships to ensure new environmental policies remain market-based and voluntary. We also recognize the importance of strengthening the farm bill and bringing broadband to every community in America.

“We stand ready to work with Secretary Vilsack and USDA on issues that benefit this nation’s farmers and ranchers – his success means rural America’s success.”

NMPF Statement on the Confirmation of Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture

National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern

“All of U.S. agriculture has an effective advocate in Tom Vilsack, and the nation will be well-served by his return to public service leading the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We in the dairy community who have had the opportunity to work with him have seen first-hand his deep passion for rural America and his commitment to advancing agriculture and the communities it serves, from farmers and food-sector workers to the consumers and businesses that depend on USDA to meet their needs every day, in every way. That’s especially important in light of today’s pressing challenges, which include a farm economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic; climate change, sustainability and the environment; nutrition and food insecurity; international trade policies that limit U.S. exports; labor shortages that are worsening with time; and the legacies of societal injustice that need to be addressed.

“Tom Vilsack’s experience and leadership will be crucial to meeting these challenges, and more. We congratulate him on his confirmation and pledge to do our best to contribute to his successful service.”

NCBA Delivers State of the Industry Address During Virtual Winter Reboot

Today, during the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) virtual Winter Reboot conference, NCBA CEO Colin Woodall and NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane discussed the state of the industry and priority issues in Washington, D.C. that could affect cattlemen and women.

Woodall and Lane discussed the availability of USDA programs to assist farmers and ranchers from the damage done by the frigid temperatures that were seen across the country last week, the impact COVID-19 has had on cattle markets, and the work NCBA has done to provide opportunities for increased profitability while ensuring a steady food supply chain.

They also shared the many wins that the NCBA policy team has had including, working to ensure the beef industry is eligible for pandemic relief programs including USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), two programs that farmers and ranchers across the country utilized during the market disruptions caused by COVID-19.

They went on to discuss the outlook for the Biden administration and the 117th Congress. When talking about the priorities of the Biden administration, Lane shared that NCBA has a robust relationship with senior level leadership across various agencies and that those individuals are willing to listen to NCBA’s perspective.

“They really want to start these conversations at the ground level. They are making it clear that we have a seat at the table,” he said. “We can find some common ground and help them see the benefit of some of the things that have been propagated over the past couple years.”

When referencing the work that NCBA is doing to ensure the beef industry’s success Woodall said, “What we’re doing is what we do best and that is being the most effective advocate for cattlemen and women in Washington, D.C.”

The Virtual Winter Reboot, sponsored by Corteva Agriscience, is a two-day event that gives members the opportunity to hear an update on the work NCBA has been doing in D.C., participate in educational sessions with industry leaders, and interact virtually with other members.

Dairy-Based Sports Drink Launches with Industry Support

A Chicago-based start-up has launched GoodSport, a sports drink that is 97 percent dairy and aims to compete nationally against leading brands.

This first-of-its-kind natural sports drink made from the goodness of milk and backed by science will be available this month at Amazon.com and www.goodsport.com. Broader retail distribution is planned for later this year. The product launched with support from the dairy checkoff and other industry groups.

GoodSport Nutrition Founder & CEO Michelle McBride conceived the concept after being frustrated with the sports drink category options.

"I didn't want my son drinking sports drinks filled with artificial ingredients that were being offered to him at his baseball games," she said. "I gave him chocolate milk as a healthier alternative after his workouts and it provided the inspiration to look at milk as a source of hydration during physical activity."

Milk is a natural source of the essential electrolytes and carbohydrates needed to provide effective hydration. In fact, scientific studies have shown milk hydrates better than traditional sports drinks and water.

However, milk's consistency and protein content, which slowly digests, were barriers for athletes before and during exercise. GoodSport's patent-pending formula and process cracked the code to provide naturally powerful hydration in a clear and thirst-quenching beverage. It delivers three times the electrolytes and 33 percent less sugar than traditional sports drinks, McBride said. All ingredients are from natural sources and the beverage provides a good source of calcium and an excellent source of B vitamins. It is lactose free and shelf stable.

To bring her idea to life, McBride engaged recognized experts in sports nutrition and from across the dairy industry. Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff, assisted McBride with category insights and provided contacts to accelerate speed to market. State and regional checkoff teams also offered support. Dr. Greg Miller of National Dairy Council serves on the company's scientific advisory council and McBride also participated in the Dairy Farmers of America Co-Lab Accelerator for startups. The 90-day program offers training, growth opportunities and mentorship.

FARM Program Publishes 2020 Year in Review

The National Dairy FARM Program (FARM) has published its 2020 Year in Review. Serving as the annual summary of the achievements and program developments of the FARM Program, the Year in Review showcases successes and challenges during a year of change and uncertainty.

“As the industry shifted with the pandemic, we adapted the program to fit farmer’s and program participant’s needs,” says Emily Yeiser Stepp, vice president for the FARM Program at the National Milk Producers Federation, which administers FARM. “We were still able to provide value, develop helpful resources and provide assurances of on-farm social responsibility for the dairy supply chain despite the rollercoaster of 2020.”

The Year in Review details the resources and tools developed across all program areas to help farmers become more fully engaged with the program. It also shows how aspects of FARM were brought into a virtual environment. Events like the annual Evaluator Conference, monthly Evaluator Engagement Hours and the program’s Quick Convos series gave FARM staff the ability to connect with stakeholders online as 2020 presented unrivaled challenges.  

The Review also summarizes changes made to the FARM Program Areas in 2020. FARM Animal Care Version 4 went into effect on January 1 with updates supporting closer farmer-veterinarian relationships, requiring continuing education for all employees and adding a new standard for pain management when disbudding animals. FARM also launched Version 2 of the Environmental Stewardship program which includes updated crop emissions factors, a breakdown of greenhouse gas emissions by gas type, a metric on the use of nutrient management plans, and the ability to capture the benefits of solid-liquid separation, and solar and wind energy. Additionally, Version 1 of the Workforce Development evaluation became available and focuses on human resources and safety best practices. It provides assurances to the supply chain and helps farmers identify what will be most useful to implement within their operation and track improvement over time.

Download the 2020 Year in Review here.... https://nationaldairyfarm.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/FARM_YearInReview_2020_FINAL_021821_Web_pages.pdf.  

Beef Is, and Always Will Be Sustainable

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association's (NCBA) President Jerry Bohn, today released the following op-ed for publication:

There is an ongoing conversation in consumer spaces about beef’s contribution to climate change. In many circles, beef is being painted as a villain that can be minimized and/or eliminated to help solve global climate issues. On the ground, as cattle producers, we know this isn’t accurate. In fact, we know it’s an outrageous lie that’s being used to sell consumers a fake meat product they don’t want or need and one that won’t do anything to solve climate problems. The reality is that we know cattle can be a part of the solution. We know that pasture and rangeland, through proper management, can actually reduce the amount of carbon and more than offset the short-lived methane emissions of our cattle.

Climate and environmental stewardship matter to farmers and ranchers, we feel the impacts of our stewardship decisions every day and we are the first, and most affected portion of the population, when it rains too much or too little. We are the first to be impacted when the weather is too hot or too cold and we’ve seen time and again the consequences of a changing environment. Because of this, most of the farmers and ranchers I speak with are committed to protecting the resources we manage and doing our part to make improvements. However, to make real change, Americans and decisionmakers around the world must recognize that cattle farmers and ranchers are part of the solution. Every food has an impact so simply swapping out beef for alternative proteins or lab-manipulated fake meat will never be an effective solution.
The reality is that consumers in the United States and elsewhere are going to continue to consume meat and there is no nation better at raising cattle and beef in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner than we do right here at home. U.S. cattle producers don’t clear forests for pastures, we don’t plow up land that shouldn’t be farmed and we ensure that our animals are cared for through every phase of their life. On our feedlot in Kansas, we make certain that animals have fresh feed and clean water every day. We take pride in management practices that both care for our cattle and produce the best quality beef possible. By ensuring the beef we produce meets consumer demand we’re also helping to reduce food waste when our products reach the consumer.
On our farms and ranches, cattlemen and women are controlling invasive weeds and maintaining the pastures that feed our animals. Our farms and ranches provide open spaces that create habitat for wild animals that would otherwise be pushed out by housing developments and urbanization. We do these things because it makes our operations better but also because it is the right, sustainable thing to do. Our families depend on our lands year-after-year, generation-after-generation.
If consumers choose alternative proteins rather than beef, they should know the facts about those products and not just the sensationalized marketing that some activists are using to sell a product that has historically been ignored by consumers. In the past, consumers have largely rejected these products as a highly processed, expensive and inferior alternative to real beef. There are people who have invested in fake meat companies seeking to profit from legitimate consumer concerns about climate change and the environment.
The science disputes the claims of alternative protein companies. The fact is, even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that U.S. beef production has a minimal footprint when it comes to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Beef production is responsible for only 2 percent of U.S. GHG emissions. Even when the production of animal feed, fuel and electricity necessary for beef production is factored into the equation, it is still responsible for just 3.7 percent of GHG in the United States, according to EPA. In contrast, emissions from electricity generation account for 28 percent of U.S. emissions and transportation accounts for 29 percent of U.S. emissions.
It's likely that you’ve heard individuals like Bill Gates claim that U.S. livestock’s contribution to climate change is immense. However, these claims are flat out wrong. Some activists and others like Gates often cited old claims made in the United Nation’s debunked report titled Livestock’s Long Shadow. They also use global numbers about U.S. cattle production to back their marketing claims and sell their products.
It’s critical that Americans understand that global GHG emissions are skewed higher because they include emissions from nations whose cattle and beef management systems are far less efficient than the those in the United States. Global numbers also include countries like India, which have large bovine populations but where harvest is very low or non-existent because of cultural or religious practices. In global terms, U.S. beef cattle production counts for just .5 percent of global GHG emissions, so even if every American stopped eating beef in favor of fake meat substitutes, there would be virtually no discernable impact on our changing climate.
The U.S. beef production system is among the most productive and efficient in the world and it continues to improve over time. Between 1975 and 2017, beef cattle emissions declined 30 percent. Today, the U.S. produces 18 percent of the world’s beef with just 6 percent of the world’s cattle numbers. This is possible through commitments to animal welfare, better animal nutrition and advancements in genetics. Those statistics are often overlooked or ignored by individuals like Bill Gates, the writers at OZY and others who are working to advance an agenda that drives people away from eating meat using scare tactics and unsound science to advance their cause and line their pockets with grocery money from well-meaning, concerned consumers who have been sold something they don’t want and never needed in the first place.


Hugh Sanburg, 2021 Chair, Cattlemen’s Beef Board and Colorado Cow-Calf Producer

With the holidays now far behind us, few people are giving thought to the cozy evening they likely spent watching “It’s a Wonderful Life." For those unfamiliar with the 1946 classic film, the main character’s guardian angel reveals what the world would be like without him.

Fast-forward to 2021 and the current chatter surrounding the Beef Checkoff. Certain interest groups have launched a full-court press to – in their own words – call for “an up or down vote on the termination” of the 35-year-old program.

But what would the cattle industry look like without the Beef Checkoff, whose entire mission is beef promotion, research and education? During this lingering pandemic, how much worse might things be without Checkoff-funded efforts driving consumer demand for beef? Could average, family-run operations purchase advertising as effective as “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.”? Could they sponsor sustainability or nutrition research to inform consumers about the positive attributes of beef? Could they operate in foreign markets to sell more American beef overseas?

And it’s not just national programming that would vanish with the dissolution of the Checkoff. In 2020, 44 states received Checkoff revenue for local-level beef programming. Of those 44, only 15 currently have their own state Checkoff assessment to keep their work afloat. Stated plainly, if the national Checkoff went away, most state beef councils would have very limited resources for funding their own local beef initiatives.

In the field of physics, there’s a saying: “Nature abhors a vacuum”. Those who argue against the Beef Checkoff have not suggested an alternative to address the void its termination would create. In the 1970s and 1980s, it took producers about ten years and two failed referendum votes to create the Beef Checkoff. Even if a replacement program could be crafted and adopted within a similar timeframe (which is uncertain given the external forces working to weaken or end the animal protein markets), what would happen in the intervening decade without funding for strategic and coordinated promotion, research and education about beef? There’s little doubt that other proteins would step in to fill the void. If the Checkoff were not out there promoting beef, who would?

It’s important to remember that the producer-run Beef Checkoff does not and cannot control the markets. What it can do is support producers in a lot of positive ways – and it does. For example, Checkoff contractors’ efforts have helped increase beef’s protein market share by 4 percentage points since March 2020 (Source: IRI data analytics and market research). The Cattlemen’s Beef Board’s 2020 Annual Report has just been released and articulates the many creative ways producers’ Checkoff dollars have been hard at work. You can read the report in its entirety at BeefBoard.org, then decide for yourself whether life would truly be better without the Beef Checkoff.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Monday February 22 Ag News


For the week ending February 21, 2021, topsoil moisture supplies rated 14% very short, 32% short, 51% adequate, and 3% surplus, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 20% very short, 42% short, 37% adequate, and 1% surplus.

Field Crops Report:
Winter wheat condition rated 9% very poor, 13% poor, 44% fair, 33% good, and 1% excellent.

The next report was will be issued March 29, 2021.

Webinar to focus on farm program, crop insurance decisions for 2021

A Nebraska Extension webinar on March 1 at noon will present updates on farm programs, crop insurance and marketing to assist producers who are facing decisions in these areas for the 2021 crop production year.

The presentation will include discussion of newly finalized crop insurance price information, marketing strategies and factors that may impact ARC and PLC programs in the coming year. It will also explain the new Enhanced Coverage Option (ECO) that offers additional area-based coverage for a portion of an underlying crop insurance policy deductible.

Presenters from Nebraska Extension will include Brad Lubben, a policy specialist; Cory Walters, a grain marketing specialist; and Jessica Groskopf, the agricultural economist for the panhandle region.

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

Registration is free at farm.unl.edu/webinars.

2021 Nebraska Dairy Convention Set for Thursday, March 18

On March 18th, 2021 the dairy industry will gather at the Ramada by Wyndham Columbus Hotel & Conference Center in Columbus, Nebraska to partake in the 2021 Nebraska Dairy Convention. The convention will open with a trade show starting at 9:30am and run until 6:15pm.
Throughout the day attendees will have the opportunity to learn from industry experts on various topics to include; transition and estate planning, Midwest Dairy checkoff update, NSDA annual meeting, dairy nutrition update and a dairy girl network event. Also happening during the Event will be an ice cream bar, wine and cheese reception, banquet, and awards ceremony. To cap off the night attendees will hear from US Dairy Export Council CEO, Krysta Hardin.
Kris Bousquet invites all remarking “If you are involved in the dairy industry, this event is a must. The networking opportunity farmers and businesspeople experience here is unmatched. We encourage all sectors of dairy to come learn and grow with us.”
To register visit www.nebraskamilk.org.

Ricketts Warns Against Federal Overreach on Energy, Climate, & Conservation Issues

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement regarding Executive Order 14008, also know as the “Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.”  It was signed by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on January 27, 2021.

“Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers are our state’s original conservationists.  They work day in and day out to cultivate the land and manage water they’ve known for generations in a way that helps grow our state.  With a new administration taking office, Nebraskans should be on the lookout in their communities for attempts by federal agencies and their partners to regulate land and water use.  We are already seeing big changes in how the federal government is approaching energy, climate, and conservation issues.”

“From canceling the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline to rejoining the Paris Agreement, the Biden Administration has taken a number of actions that harm our national security, energy independence, and working American families.  I am especially troubled by President Biden’s recent executive order on climate.  The executive order blocks significant amounts of oil and gas development and outlines far-reaching plans to lock away staggering portions of our nation’s land and natural resources.”

“In particular, I want to draw the attention of Nebraskans to the executive order’s goal of restricting ‘at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.’  Federal interventions that purport to aim at conservation or that regulate land and natural resource uses are only likely to hurt agriculture and to hinder growth in our economy.  Nebraska will stand up against federal government overreach to protect our family farms and our way of life.  Just as we defeated President Obama’s Waters of the U.S. regulation, we will work together to stop new federal overreach.”

In response to President Biden’s recent Executive Order, Governor Ricketts has signed a letter along with 16 other Governors.

Drought Planning for the Grazing Season

– Jerry Volesky, NE Extension Pasture & Range Specialist

The start of the growing season is just a couple of months away and last year’s drought conditions across much of Nebraska should inspire us to complete grazing and forage plans for the upcoming year.
Within these plans, options for a possible drought are essential.  A drought plan can have varying levels of detail and complexity and can be customized to fit the specific needs of your operation.  Key considerations should include projected cattle numbers (or stocking rates), turnout dates, the possibility of an extended period of hay feeding, the level of utilization on pastures last year, possible culling and weaning strategies, and a pasture use sequence for multiple pasture rotations.  In addition, some farmer and ranchers have the opportunity to use planted annual forages to increase grazing capacity or to provide extra hay. Sourcing seed for this possibility should begin soon.
Some plans place an emphasis on critical or trigger dates.  These are dates where one evaluates their total local precipitation up to that date.  On May 1, for example, one could determine their total spring precipitation and compare that to long-term averages for their area.  If precipitation totals are significantly below the averages, that could trigger a choice of several possible management actions such as an extended period of feeding hay or culling of some livestock.  These actions are adjusted to account for varying levels of drought.  Other important dates in relation to critical periods for rapid grass growth might include May 15, June 1, June 15, and July 1.
While we always hope for the perfect amount of rain for the growing season, being prepared for droughty conditions can reduce the impact.

Cryptosporidiosis: A Potential Source of Illness in Calves and People Alike

Russ Daly – South Dakota State University Extension Veterinarian
Cryptosporidiosis is a pertinent example of a disease with zoonotic potential: one that can be passed from animals to people. Symptoms of “crypto” in people include the miserable experiences of diarrhea, stomach cramping, nausea, and vomiting. In some cases, affected people require hospitalization for treatment of their dehydration.

The protozoa that cause cryptosporidiosis can be divided into two main categories: human-only Cryptosporidia species and animal-related Cryptosporidia species. People can be affected by both. Human-only forms are often associated with summertime swimming pool and water park outbreaks.

In Animals

Animal-related Cryptosporidia are very common in manure from calves, healthy or sick. Calves affected by cryptosporidiosis have diarrhea ranging from pudding-like to watery. The resulting fluid and electrolyte losses can be fatal, especially when other scours-causing bacteria and viruses are involved.
Calves are first exposed to Cryptosporidia right after birth, with higher exposures in dirty, manure-filled environments compared to clean pens or pastures. It takes about a week for the germs to disrupt the calf’s gut sufficiently to create observable illness. Illness due to Cryptosporidium is age-dependent, almost exclusively affecting calves between a week and month of age. Older calves are more resistant to illness but can still pass the germ in their manure. Unfortunately, there are no effective treatments or vaccines for cryptosporidiosis in calves.

In Humans

Between 100 and 200 human crypto cases are reported in South Dakotans in an average year. This is very likely an undercount since many affected people do not seek medical treatment. In reported cases, the causative Cryptosporidia species is usually not categorized between human-only or animal-related strains.

Work at SDSU with the South Dakota Department of Health in 2012 revealed that almost 90% of South Dakotans diagnosed with cryptosporidiosis had exposure to animals, with about half of all patients living or working on a farm. Most reports of human Cryptosporidiosis involve only one person, but larger Cryptosporidiosis outbreaks occur. These have occurred in groups of people working with clinically ill calves and in petting zoo environments where young calves were present.

Preventative Measures

Since all young calves should be considered sources of Cryptosporidia regardless of their health status, people directly working with them should protect themselves. Manure is the main source of these germs, but they will also contaminate bedding, haircoats, and saliva. Creating barriers between contaminated materials and our mouths is of particular importance. These efforts should include use of disposable gloves and hand washing immediately after working with calves (hand sanitizers are ineffective at inactivating Cryptosporidia). Face masks will help prevent splashes of unwanted materials into the mouth. Boots and coveralls should be worn and properly managed, so they do not move manure and other contamination into the farmhouse or other areas of the farm.

Human Cryptosporidia infections do occur despite the use of such preventive measures. This illustrates the low infectious dose of Cryptosporidia for people. While 100 to 200 Cryptosporidia germs are sufficient to cause illness in a person, millions of organisms per gram of feces can be shed by a clinically affected calf. Cryptosporidia are very hardy in the environment and won’t be killed by most disinfectants.

While any young calf is a potential source of Cryptosporidia, those clinically sick with diarrhea are the most problematic. This highlights the importance of calf health -- providing clean calving and housing environments. While many calf outbreaks occur in young dairy-breed calves grouped together, transported, and otherwise stressed, beef calves exposed to overwhelming exposures in calving areas are also at increased risk.

Dairy and beef producers should work with a veterinarian to determine the extent to which Cryptosporidia are involved in calf illnesses and take general steps to limit exposure. Along with that, they should also consider the potential for Cryptosporidiosis to affect them, their fellow workers, and family members.

Explore Opportunities for Livestock with Silvopasture Management

Silvopasture management is the topic of the Iowa Learning Farms webinar on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Silvopasture is an agroforestry practice that involves intentionally managing livestock, trees and forage in the same productive space. There are several strategies to implementing silvopasture, and the wide variety of strategies depends on the space, animals and trees being managed. During this webinar, Ashley Conway, assistant research professor at the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry, will provide a brief introduction to silvopasture management.

“Despite being a very old practice, silvopasture is gaining mainstream momentum as a way to raise livestock that enhances economic and environmental resiliency,” said Conway. She hopes webinar participants will gain a strong understanding of what silvopasture is, and also what does not constitute a silvopasture system.

Conway is working to develop a research program investigating the logistical, economic, environmental and social dynamics of silvopasture systems in Missouri and the Midwest through the lens of efficient and responsible animal production.
Webinar Access Instructions

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before 12 p.m. CST on Feb. 24:
    Click this URL, or type this web address into your internet browser: https://iastate.zoom.us/j/364284172. Or, go to https://iastate.zoom.us/join and enter meeting ID 364-284-172.
    Or, join from a dial-in phone line by dialing +1-312-626-6799 or +1-646-876-9923, meeting ID 364-284-172.

The webinar will also be recorded and archived on the ILF website, so that it can be watched at any time. Archived webinars are available at https://www.iowalearningfarms.org/page/webinars.

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

After Careful Consideration, EPA Supports Tenth Circuit’s Renewable Fuels Association Decision

EPA is today announcing that, after careful consideration of the 2020 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Renewable Fuels Association et al. v. EPA, 948 F.3d 1206 (“Decision”), EPA supports that court’s interpretation of the renewable fuel standard (RFS) small-refinery provisions. This conclusion, prompted by a detailed review following the Supreme Court’s grant of certiorari in the case, represents a change from EPA’s position before the Tenth Circuit. The change reflects the Agency’s considered assessment that the Tenth Circuit’s reasoning better reflects the statutory text and structure, as well as Congress’s intent in establishing the RFS program.
RFS Program Background

Congress created the RFS program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand the nation’s renewable fuels sector while reducing reliance on imported oil. This program was authorized under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expanded under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. In enacting the RFS program, Congress recognized the need to allow small refineries (those with aggregate crude oil throughput less than or equal to 75,000 barrels per day) to transition into the program. Small refineries were exempted from the RFS program in its earliest years, 2006-2010, after which a small refinery could petition EPA for and receive an extension of its exemption if it could demonstrate the refinery would suffer “disproportionate economic hardship” as a result of complying with its RFS obligations. See CAA section 211(o)(9).
Surge in Small-Refinery Petitions Granted in Past Four Years

In calendar year 2017 (largely for the 2016 RFS compliance year), EPA began granting a large number of petitions for extensions of Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs). By 2018, the number of SREs issued for the 2017 compliance year was more than quadruple the number issued for the 2015 compliance year. For example, for the 2015 compliance year, only 290 million renewable identification numbers (RINs) were not retired due to SRE petitions granted, yet for the 2017 compliance year, that number grew to 1.82 billion non-retired RINs. The large increase in SRE petitions granted and associated unretired RINs represents a significant decline in the required use of renewable fuel volumes, which in turn decreased the incentives for the production and use of renewable fuels.
Tenth Circuit’s Decision

In January 2020, the Tenth Circuit vacated and remanded three EPA decisions granting SRE petitions for the 2016 and 2017 RFS compliance years which were issued in calendar years 2017 and 2018, holding that a small refinery’s petition can be granted only if the refinery satisfies two conditions:
    Demonstrate an existing exemption: Emphasizing the dictionary definitions of the word “extension” as “an increase,” the court held that EPA could not extend or increase a small refinery’s exemption unless the exemption was “in existence.” In the court’s view, “a small refinery which did not seek or receive an extension in prior years is ineligible for an extension, because at that point there is nothing to prolong, enlarge, or add to.” The court also described CAA section 211(o)(9)(b)(i) as “funnel[ing] small refineries towards compliance over time.”

    Demonstrate disproportionate economic hardship caused by RFS compliance: The court held that any alleged hardship justifying the grant of an SRE petition must be “caused by” RFS compliance. The court also held that EPA had acted arbitrarily and capriciously by deviating, without acknowledgment or a stated reason, from its prior position that refineries generally do not incur disproportionate economic hardship from purchasing RINs on the open market because the refineries “pass through most or all of their RIN purchase costs” to their customers.
Supreme Court Case and EPA’s Position

On January 8, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the small refineries’ petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Court to review the Tenth Circuit’s holding regarding the SRE eligibility of small refineries that lack an existing exemption. HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC, et al. v. Renewable Fuels Assn., et al., United States Supreme Court, Case No. 20-472.
After further, careful review of the RFA Decision following the change of Administration, EPA has reevaluated the statutory text and now agrees with the Tenth Circuit’s reading of CAA section 211(o)(9)(B)(i) that an exemption must exist for EPA to be able to “extend” it. EPA agrees with the court that the exemption was intended to operate as a temporary measure and, consistent with that Congressional purpose, the plain meaning of the word “extension” refers to continuing the status of an exemption that is already in existence.
For background on EPA’s RFS Program, see https://www.epa.gov/renewable-fuel-standard-program/news-notices-and-announcements-renewable-fuel-standard.  

Ricketts Applauds EPA Decision to Follow Court Ruling on Ethanol Blending

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement following news that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would follow a recent Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on small refinery exemptions from ethanol blending requirements.

“Today’s announcement by the EPA is good news for Nebraska’s farm families and our 25 ethanol plants,” said Governor Ricketts.  “We are the second largest producer of ethanol, and Nebraskans want to see a robust Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  We appreciate the EPA’s commitment to following the court’s decision, which will help ensure the agency is following the law and maintaining a robust RFS.”

 Fischer Applauds EPA Decision to Protect Biofuels

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement today after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its support of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit’s ruling in Renewable Fuels Association et al. v. EPA.

“The Biden administration’s EPA listened to our warnings and reversed course in their interpretation of the Small Refinery Exemption process. This is a critical win for Nebraska’s economy. I will continue to push the EPA to ensure it is upholding the intent of the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

IRFA Praises EPA Decision to Enforce 10th Circuit Court Decision on RFS Exemptions

Today the EPA announced that it has decided it agrees with the logic laid out in the decision from the 10th Circuit Court decision from January of 2020 regarding Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) exemptions. In particular, EPA agrees that the exemptions need to be an extension of an exemption a refinery has always maintained and only if that refinery can continue to demonstration disproportionate economic harm.

In response to support for this decision, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw made the following statement:

“We are excited and pleased to hear EPA finally embrace the common-sense 10th Circuit Court decision on RFS exemptions. The RFS exemption program was always intended to be a tool to provide temporary relief to truly small refineries and it has been abused for far too long. Hopefully this signals an end to the dark days of undermining the RFS through illegal exemptions and waivers, and we can look forward to the law being applied in a way that actually grows demand for ethanol and biodiesel blends as was always intended.”

Growth Energy Applauds EPA’s Decision to Stand with 10th Circuit’s Ruling on SREs

Growth Energy welcomed news that, despite the Trump administration’s previous view of the 10th Circuit’s interpretation of small refinery exemption (SRE) eligibility under the RFS, the current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not file a brief supporting that position by the Supreme Court’s deadline in HollyFrontier today. In response, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement:

“We are pleased to see the Biden EPA signal support for the 10th Circuit’s ruling and repudiate the prior administration EPA’s misguided attempt to distort the plain language of the RFS to serve oil industry interests at the expense of America’s biofuel producers and farmers.”

HollyFrontier v. Renewable Fuels Association (Case No. 20-472) is challenging the Tenth Circuit decision (Renewable Rules Association v. EPA, Case No. 18-9533). In January 2020, the lower court rightly found that the plain language of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) required refineries to have been granted small refinery exemptions (SREs) in all prior years as a condition of eligibility for any additional SREs.

Farm, Biofuel Leaders Embrace EPA’s New Position on Tenth Circuit’s Small Refinery Waiver Decision

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it is supporting the Tenth Circuit Court’s January 2020 decision in Renewable Fuels Association et al. v. EPA. After careful review of the decision, EPA’s new leadership agrees with both the court and the biofuel litigants that small refinery exemptions were meant to be temporary and that only pre-existing exemptions may be “extended” by the agency.

EPA states that it “agrees with the court that the exemption was intended to operate as a temporary measure and, consistent with that Congressional purpose, the plain meaning of the word ‘extension’ refers to continuing the status of an exemption that is already in existence.”

The four petitioners in the case—the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, American Coalition for Ethanol and National Farmers Union—released the following statement:

“Our nation’s biofuel producers and farmers appreciate EPA’s careful review of the Tenth Circuit Court’s decision, and we are pleased the agency’s new leadership is reversing the previous administration’s flawed position on small refinery exemptions. This announcement marks a major step forward by the Biden administration to restore the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard and honor the intent of Congress. We wholeheartedly agree with EPA’s conclusion that the small refinery exemption was intended to be a temporary measure and we are pleased to see the agency confirming that only previously existing exemptions may be extended.”

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a request from two refiners to review the Tenth Circuit case, even though EPA did not ask the high court to examine the ruling. Arguments before the Supreme Court are expected in the spring.

Commodity Classic Farmer-Leaders Excited About Digital Edition of 2021 Event

Commodity Classic’s pivot from a live show—originally scheduled to take place in San Antonio— to a digital online format has created some unique opportunities, according to the two farmers who are co-chairing the 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic.

The 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic features more than 50 educational sessions that will be delivered digitally direct to farmers across the nation and around the world March 2-5, 2021.   Registration is open at CommodityClassic.com and the first 5,000 farmers to register can do so at no charge.

Anthony Bush, an Ohio corn farmer and co-chair of the 2021 Commodity Classic, said this year’s digital event provides a platform for the event to bring together top agribusiness executives for a series of live, first-ever Executive Roundtables. “We will hear from CEOs from various stakeholders in our industry. I'm not sure what other venue would exist that we would be able to do this. I think that's going to be pretty exciting to get their perspective on what's going on in our industry right now.”

Brad Doyle, an Arkansas soybean farmer and co-chair of the 2021 Commodity Classic, noted that Commodity Classic is created by farmers, for farmers.“  It separates us from just a media-based platform or an industry-based platform because Commodity Classic is farmer-led and farmer-focused. The message is just more sincere and more honest that we, as farmers, get to choose the program, what's in the program, who our speakers are, what content we have.”

Doyle added that, each year, the farmer committee develops the entire Commodity Classic agenda, including the selection of the educational sessions. “We want this information, too.  We want to hear from the speakers. We look at it that way—create a program that will help our fellow farmers.  That's the great thing about this show.”

Bush said that in a year of incredible challenge, the education at Commodity Classic is more valuable than ever before. “There is so much going on right now in agriculture, just like any other year; but this year the marketing trends can make you or break you right now,” he said.  “It's the same way with the equipment purchases and decisions.  The people you will be available to connect with at Commodity Classic will be incredibly valuable.  I'm really looking forward to it.”

Premier Sponsors of the 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic are AGCO, Bayer, Case IH, Corteva Agriscience, John Deere and United Soybean Board/Soy Checkoff.

Champion Sponsors are BASF and Syngenta.  Key Sponsors are Great Plains Manufacturing, Inc., Kubota, New Holland, Pioneer, Precision Planting and Valent U.S.A.

Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is presented annually by the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

Federal Maritime Commission demands information from carriers

The Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance applauds the Federal Maritime Commission’s decision last week to issue an information demand to ocean carriers and marine terminal operators to answer questions on detention and demurrage practices, as well as policies and practices related to container returns and container availability to exporters.

In a statement issued Feb. 17, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) announced that Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye issued the order to determine if “ocean carriers operating in an alliance and calling the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach and the Port of New York & New Jersey” are meeting their legal obligations, along with marine terminal operators (MTOs) at those ports.

According to the FMC press release:
The orders are being issued under the authority Commissioner Dye has as the Fact Finding Officer for Fact Finding 29, “International Ocean Transportation Supply Chain Engagement.”  …

Failure of carriers and MTOs to operate in a way consistent with the Interpretive Rule on Detention and Demurrage that became effective on May 18, 2020, might constitute a violation of 46 USC 41102(c) which prohibits unjust and unreasonable practices and regulations related to, or connected with, receiving, handling, storing, or delivering property.

Information received from parties receiving demands may be used as a basis for hearings, Commission enforcement action or further rulemaking.

In October, SSGA was among the first national agricultural associations to shine a light on the disruption of the food supply chain and other critical problems facing containerized ag exports after members had been informed that some ocean carriers were suspending containerized and other overseas ag shipments in order to keep up with import demand of goods from Asia.

"In their haste to meet increased demands for foreign imports to the United States, the ocean carriers have left U.S. ag exporters behind while clogging the ports and disrupting the supply chain throughout the system, including rail and trucking," said Eric Wenberg, SSGA executive director. "That's why the Federal Maritime Commission needed to step in. But more needs to be done.

“Now, ocean carriers and marine terminal operators must cooperate with the FMC, and the hope is this can be resolved quickly so our members’ products and ingredients can get to the foreign food manufacturers who have been patiently waiting for them.”

On Feb. 9, SSGA representatives had the opportunity to give testimony to the FMC, along with a large contingent of national ag organizations, including the National Grain and Feed Association and the Agriculture Transportation Coalition.

For more on the container shipping crisis, see the latest IP-ODCAST, in which SSGA Secretary/Treasurer and Competitive Shipping Action Team Chair Darwin Rader spoke about the ongoing situation.

The Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance (SSGA) is the premier business alliance of U.S. companies focused on production, processing and shipping of specialty soya and grains worldwide. Its mission is to provide resources that communicate the quality, diversity, and availability of IP soya and specialty grain products.

Deere Reports First-Quarter Net Income of $1.224 Billion

Deere & Company reported net income of $1.224 billion for the first quarter ended January 31, 2021, or $3.87 per share, compared with net income of $517 million, or $1.63 per share, for the quarter ended February 2, 2020. Worldwide net sales and revenues increased 19 percent in the first quarter of 2021 to $9.112 billion. Equipment operations net sales were $8.051 billion for the quarter, compared with $6.530 billion in 2020.

"John Deere started 2021 on a strongly positive note," said John C. May, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our results were aided by outstanding performance across our business lineup and improving conditions in the farm and construction sectors. In addition, our smart industrial operating strategy is making a significant impact on the company's results while it also helps our customers be more profitable and sustainable."

Company Outlook & Summary

Net income attributable to Deere & Company for fiscal 2021 is forecast to be in a range of $4.6 billion to $5.0 billion.

"We are proud of our success executing the strategy and creating a more focused organization that can operate with greater speed and agility," May said. "As our recent performance shows, these steps are leading to improved efficiencies and helping the company target its resources and investments on areas that have the greatest impact. At the same time, even as we ramp up factory production and intensify our efforts to serve customers, we are mindful of the continuing challenges associated with the global pandemic. We remain committed, above all else, to safeguarding the health and well-being of our employees."

AGCO to Temporarily Close Kansas Hesston Plant

AGCO has slowed operations at its facility in Hesston, Kansas, due to rising natural gas prices in the area. It was reported that the plant currently employs around 1,000 workers.  

AGCO announced the shutdown in relation to a potential $2.1 million gas bill.  "Something has to be done about the price gouging and what's going on with (natural) gas prices. It's going to affect all of us," said union president Glen Davis, noting that floor employees will be missing out on average of $200 per day.

When asked about the shutdown, a spokesperson for AGCO said like many businesses and residents in the Kansas area, AGCO's Hesston plant is experiencing fuel and heating costs that have skyrocketed in recent weeks.

CNH Industrial Reman Extends Warranty Coverage to Industry Leading 24-months Parts and Labor

CNH Industrial Reman is excited to announce its industry-leading replacement parts warranty has been extended to 24-months parts when dealer-installed. The newly extended, two-year warranty has dealers and customers covered from day-one on remanufactured parts for Case IH, Case Construction, New Holland Agriculture and New Holland Construction equipment.

“Unlike competitors, rebuilds or after-market replacement parts, CNH Reman parts are backed by an industry leading warranty that provides peace of mind from day one” said Presley Parish, marketing and communications manager at CNH Industrial Reman. “The new extended warranty coverage protects dealers and end-users from warranty liability associated with point of failure repairs.”

The CNH Industrial Reman replacement parts warranty exceeds OEM and replacement part warranties and is backed by CNH Industrial Parts & Service.

Parts covered under the extended 24-month warranty include: long block, short block and replacement engines; fuel injection pumps; fuel injectors; turbocharger; axles; clutches; torque converters; manual, power shift and power shuttle transmissions; rotor drives; torque amplifiers; wobble boxes; alternators; controllers; ECUs; generators; starters; hydraulic cylinders, motors and pumps; AC compressors; ATS and wheels.

Cylinder heads, connecting rods, camshafts, crankshafts, oil coolers and all other reman products are covered under a 12-month warranty on parts when dealer installed.

If a customer chooses to install the Reman part themselves or use options other than an approved CNH dealer location, CNH Reman parts are backed by industry leading 12-month warranty protection.

For Reman Repair & Return Programs, the new warranty includes 12-months of parts coverage for wiring harnesses and 18-months of parts coverage for electrical components.

CNH Industrial Reman is committed to providing the best remanufactured product on the market, leading to increased reliability and lower cost of ownership. This value is reflected not only in the extended warranty, but in every aspect of the continued development of parts and leading-edge processes. CNH Industrial Reman stands behind the products they provide to give dealers and customers peace of mind.

Solectrac launches reservation program for its all-electric tractors

As demand has grown quickly for Solectrac's first to market all-electric tractors, the company announced its new reservation campaign. With a $1000 deposit, reduced from fifty percent of the total cost, customers can now reserve their place in the productions line. "We've decided to decrease the initial deposit to allow customers to express their interest and intent. This is good for our customers and good for our production line," said Steve Heckeroth, CEO/Founder.

Solectrac Inc., North America's first manufacturer and distributor of quiet, zero emission electric tractors came to the attention of the marketplace last year with their very successful crowdfunding campaign, followed by double investments from Ideanomics. Solectrac has since grown their manufacturing capabilities to ramp up production and meet demand while pursuing their long-term goal to reduce carbon output in farming and utility work.

Solectrac is taking reservations for its 40 HP-equivalent eUtility tractor and the 4-wheel drive 30 HP-equivalent compact electric tractor (CET). Both tractors are built to outperform their diesel counterparts by eliminating exhaust and noise and with the benefit of instant torque at low RPM.  Solectrac tractors accommodate existing implements and are perfectly suited for farm and utility operations, as well as in livestock and equestrian environments where noise is an important consideration. Additionally, the low noise level and absence of exhaust makes electric tractors desirable in any environment by improving workers' health and safety.

Solectrac's electric tractors can be charged either from the utility grid or from renewable energy, like solar and wind. Electricity is cheaper than diesel fuel and Solectrac tractors only have one moving part in the motor. Consequently, maintenance and fuel cost over the lifetime of the electric tractor is estimated to be one-third that of a diesel tractor. Using solar or wind energy in the charging infrastructure completely eliminates fossil fuel inputs thereby reducing the users' carbon footprint and helping meet climate goals.

In 2019 Solectrac became a California Benefit Corporation and a Certified B Corp "to use business as a force for good." The company is also the recipient of the World Alliance's Solar Impulse Efficient Solutions label. Through the World Alliance the Solar Impulse Foundation is selecting 1,000 of the most efficient and profitable solutions that can transition society to being economically viable while being environmentally sustainable.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Friday February 19 Cattle on Feed + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.61 million cattle on feed on February 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 5% from last year.  Placements during January totaled 530,000 head, up 4% from 2020. Fed cattle marketings for the month of January totaled 460,000 head, down 4% from last year. Other disappearance during January totaled 10,000 head, unchanged from last year.

Iowa Cattle on Feed Report

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 620,000 head on February 1, 2021, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was up 2% from January, but down 7% from last year. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 565,000 head on feed, up 1% from last month but down 12% from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,185,000 head, up 1% from last month but down 10% from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during January totaled 109,000 head, up 17% from December but down 2% from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 60,000 head, down 13% from December and down 32% from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 169,000 head, up 4% from December but down 15% from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during January totaled 97,000 head, up 7% from December but down 10% from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 49,000 head, up 9% from December but down 21% from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 146,000 head, up 7% from December but down 14% from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 8,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 1 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 12.1 million head on February 1, 2021. The inventory was 1 percent above February 1, 2020. This is the second highest February 1 inventory since the series began in 1996.

On Feed, by State (1,000 hd - % of Feb 1 '20)

Colorado .......:           1,120            102             
Iowa .............:             620               93              
Kansas ..........:           2,520            105              
Nebraska ......:           2,610            105                
Texas ............:           2,910             99              

Placements in feedlots during January totaled 2.02 million head, 3 percent above 2020. Net placements were 1.96 million head. During January, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 410,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 440,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 575,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 417,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 105,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 70,000 head.

Placememts by State (1,000 hd - % Jan '20)

Colorado .......:                    195            95             
Iowa .............:                    109            98               
Kansas ..........:                    480           108               
Nebraska ......:                    530           104               
Texas ............:                    405           109               

Marketings of fed cattle during January totaled 1.82 million head, 6 percent below 2020.  Other disappearance totaled 56,000 head during January, 4 percent above 2020.

Marketings by State (1,000 hd - % Jan '20)

Colorado .......:                  180            95                
Iowa .............:                    97            90                 
Kansas ..........:                  450            99                
Nebraska ......:                  460            96                 
Texas ............:                  350            92                 

Cattle on Feed and Annual Size Group Estimates

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head represented 81.4 percent of all cattle and calves on feed in the United States on January 1, 2021. This is comparable to the 81.6 percent on January 1, 2020.

Marketings of fed cattle for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head during 2020 represented 87.1 percent of total cattle marketed from all feedlots in the United States, up slightly from 87.0 percent during 2019.


Nebraska's number of farms and ranches declined during 2020, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The number of farms and ranches in the state, at 45,500, was down 200 farms from 2019. Numbers of farms and ranches in Nebraska with less than $100,000 in agricultural sales decreased 200 farms from a year earlier while operations with agricultural sales of $100,000 or more was unchanged.

Land in farms and ranches in Nebraska totaled 44.9 million acres, unchanged from 2019. The average size of operation, at 987 acres, was up 5 acres from a year earlier.

Iowa Land in Farms

The total number of farms in Iowa in 2020 was 85,000, down 300 farms from 2019, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Farms and Land in Farms 2020 Summary report. Farms in the $10,000-$99,999 sales class decreased by 200, while farms in the $250,000-$499,999 sales class decreased by 100.

Total land in farms for Iowa during 2020 was 30.6 million acres, unchanged since 2010. The average farm size in Iowa in 2020 was 360 acres, up 1 acre from 2019. The average farm size for those in the
$250,000-$499,999 sales class increased 6 acres from 2019.

U.S. Farms and Land in Farms Highlights

The number of farms in the United States for 2020 is estimated at 2,019,000, down 4,400 farms from 2019. The number of farms in all sales classes declined. In 2020, 51.1 percent of all farms had less than $10,000 in sales and 81.5 percent of all farms had less than $100,000 in sales. In 2020, 7.4 percent of all farms had sales of $500,000 or more.  

Total land in farms, at 896,600,000 acres, decreased 800,000 acres from 2019. The biggest change for 2020 is that producers in Sales Class $10,000 - $99,999 operated 550,000 fewer acres than in 2019. In 2020, 30.1 percent of all farmland was operated by farms with less than $100,000 in sales, while 40.8 percent of all farmland was operated by farms with sales of $500,000 or more.

The average farm size for 2020 is 444 acres, unchanged from the previous year. Average farm size increased in the $250,000 - $499,999, $500,000-$999,999, and $1,000,000 or more sales classes and remained unchanged in all others.

Fort Report Column: Fake Meat

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry

Here’s a tweet I wrote this week: “I’ve been in meetings with @BillGates.  I respect his intellect and desire for social responsibility by the world’s wealthy.  On this idea, though, maybe he should come to #Nebraska and learn a little more.  #NoFakeMeat.”    

I was responding to an interview Gates did for the MIT Tech Review in which the Microsoft co-founder opined on climate change: “I do think all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef.  You can get used to the taste difference, and the claim is they’re going to make it taste even better over time.  Eventually, that green premium is modest enough that you can sort of change the [behavior of] people or use regulation to totally shift the demand.”    

I have no beef with Bill about transitioning from a hydrocarbon-based economy to a more sustainable one.  I support many initiatives in Congress that are prudently moving us towards that renewable energy future without economic disruption in the process.  But making supper from a lab?  That's not a solution, that's a chemistry experiment.      

Gates’ push for lab-grown meat is rooted in a belief that if we slowed the production of cow-based methane we’d make a huge dent in global warming.  Though potent, methane is a short-lived “flow gas” that often gets destroyed in the atmosphere within about a decade.  The CO2 generated by the burning of fossil fuels is a “stock gas” that builds up in the atmosphere and can stick around for over 100 years without sequestration.  Per the EPA, livestock contributes less than 3% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.  Switching to meat substitutes will not appreciably affect the climate crisis, though an obsessive focus on the U.S. beef industry as a mythical key contributor to global warming will blind us to its primary contributors, such as large coal-burning countries like China and India.    

Here’s another overlooked fact: the role that real beef plays as a cornerstone of nutrition and rural livelihood.  Nebraska is world-famous for its high-quality beef.  According to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Nebraska is the only state that is a national leader in every aspect of beef production: cow/calf, backgrounding, corn-growing, cattle feeding and processing.  Cattle outnumber people here by more than three to one.  What wine is to France, beef is to Nebraska.    

As the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, I joked on a recent radio program about inviting Mr. Gates to the West Point Livestock Auction, where he can present his lab-based meat proposal to the cattle producers and farmers there.  We’d have a fun, healthy debate.    

In Congress, I co-chair the Congressional Beef Caucus to provide Members of Congress the opportunity to discuss the importance of the U.S. beef and cattle industry.  Nevertheless, I tried a vegan hamburger once.  Not my thing, but I get that it’s a fast-growing market.  In this case, however, you’ve got to follow the desire of vested money interests to conflate environmental protection with their profit-driven efforts to get Americans to eat meat substitutes.    

Cattle numbers have remained relatively flat for several decades.  Couple that with methane’s short atmospheric shelf-life, it seems to me a stretch to single out cattle as a significant contributor to global warming.  Curtailing beef production makes about as much sense as banning all travel by plane.  I bet Bill Gates knows that won’t fly.    

Lab-grown meat, in particular, is not a good cultural fit for Nebraska.  Think about going to Misty’s Steakhouse in Lincoln: “I’ll have the synthetic medium-rare steak with that special A1 C02 sauce, but with a little less red dye this time, thanks.”     

Synthetic meat is, at the end of the day, fake meat.  I had some fun coming up with creative slogans.  How’s this?    
        “Carefully Chemically Crafted”    
        “From Our Lab to Your Table.”    

Madison Avenue doesn’t even have to pay me.    

Part of my responsibility in Congress is to oversee both the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration.  Watch the process closely in Washington, particularly over labeling this product.  After all, it’s about what’s for dinner.  

Succession and estate planning webinars planned for farmers and ranchers

Two upcoming Nebraska Extension webinars will focus on helping farmers and ranchers to establish or improve their succession and estate plans.   

The first part will be presented on Feb. 25, noon—1 p.m., and focus on why farmers and ranchers do not like to plan, the risks of inaction and the importance of family communication. It will be led by Allan Vyhnalek, an extension educator for farm and ranch succession.

Part two will be March 4,  noon—1 p.m., and feature a discussion about specific tools that can be used in estate and succession planning. Vyhnalek will be joined by Brandon Dirkschneider, a certified farm transition specialist with Omaha-based Insurance Design Management.

The webinars will be presented as part of the Agricultural Economics Extension Farm and Ranch Management weekly series.

Registration is free at farm.unl.edu/webinars.

Time is running out to order your conservation trees for spring planting

Trees help soften the harsh climate of the Great Plains, but extreme weather events are leaving areas of Nebraska at-risk of losing their tree canopy and the innumerable benefits trees provide.

According to the Nebraska Forest Service, communities lost an average of 18 percent of their tree canopy in the last two decades due to extreme weather events, diseases, and invasive insects.
“We have a proud history of planting trees in northeast Nebraska, but along with the planting of trees we must continue with annual care and maintenance and continue to renovate the areas that are falling behind,” said Todd Stewart, Natural Resources Technician, for the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD).

Stewart added, “Time is running out to order for this spring.  If you can have your orders submitted by March 8th, you’ll have the best chance of getting the species you’re looking for.  If you’re interested in a windbreak design or assistance with planning your renovation project, give us a call.”

Each year, Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) help communities and landowners plant more than 700,000 trees throughout the state.  Conservation trees benefit both people and animals. They shade and shelter homes, reduce soil erosion, protect crops and livestock, provide food and cover for wildlife, buffer noise, provide valuable products, and add beauty to the landscape.

For more information or to place an order, contact the LENRD or your local Natural Resources Conservation Service.  Orders must be received by March 8th to guarantee arrival in April.   Visit www.lenrd.org/tree-catalog for more details.

Nebraska Tree Canopy in Decline, Planting More Important Than Ever

Trees help soften the harsh climate of the Great Plains, but recent weather events are leaving Nebraska communities at-risk of being devoid of trees and their innumerable benefits.

According to the Nebraska Forest Service, Nebraska communities lost an average of 18 percent of their tree canopy in the last two decades due to extreme weather events, diseases and invasive insects.

As a result of the 2012 wildfires, northwest Nebraska lost large sections of forests unique to the Pine Ridge District. Upper Niobrara White Natural Resources District (UNWNRD) is helping replant the ponderosa pine forests in the area. UNWNRD Director Scott Berndt has seen firsthand the benefits of tree planting.

“Nebraska has a proud history of planting trees, but we’ve fallen behind in maintaining our once-coveted designation,” Berndt said. “Trees are an investment in the future, and Nebraskans should revitalize their tree-planting spirit.”

Each year, Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) help communities and landowners plant more than 700,000 trees throughout the state. For approximately $1 each, conservation trees benefit both people and animals. They shade and shelter homes, reduce soil erosion, protect crops and livestock, provide food and cover for wildlife, buffer noise, provide valuable products and add beauty to the landscape.

Each NRD program varies, but possible tree program services include: planting, weed barrier installation or weed control, and drip irrigation. Order your trees now as NRDs will soon close tree orders for spring plantings. For more information or to place an order, contact your local NRD or visit www.nrdnet.org and select “Find Your NRD.”

Learn more about the NRD Conservation Tree Program at www.nrdtrees.org.  


One of the Area's premier indoor farm events, the TRIUMPH OF AGRICULTURE EXPOSITION will be held March 3-4, 2021, at the CHI Health Center - Omaha, 10th and Capitol Avenue, just off I-480.  The 55th Annual Farm and Ranch Machinery Show will once again be filled with the latest agricultural innovations, equipment and supplies with more than 500 displays for farmers, ranchers, and their wives to meet experts all on one level of over 100,000 square feet in the state-of-the-art CHI Health Center - Omaha.     Since 1967, the Triumph of Ag Expo has been regarded as one of the finest indoor farm shows. The 2021 Expo is your opportunity before spring planting to save time and money, improve operations, yields, safety, efficiency and find the latest solutions. In this challenging industry, the Annual Omaha Show is convenient for farmers to attend with Free Admission, which it has offered for over 50 years.   


The Triumph of Agriculture Exposition established the Annual “Agri-Award” as part of Nebraska’s Centennial Celebration, in 1976 to recognize outstanding organizations and individuals that have contributed to the Agricultural Development in the Midwestern area. This year's winners are Ken Pohlman, Founder & CEO of Midwest Laboratories, and Don Bacon, US Congressman, will receive their awards at a Special Presentation at 12 Noon, during the Luncheon on Wednesday, March 3 at the CHI Health Center Omaha. For those interested in attending the Luncheon call 402-346-8003, $15.00 per person.

Ken Pohlman, Founder & CEO - Midwest Laboratories

Ken Pohlman’s laboratory career has spanned 58 years, (1962-2020).  Ken’s background in soil physics and agronomy led him early in his career to manage analytical testing labs. He gained tremendous knowledge in areas like soils, feeds, fertilizer, and plants. Ken’s experience in the lab and ag retail business prepared him for his ultimate venture of starting a new lab, A&L Midwest Labs in Omaha, NE in 1975. As the lab grew, it became apparent the location at 120th and Center was quickly going to be too small and in 1978 the decision was made to move to the 136th and B Street location. From here, Ken purchased the company from Midwest Labs and grew its current campus in 2020 to 14 buildings, from A Street to C Street. The company is currently in the process of moving to a new campus in Papillion.

Midwest Laboratories, under Ken’s direction, has grown and flourished. Soil sample volumes have grown exponentially over the years. In 2020, soil sample volumes hit an all-time record of 1,800,000 soil samples received. In addition, the company expanded into other industries including municipality drinking water/wastewater, pet food, food safety/microbiology and ethanol and has a total employee count of 218 employees.

Don Bacon - U.S. Congressman

Growing up and working on a farm in Illinois, Congressman Don Bacon learned first-hand how the value of hard work and commitment contributes to the success of a small business. He moved from the family farm to attend Northern Illinois University, from which he graduated with a Bachelors of Political Science in 1984, the same year he married Angie, the love of his life. They have three sons, one daughter, and six grandchildren. One year later, he began his military career by joining the U.S. Air Force and serving nearly 30 years, ultimately retiring as a Brigadier General. Rep. Don Bacon (NE-02) has been named as Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations. The subcommittee addresses policies and statutes relating to nutrition, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and domestic commodity distribution and consumer initiatives, as well as department agency oversight and special investigations.

“During this pandemic, more families are struggling to put food on the table as they suffer job losses and income reductions. I am looking forward to working on how we can best make nutrition and domestic food assistance programs more efficient and effective so families most in need will get the assistance these programs were intended to provide,” said Rep. Bacon.

"The Triumph of Ag Expo is always packed with lots of new improvements and helpful information" says Brent Pohlman from Midwest Laboratories. At no other time this spring will area Farm Operators be able to see this much farm equipment and technology on display.  The 2021 Expo is excited to have RFD TV coverage leading up to and during this year's Expo. New features for the first time include a designated area showcasing “Innovations in Farming."  "It's an excellent opportunity to see all types of Short-Line farm equipment, new products, labor and time saving ideas all under one roof," says Mike Mancuso, the Show's Producer.  "The Triumph of Ag Expo is the best place for farmers to find answers for what they do control while taking advantage of the new technologies with hands-on experience.  The show will continue to feature educational seminars, new technologies with the old reliable that are so popular in the industry."

The Expo has something for every kind of farm operation, including tillage equipment, planters, monitor and control systems, soil testing equipment, mowers, cattle chutes, augers, fertilizers, various seed hybrids, feeders, tanks and pumps, hay moving and handling equipment, plows, combines, computers and software, tractors, and many more agricultural products and services for today's farmers and ranchers.          

      If you are interested in agriculture and farming, this year’s Expo is the place to be on March 3-4, 2021. Exhibits are open 9 AM to 4 PM on Wednesday and 9 AM to 3 PM on Thursday.     In addition to all of the latest equipment, products, and services, see antique farm tractors and equipment, and enjoy special programs.  THE TRIUMPH OF AGRICULTURE EXPOSITION FARM & RANCH MACHINERY SHOW   is produced by Mid-America Expositions, Inc.

Smith and Biofuels Caucus Co-Chairs Introduce Legislation to Ensure Transparency in RFS Small Refinery Waiver Process

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) joined his fellow co-Chairs of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus, Representatives Angie Craig (D-MN), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Cindy Axne (D-IA), Rodney Davis (R-IL), and Mark Pocan (D-WI), in introducing bipartisan legislation to ensure transparency and predictability to the Environmental Protection Agency’s small refinery exemption (SRE) process.

The Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act would require small refineries to submit a petition for a Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) hardship exemption by June 1st of each year, allowing EPA to properly account for exempted gallons in the annual Renewable Volume Obligations set each November. The bill would also increase transparency by mandating the public disclosure of data surrounding SREs – a process that has previously been carried out behind closed doors with little to no congressional oversight.

“Now, more than ever, transparency in fuel markets is vital for our farmers and biofuels producers,” said Representative Adrian Smith. “The Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act will ensure all parties can make production decisions knowing they can rely on EPA to fairly and evenly enforce the RFS.”

By law, the RFS requires that the EPA make adjustments when determining future biofuels targets to account for waivers to ensure that the overall biofuels targets are not reduced by waivers. However, in recent years, the agency has not accounted for these waivers, which has undercut the demand for biofuels. And under the Trump Administration, the EPA greatly expanded the number of small refinery hardship biofuel waivers that were issued, including exemptions to Exxon Mobil and Chevron. By issuing 85 waivers under former Administrator Scott Pruitt, the EPA saved the oil industry hundreds of millions of dollars while threatening rural economies and harming the biofuels industry at large.

The bipartisan bill is supported by the National Corn Growers, Growth Energy, Fuels America, the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Biodiesel Board, the American Soybean Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and the National Farmers Union.

Growth Energy Applauds Introduction of Bipartisan RFS Integrity Act

Today, U.S. Representatives Angie Craig (D-Minn.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) introduced the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act to reduce the secrecy currently surrounding the small refinery exemption (SRE) process and bring more certainty into the renewable fuel marketplace. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor released the following statement in strong support of the legislation:

“We applaud the introduction of the RFS Integrity Act and the strong bipartisan effort to restore integrity and transparency to the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Skor. “The intent of the RFS is to blend more biofuels into our nation’s transportation fuel supply every year, not have oil companies use questionable tactics to delay and avoid their blending obligations, creating a tremendous amount of uncertainty for farmers, biofuels producers, and the entire fuel supply chain.

“Recent research has found that greenhouse gas emissions from corn ethanol are 46 percent lower than gasoline. As science on biofuels continues to update and highlight the increasing environmental benefits of ethanol over gasoline, it’s critical we restore the RFS to its original intent and harness the power of biofuels to immediately address climate change concerns and decarbonize our transportation fleet. We are grateful to Rep. Craig and Rep. Johnson for their continued leadership on this issue.”

Currently, EPA does not impose a clear deadline for submitting a request for an SRE. If enacted, the RFS Integrity Act would set an annual deadline of June 1st for refineries to submit SRE petitions and bring greater transparency to SREs by no longer excluding from public disclosure the refinery’s name, the number of exempted gallons requested, and the compliance year requested.

ACE Endorses the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act

Representative Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Representative Angie Craig (D-Minn) led Co-Chairs of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus in introducing the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act, legislation that addresses the timing and transparency issues associated with the small refinery exemption (SRE) program under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings issued the following statement in support:

“ACE thanks Representatives Johnson and Craig for leading the reintroduction of this bipartisan legislation to ensure the statutory volumes of the Renewable Fuel Standard are enforced by restoring transparency and integrity to EPA’s handling of small refinery exemptions. This legislation is necessary because under President Trump, EPA brazenly granted nearly 90 waivers for small refineries, erasing over 4 billion gallons from the RFS volumes established by Congress. As of today, 66 additional refinery waivers are pending.”

Growth Energy Rejects Attempt by Oil to Forgo Blending Obligations

Growth Energy submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to the petitions from refiners and oil states to waive renewable fuel blending obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for the 2019 and 2020 compliance years.

The petitioners claim that the alleged negative economic impacts caused by COVID-19, the Tenth Circuit’s small refinery exemption (SRE) decision last year, and, in their view, the high cost of RINs, entitle refiners to a waiver of their obligations because compliance with the RFS would cause “severe economic harm.”  

As Growth Energy notes in its comment response, these refiners and oil states claims run counter to how the RFS is supposed to work and are far from meeting the narrow conditions under which such waivers have been and should be granted.   

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor stated that “many industries, including the biofuels industry, are suffering from the drop in transportation fuel demand brought on by the pandemic. The petitioners’ misguided and misleading attempt to frame the severe economic harm waiver in terms that would selectively and unfairly benefit the oil industry at the expense of America’s biofuels and agriculture producers should be roundly and swiftly rejected by the EPA.”

Johnsonville Rolling Out New Ground Sausage Flavors

(from National Pork Board newsletter)

Starting this month, Johnsonville is rolling out three new flavors of seasoned ground sausage nationwide. The flavors include Sloppy Joe, Original Taco and Salt & Pepper. Pork Board shared insights with Johnsonville about the growing demand of ground pork, leading to the development of the Salt & Pepper product to capitalize on the category’s growing popularity. The most recent IRI data on retail meat sales, available through Checkoff-funded subscription, shows ground pork sales for the four-week period ending January 24 grew nearly 9% compared to the same period last year.

Albertson’s, Safeway, Hy-Vee, Target and Cub Foods are all carrying the new flavors.

Ground Pork Recipe Labels Debut in Arizona  

The Pork Board is partnering with Bashas’ — a 130-store retailer in Arizona and New Mexico — to apply recipe labels to their ground pork packages. The labels provide customers with recipe ideas, including “Meals in 25 Minutes or Less” and “Easy Appetizers.” A QR code also sends users to a collection of ground pork recipes on Yummly.

The new relationship with Bashas' is in collaboration with JBS® Pork and provides shoppers with more reasons to buy pork at a time when they are showing increased interest in ground pork and looking for meal inspiration.

Science Shows Soy Good for Health in USA & Abroad

Today’s release of the U.S. government’s 'Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025’ reaffirms the role of U.S. soy in human diets. As a globally-respected, science-based reference, the report recognizes soy in core elements of healthy dietary patterns.

ASA’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) Program offers training on these health benefits with entrepreneurs and organizations in emerging and developing countries that produce nutritious foods and feeds containing soy that contribute to improved health and economic opportunities. WISHH connects trade and development across global market systems, improving food security.

The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services issued the 164-page report. It stresses, “The foods and beverages that people consume have a profound impact on their health.” The Dietary Guidelines is designed for policymakers and nutrition and health professionals to help all individuals and their families consume a healthy, nutritionally adequate diet. This edition of the Dietary Guidelines highlights the importance of encouraging healthy dietary patterns at every life stage from infancy through older adulthood.

Soy’s potential to contribute to a healthy dietary pattern includes:
• Protein foods, including lean meats, poultry, and eggs; seafood; beans, peas, and lentils; and nuts, seeds, and soy products
• Soy-fortified beverages and yogurts
• Oils, including vegetable oils

“When U.S. soybean growers founded WISHH 20 years ago, they recognized the important role that U.S. soy could take in meeting the nutritional needs of the world’s fastest-growing populations in developing and emerging economies,” says Kentucky soybean grower Gerry Hayden who serves as ASA/WISHH Chairman as well as on the ASA Board.

“WISHH is currently working with strategic partners in 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America who are making more protein available through soyfoods, breads, beverages as well as fish, eggs, and meat.”

Knowing that protein plays an essential role in human nutrition, visionary U.S. soybean growers founded WISHH in 2000 to serve as a catalyst in emerging markets. WISHH brings the power of strategic partnerships to our unique market-systems approach. Local business leaders, governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as academic institutions join WISHH in increasing demand and fueling economic growth for the sustained availability of nutritious and affordable human foods and livestock feeds.


(NPPC Newsletter)

Late last week, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) extended its COVID-19 emergency declaration for Hours of Service (HOS) waivers for the transportation of livestock and livestock feed through May 31. HOS governs the amount of time commercial truckers can drive their loads and when they are required to rest between drives. The agency had previously extended the waivers through Feb. 28. NPPC thanks the administration and FMCSA for ensuring the continuity of the U.S pork supply chain as an essential element of the nation’s food delivery infrastructure.  

On Monday, the World Trade Organization (WTO) formally approved former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as its next director general. Her term will start on March 1 and is set to run through Aug. 31, 2025. Last fall, Okonjo-Iweala emerged as the consensus choice to lead the WTO for all but one member—the United States—which backed South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee. That led to a stalemate that essentially halted any WTO actions, until earlier this month when Myung-hee withdrew her nomination. The U.S Trade Representative’s office recently issued a statement, expressing “strong support” for Okonjo-Iweala.

Commodity Classic Extends Invitation to USDA Secretary-Nominee Vilsack To Provide Keynote During 2021 Digital Event

With his pending return to the position of U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack may also be returning to Commodity Classic as the keynote speaker during one of its 2021 General Sessions.

Commodity Classic has extended an official invitation to Secretary-nominee Vilsack to speak with attendees during the 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic during the Closing General Session from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Central on Friday, March 5.

Vilsack has spoken at several Commodity Classic events over the years while he served with USDA under the Obama Administration.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s Commodity Classic is being delivered digitally online March 2-5, 2021.

Registration for the 2021 Special Edition is available at CommodityClassic.com. Thanks to the generous support of sponsors, the first 5,000 farmers who register can do so at no charge.  All other attendees can register for $20. Registration includes access to the entire week’s program as well as access to archived sessions through April 30, 2021.

The 2021 Special Edition schedule includes more than 50 educational sessions across 3-1/2 days, including executive roundtables, Learning Centers, What’s New Sessions, General Sessions and a number of ways to connect with agribusiness companies and other farmers from across the nation. A complete schedule of events is available at CommodityClassic.com.

Premier Sponsors of the 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic are AGCO, Bayer, Case IH, Corteva Agriscience, John Deere and the United Soybean Board/Soy Checkoff.

Champion Sponsors are BASF and Syngenta. Key Sponsors are Great Plains Manufacturing, Inc., Kubota, New Holland, Pioneer, Precision Planting and Valent U.S.A.

Cattle Producers Raise More Than 40K to Fight for the Opportunity to Vote on Beef Checkoff

On December 12, 2020, Fort Pierre Livestock Auction hosted a successful fund-raiser that generated more than $40,000 for the national Beef Checkoff Referendum Campaign. The money generated from the calf sale will be used to directly fund this campaign.

A market ready steer was donated by Vaughn and Lois Meyer of Reva, S.D., and Kenzy Backgrounding in Gregory, S.D. The value of the steer was further increased when U.S. Beef Producers in Ft. Pierre, S.D., donated the processing of the animal.

Vaughn Meyer serves as the R-CALF USA Checkoff Committee Chair and initiated this fundraising effort. “Funding events and donations are crucial in supporting the Checkoff petition drive to purchase materials and advertising for all the hard-working office and ground personnel that are sacrificing their own time and resources to assist beef producers with their first Checkoff vote in over 35 years,” said Meyer.

“Although the Beef Promotion Act allows periodic referendums, there has never been a referendum giving producers a say in their Checkoff,” he continued. “Voting is the ‘American way’ and if producers, especially young producers, want a voice in their program they have to secure a referendum consisting of over 10% (89,000) of their fellow producers. Unlike most American elections, this referendum obstacle must be overcome before any voting can take place.”

When asked why he stepped forward to host this fundraiser, Bryan Hanson, co-owner of Ft. Pierre Livestock Auction and former R-CALF USA president said, “The Checkoff program doesn’t differentiate it’s advertising program to U.S. product versus imported product. That is something I have been frustrated with for quite some time.

“The number two issue is the main contractor of the Checkoff is the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) that has fought us on several issues that would help independent producers be profitable,” Hanson continued. “They were instrumental in helping to lobby to get rid of Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (M-COOL) for beef rather than litigate the World Trade Organization (WTO); they are extremely forceful in fighting any attempt to reimplement M-COOL for beef; and they oppose 50/14 and that is something that is very important to put competition into this fed cattle industry.”

The 50/14 bill would require beef packers with more than one plant to purchase at least 50% of their cattle in the competitive cash market each day and require those cattle to be harvested within 14 days of purchase.

R-CALF USA Field Director Karina Jones added, “This rollover fundraiser was unique in the fact that we used our national checkoff committee to bring in donations from across the United States. The fact that we received donations from 16 different states; from California to Kentucky and North Dakota to Texas tells us how much support there is for this campaign.”

“It has been 35 years since American cattle producers were given the opportunity to vote on a Beef Checkoff Referendum,” said Jones adding, “The strong support for this fundraiser, which was organized in a short period of time, speaks volumes as to how strongly cattle producers want to vote again.”

It was a packed house at Fort Pierre Livestock and the energy could be felt. “Our Ft. Pierre rollover fundraiser was a huge success thanks to all the independent cattle producers, the numerous agricultural related main street businesses and the dedicated crew at Ft. Pierre Livestock Auction. I am especially grateful to our R-CALF USA staff and board of directors who have stepped up and undertaken this referendum challenge on behalf of all USA beef producers,” praised Meyer.

Hanson agreed, “I thought it was a pretty big statement that we could hold a rollover auction in Ft. Pierre and raise over $40,000. That shows to me that producers are pretty fired up about this issue.”

“The funds raised are being used to support and maintain the www.CheckoffVote.com website, in addition to the costs incurred by a national producer mailing effort that has already placed the petition into the mailboxes of tens of thousands of cattle producers,” explained Jones.

Cattle producers are encouraged to sign the petition at www.CheckoffVote.com to signal to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that the cattle industry desires to vote on a Beef Checkoff Referendum. Hardcopy petitions can be printed from the website for everyone to take around to their cattle producing neighbors to sign.

Anyone who would like to donate to support the Checkoff Petition Campaign or send in signed hardcopy petitions can send to Checkoff Vote, P.O. Box 30536, Billings, MT, 59107, or call 406-252-2516.

Tractor Supply Co. to Acquire Orscheln Farm & Home

Tractor Supply Company announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Orscheln Farm and Home for approximately $297 million.

Orscheln Farm and Home operates 167 stores located in 11 states: Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Kentucky, Illinois and Ohio. The acquisition is conditioned on the receipt of regulatory approval and satisfactory completion of customary closing conditions.

"This is an exciting step for Tractor Supply as we expand our footprint in the Midwest with the high-quality assets of Orscheln Farm and Home. We have always had great respect for Barry Orscheln and the team at Orscheln Farm and Home for the strong connection they have with customers in the communities they serve, along with their industry knowledge and capabilities," said Hal Lawton, Tractor Supply's President and Chief Executive Officer.

Tractor Supply's preliminary estimates indicate the acquisition will be immediately accretive to earnings per share upon closing. Tractor Supply intends to fund the acquisition through existing cash on hand.