Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Wednesday March 31 Ag News - Prospective Plantings, March 1 Grain Stocks, plus more!


Nebraska corn growers intend to plant 9.90 million acres this year, down 3% from 2020, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Soybean planted acreage is expected to be 5.50 million acres, up 6% from last year.

All hay acreage to be harvested is expected to total 2.70 million acres, down 1% from 2020.

Winter wheat acres seeded in the fall of 2020 are estimated at a record low 900,000 acres, slightly less than last year.

Sorghum growers in Nebraska intend to plant 300,000 acres, up 54% from a year ago.

Oat intentions are estimated at 120,000 acres, down 11% from last year.

Dry edible bean acreage intentions are estimated at 140,000 acres, down 15% from 2020.

Sugarbeet growers expect to plant 48,000 acres, up 4% from last year.

Sunflower producers expect to plant 46,000 acres, down 8% from 2020. Oil varieties account for 38,000 acres, down 5% from a year ago. Non-oil varieties made up the balance of 8,000 acres, a record low, down 20% from the previous year.

Dry edible pea acreage intentions are estimated at 34,000 acres, down 6% from last year.
Estimates in this report are based on a survey conducted during the first two weeks of March.


Iowa farmers intend to plant 13.2 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2021 according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Prospective Plantings report. This is down 400,000 acres from 2020.

Producers intend to plant 9.80 million acres of soybeans in Iowa this year. This is a 400,000 acre increase from 2020.

Iowa farmers intend to plant 150,000 acres of oats for all purposes. This is a 20,000 acre decrease from last year.

Farmers in Iowa expect to harvest 1.15 million acres of all dry hay for the 2021 crop year. This is 10,000 acre decrease from last year.

The Prospective Plantings report provides the first official, survey-based estimates of U.S. farmers’ 2021 planting intentions. NASS’s acreage estimates are based primarily on surveys conducted during the first two weeks of March from a sample of approximately 78,900 farm operators across the United States with more than 2,800 from Iowa. Actual plantings will depend upon weather, economic conditions and the availability of production inputs at the time producers make their final planting decisions.

USDA Prospective Plantings Report - March 31, 2021

Corn Planted Acreage Up Less than 1 Percent from 2020
Soybean Acreage Up 5 Percent
All Wheat Acreage Up 5 Percent
All Cotton Acreage Down Less than 1 Percent

Corn planted area for all purposes in 2021 is estimated at 91.1 million acres, up less than 1 percent or an increase of 325,000 acres from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage is expected to be up or unchanged in 24 of the 48 estimating States.

Soybean planted area for 2021 is estimated at 87.6 million acres, up 5 percent from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage is up or unchanged in 23 of the 29 estimating States.

All wheat planted area for 2021 is estimated at 46.4 million acres, up 5 percent from 2020. This represents the fourth lowest all wheat planted area since records began in 1919. The 2021 winter wheat planted area, at 33.1 million acres, is up 9 percent from last year and up 3 percent from the previous estimate. Of this total, about 23.2 million acres are Hard Red Winter, 6.42 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.48 million acres are White Winter. Area expected to be planted to other spring wheat for 2021 is estimated at 11.7 million acres, down 4 percent from 2020. Of this total, about 10.9 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. Durum planted area for 2021 is expected to total 1.54 million acres, down 9 percent from the previous year.

All cotton planted area for 2021 is estimated at 12.0 million acres, down less than 1 percent from last year. Upland area is estimated at 11.9 million acres, up slightly from 2020. American Pima area is estimated at 142,000 acres, down 30 percent from 2020.


Nebraska corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2021 totaled 913 million bushels, down 8% from 2020, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Of the total, 460 million bushels are stored on farms, down 19% from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 453 million bushels, are up 7% from last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions totaled 110 million bushels, down 43% from last year. On-farm stocks of 23.0 million bushels are down 59% from a year ago, and off-farm stocks, at 87.1 million bushels, are down 36% from 2020.

Wheat stored in all positions totaled 36.5 million bushels, down 25% from a year ago. On-farm stocks of 1.60 million bushels are down 66% from 2020, and off-farm stocks of 34.9 million bushels are down 20% from last year.

Sorghum stored in all positions totaled 4.72 million bushels, down 41% from 2020. On-farm stocks of 155,000 bushels are down 70% from a year ago and off-farm holdings of 4.56 million bushels are down 39% from last year.

Oats stored in all positions totaled 896,000 bushels. On-farm stocks of 350,000 bushels are down 5% from 2020. Off-farm stocks totaled 546,000 bushels.

Barley off-farm stocks totaled 145,000 bushels.


Corn stored in all positions in Iowa on March 1, 2021, totaled 1.39 billion bushels, down 8% from March 1, 2020, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Grain Stocks report. Of the total stocks, 56% were stored on-farm. The December-February 2021 indicated disappearance totaled 484 million bushels, 23% below the 625 million bushels from the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions in Iowa on March 1, 2021, totaled 255 million bushels, 37% below the 403 million bushels on hand March 1, 2020. Of the total stocks, 37% were stored on-farm. Indicated disappearance for December-February 2021 is 151 million bushels, 37% above the 110 million bushels from the same quarter last year.

Oats stored on-farm in Iowa on March 1, 2021, totaled 1.1 million bushels, up 22% from March 1, 2020.

USDA March 1 Grain Stocks Report

Corn Stocks Down 3 Percent from March 2020
Soybean Stocks Down 31 Percent
All Wheat Stocks Down 7 Percent

Corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2021 totaled 7.70 billion bushels, down 3 percent from March 1, 2020. Of the total stocks, 4.04 billion bushels were stored on farms, down 9 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 3.66 billion bushels, are up 5 percent from a year ago. The December 2020 - February 2021 indicated disappearance is 3.59 billion bushels, compared with 3.38 billion bushels during the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions on March 1, 2021 totaled 1.56 billion bushels, down 31 percent from March 1, 2020. Soybean stocks stored on farms are estimated at 594 million bushels, down 41 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 970 million bushels, are down 22 percent from last March. Indicated disappearance for the December 2020 - February 2021 quarter totaled 1.38 billion bushels, up 39 percent from the same period a year earlier.

All wheat stored in all positions on March 1, 2021 totaled 1.31 billion bushels, down 7 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 284 million bushels, down 16 percent from last March. Off-farm stocks, at 1.03 billion bushels, are down 4 percent from a year ago. The December 2020 - February 2021 indicated disappearance is 388 million bushels, 9 percent below the same period a year earlier.

Durum wheat stocks in all positions on March 1, 2021 totaled 42.7 million bushels, down 17 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 22.6 million bushels, are down 4 percent from March 1, 2020. Off-farm stocks totaled 20.1 million bushels, down 28 percent from a year ago. The December 2020 - February 2021 indicated disappearance of 18.9 million bushels is 46 percent above the same period a year earlier.

Barley stocks in all positions on March 1, 2021 totaled 120 million bushels, up 4 percent from March 1, 2020. On-farm stocks are estimated at 55.9 million bushels, 8 percent above a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 64.5 million bushels, are 1 percent above March 2020. The December 2020 - February 2021 indicated disappearance totaled 28.2 million bushels, 33 percent below the same period a year earlier.

Oats stored in all positions on March 1, 2021 totaled 51.5 million bushels, 8 percent above the stocks on March 1, 2020. Of the total stocks on hand, 16.9 million bushels were stored on farms, down 1 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks totaled 34.6 million bushels, up 13 percent from the previous year. Indicated disappearance during December 2020 - February 2021 totaled 11.1 million bushels, 78 percent above the same period a year ago.

Grain sorghum stored in all positions on March 1, 2021 totaled 137 million bushels, down 17 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 5.12 million bushels, are down 70 percent from last March. Off-farm stocks, at 131 million bushels, are down 11 percent from a year earlier. The December 2020 - February 2021 indicated disappearance from all positions is 83.1 million bushels, 3 percent below the same period last year.

Sunflower stocks in all positions on March 1, 2021 totaled 1.07 billion pounds, 40 percent above March 1, 2020. All stocks stored on farms totaled 415 million pounds and off-farm stocks totaled 659 million pounds. Stocks of oil type sunflower seed are 888 million pounds; of this total, 331 million pounds are on-farm stocks and 557 million pounds are off-farm stocks. Non-oil sunflower stocks totaled 186 million pounds, with 83.8 million pounds stored on the farm and 102 million pounds stored off the farm.

Gerlach awarded 2021 Steve Nelson Yeutter Institute International Trade Internship

Savannah Gerlach of DeWitt, Neb., is the inaugural recipient of the Steve Nelson Yeutter Institute International Trade Internship Award. The award honors Steve Nelson, a longtime Nebraska Farm Bureau leader, as it helps students gain valuable experience in the nation’s capital.  

“Agriculture will benefit in the long term because youth receiving this award will learn how to influence future agricultural trade policy,” said Mark McHargue, Nebraska Farm Bureau President.

“Nebraska Farm Bureau's extensive involvement in the trade arena and support for agricultural youth and leadership development, makes this internship a perfect match for these priorities.”

The award will provide Gerlach with $6,000 to intern full-time with the Washington International Trade Association (WITA) this summer in Washington, D.C. WITA is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to providing a neutral forum for the open and robust discussion of international trade policy and related issues. She will gain valuable exposure to and experience with trade policy issues and trade leaders in business, agriculture, law, academia, non-governmental organizations, embassies, and the U.S. Government.

“I’m incredibly excited to be in the heart of ag policy and trade so that I can discover career opportunities, build my network and see what is out there,” said Gerlach a sophomore studying agricultural economics with a public policy option and minors in international agriculture and natural resources and leadership and communications within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“This opportunity will put me on the right path to prepare myself for everything I want to do in the future.”

Gerlach grew up raising show pigs on her family’s hog operation in southeast Nebraska and always knew she wanted to make agriculture her future career. Last year she served as a State FFA Officer, where she was able to travel across the state of Nebraska and internationally – exposing her to virtually every avenue of agriculture.

Gerlach knew she wanted to be involved with international agriculture very early on. Her interest in trade policy and building international agriculture relationships was jump started when she listened to a presentation by Jill O’Donnell, Director of the Yeutter Institute, as a high school student attending the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Conference.

“Because of my background and involvements, I have a strong grip of what ag means in Nebraska, but something I’m really excited to see is what role ag plays in the U.S. economy on the international scale,” Gerlach said.  

“To be able to see what it really means in that kind of atmosphere, it will grow my respect and passion for agriculture, even more so rounding out my perspective. Seeing what it means will help me appreciate it and be an even better ambassador for it– especially Nebraska agriculture.”

Following completion of her internship, Gerlach will work with Yeutter Institute leadership to plan an educational event for students and the public on an agricultural trade policy issue.

Gifts in honor of the Steve Nelson Yeutter Institute International Trade Internship Award may be directed to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation. Donations can be made online at or mailed to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, P.O. Box 80299 Lincoln, Neb. 68501.  

The Nebraska Farm Bureau is a grassroots, statewide organization dedicated to supporting farm and ranch families and working for the benefit of all Nebraskans thought a wide variety of educations, service and advocacy efforts. More than 58,000 families across Nebraska are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve rural and urban prosperity as agriculture is a key fuel to Nebraska’s economy. For more information about Nebraska Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit

The vision of University of Nebraska-Lincoln alumnus and renowned trade expert Clayton Yeutter, the Yeutter Institute connects academic disciplines related to law, business and agriculture in order to prepare students for leadership roles in international trade and finance, support interdisciplinary research and increase public understanding of these issues. For more information about the Yeutter Institute, visit

Passion for speaking earns Husker national champion spot at American Farm Bureau Collegiate Discussion Meet

A Nebraska student’s passion for dialogue and agricultural policy earned her the champion spot at the American Farm Bureau Collegiate Discussion Meet.  

Abby Durheim, senior agricultural and environmental sciences communication major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Virginia native, claimed her victory on March 13 at the American Farm Bureau Foundation’s 2021 FUSION Reimagined Conference held virtually this year.  

The contest is designed to simulate a committee meeting. Contestants are given a set of five questions that evaluate an agricultural issue prior to the discussion. They are able to reflect on the questions before they begin to discuss each one for about 20 minutes, ending with a closing statement. Durheim’s final and winning question asked participants to consider solutions to enhance rural economies.  

Durheim approached the issue with a two-pronged solution. She argued that for rural economies to thrive, agricultural profitability needed to be examined from a new perspective to ensure operations could financially support multiple families. In addition, she believed bridging the gap of opportunity in urban, suburban and rural communities would enhance rural economies. Durheim capitalized on the point that the combination of those two solutions creates the idea that when agriculture does good, rural economies do good and therefore rural economies have an opportunity.  

As she wraps up senior year, this accomplishment is only one of many for Durheim. She feels humbled to have been a part of the competition and saw the value in having those conversations with others that they will all be able to bring back to local and collegiate Farm Bureau chapters. Additionally, Durheim learned the value of not leading every conversation, but instead listening and facilitating, too.  

“It was absolutely humbling to have had such intense dialogue with such fierce competitors and to be able to provide such unique solutions to these issues and have someone tell me I was really good at it,” said Durheim.  

Looking to the future, Durheim dreams of being on Capitol Hill as an agricultural lobbyist for a general farming organization. The conversations and committee-like discussions had at the meet prepare her to further be able to connect farmers and ranchers to have those conversations at all levels. This opportunity gave her a chance to see agricultural issues happening on the ground and gave her the skills of effective communication.  

Durheim lends her motivation to continue to strive for her dreams and goals to those around her in Nebraska, Virginia and past Young Farmers and Ranchers who continue to cheer her on. Agriculture is certainly not something she was born into, but it is something she continues to be a voice for.  

“To be part of the ag community when you weren’t born into it, like I wasn’t born into production agriculture, is really, really special,” she said.  

NGFA members elect officers and Board of Directors

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) announced today that its members re-elected JoAnn Brouillette, president and managing partner of Demeter LP in Fowler, Ind., as NGFA Chairman.

NGFA distributed a ballot on March 15 to member companies eligible to vote (Active and Affiliated Association Members) for the election of NGFA’s Board of Directors and industry officers and the ratification of amendments to NGFA’s Bylaws, Trade Rules and Arbitration Rules. Ballots were due on March 26.

Election of NGFA Officers and Directors
Congratulations to NGFA’s industry officers who were re-elected to serve one-year terms:
NGFA Chairman: JoAnn Brouillette, Managing Partner, Demeter LP, Fowler, Ind.
NGFA First Vice Chairman: Greg Beck, Senior Vice President, Grain Division, CGB Enterprises, Covington, La.
NGFA Second Vice Chairman: Chris Boerm, President, Global Transportation, Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill.

Congratulations to NGFA’s new directors elected to serve three-year terms on NGFA’s Board:
Matt Ashton, Chief Executive Officer, New Vision Cooperative, Brewster, Minn.
Augusto Bassanini, President and CEO, United Grain Corp., Vancouver, Wash.
Gary Beachner, President and CEO, Beachner Grain Inc., Parsons, Kan.
Jeff Bechard, Senior Vice President, Grain, Central Valley Ag, York, Neb.

Jean Bratton, Chief Executive Officer, Centerra Cooperative, Ashland, Ohio
Dawn Caldwell, Head of Government Affairs, Aurora Cooperative, Aurora, Neb.

Mark Cullen, Senior Vice President, Feed and Livestock, The Equity, Effingham, Ill.
Chris Faust, Managing Director, North America and Country Manager U.S.A., COFCO International Grains US LLC, Chicago, Ill.
Tom Fernandes, Director of Commodity Finance, Grain Service Corp., Atlanta, Ga.
Brian Gier, Vice President, Sales, Purina Animal Nutrition, LLC, Land O’Lakes Inc., Arden Hills, Minn.
Bill Krueger, President, Trade and Processing Group, The Andersons, Overland Park, Kan.
 Mike Tate, Director, Origination North America, Bunge North America Inc., Chesterfield, Mo.

Ratification of Amendments to NGFA’s Bylaws and Rules  

The ratified amendments involved changes to 1) NGFA’s Bylaws broadening the application of existing term limits for members of the Executive Committee; 2) NGFA’s Trade Rules to define what is a “container” under the rules and align the terms for billing in the Barge Trade and Barge Freight Trading Rules; and 3) NGFA’s Arbitration Rules to address concerns related to the filing of arguments, requesting extensions and oral hearings, and expanding legal liability protections for NGFA and its arbitrators.

Beef Corn Silage Calculator Is Newly Updated

Those who use silage in their beef rations are invited to consider using a free calculator from Iowa Beef Center that provides helpful information.

According to developer Garland Dahlke, the Corn Silage to Beef Calculator provides a means to rank the potential value of corn silage varieties used in beef rations. Dahlke, who is an associate scientist at IBC, said several factors are important aspects of the tool.

"Although grain yield has always been a primary criterion for hybrid selection, kernel starch digestibility and plant fiber digestibility are factors that cannot be ignored when assessing the value of one variety over another," he said.

This Excel-based application has been available for some time; however, after a couple years of use some minor adjustments and the inclusion of starch digestibility into the calculation have been incorporated into the overall assessment.

This calculator is free to download from the calculators page on the IBC website. Contact Dahlke with questions or comments at 515-294-9910 or

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

Explore the Water Quality Impact of Cover Crops

Iowa Learning Farms, in partnership with the Iowa Nutrient Research Center and Conservation Learning Group, is hosting a free virtual field day discussing spring cover crop management tips and the impact of cover crops on water quality as part of the Conservation Learning Labs project on April 15 at 1 p.m.

Join for a live discussion with Mark Licht, Iowa State University assistant professor and cropping systems specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, and Matt Helmers, professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering and extension ag engineering specialist at Iowa State, who also directs the Iowa Nutrient Research Center.

Cover crops are one of the key practices of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy aimed at reducing nutrient losses from the landscape to our rivers and streams. Additionally, cover crops offer a wide range of benefits including reducing soil erosion, improving infiltration and soil health, weed suppression and grazing opportunities. Best management practices for spring management of cover crops are key to maximizing those benefits and reducing potential yield reductions.

The Conservation Learning Labs project, started in 2016, explores the water quality impact of high levels of cover crop and reduced tillage implementation on a small watershed scale. The project focused on watersheds between 500 and 1,300 total acres in size located in Floyd and Story counties. The watersheds have existing Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program wetlands that provided baseline water quality monitoring data. The continued monitoring allows for the comparison of water quality before and after conservation practice implementation and to a similarly sized control watershed that did not implement conservation practices.

“Through three years of water quality monitoring we have not seen reduction in nitrate levels in the watersheds with conservation practices implemented, possibly due to limited growth of cover crops,” noted Helmers. “This is a reason long-term water quality monitoring is critical.”

    Participate in the live virtual field day at 1 p.m. on April 15 to learn more, by clicking this URL: Or visit and click “Join Live Virtual Field Day.”
    Or, join from a dial-in phone line by dialing 1-312-626-6799 or +1-646-876-9923 with meeting ID 914 1198 4892.
    The field day will be recorded and archived on the ILF website so that it can be watched at any time. The archive will be available at
    Participants may be eligible for a Certified Crop Adviser board-approved continuing education unit. Information about how to apply to receive the CEU (if approved) will be provided at the end of the live field day.

UAN28 Prices Surge 34% Since Last Month Amid Nitrogen Price Spike

According to retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the fourth week of March 2021, some fertilizer prices are still climbing at pretty good clip, while others have not increased as much as in recent weeks. Like last week, only seven of the eight major fertilizers were up a significant amount, which DTN designates as 5% or more.

Four of the major fertilizers continue to push considerably higher. UAN28 was up a mammoth 34% from last month and had an average price of $335/ton. UAN32 was 27% more expensive compared to the prior month and had an average price of $376/ton.  Anhydrous was up 26% looking back to last month and had an average price of $684/ton. 10-34-0 was 13% higher compared to the prior month and had average price of $599/ton.

The remaining four fertilizers were higher once again, but these fertilizers saw lesser price spikes compared to the previous weeks.  Urea was 8% more expensive looking back to last month and had an average price of $499/ton.  Both MAP and potash were 5% higher than last month. MAP had average price of $696/ton while potash was at $428/ton.  DAP was just up slightly compared back to the prior month. The phosphorus fertilizer had an average price of $616/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.54/lb.N, anhydrous $0.42/lb.N, UAN28 $0.60/lb.N and UAN32 $0.59/lb.N.

With retail fertilizer prices moving higher over recent months, all fertilizers are now higher in price from a year ago. Potash is now 16% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 28% higher, urea is 31% more expensive, UAN32 35% higher, anhydrous is 39% more expensive, UAN28 is 43% higher, DAP is 51% more expensive and MAP 60% is higher compared to last year.

USTR Report Cites Impediments to U.S. Dairy Exports

The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) urged the Biden Administration to work to eliminate foreign tariffs on and nontariff impediments to U.S. exports, following the release today by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) of the 2021 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers.

The annual report looks at progress made and challenges remaining on U.S. trade, investment and services in countries around the globe. Compiled from information from USTR, interagency partners and public stakeholders, this year’s report covers 65 countries and regions, including Arab League nations, the European Union (EU), key Asian markets and important Western Hemisphere destinations for U.S. dairy products.

USDEC and NMPF submitted comments on the major trade obstacles facing the U.S. dairy industry last October, pointing out that tariffs and nontariff barriers in many countries remain significant roadblocks to American dairy exports. Several of those concerns were incorporated in USTR’s report including dairy trade issues in Mexico, Canada, China and the EU, among others. In addition, USTR highlighted in its release that the key agricultural trade barriers captured in the NTE included “restrictions on the ability of U.S. producers to use the common names of the products that they produce and export”.  

“Exports are extremely important to the U.S. dairy industry, which shipped more than $6.5 billion of product to destinations worldwide in 2020,” said Krysta Harden, President and CEO of USDEC. “Obstacles to those exports negatively affect the economic well-being of America’s dairy farmers and jeopardize dairy processing jobs and workers throughout the supply chain who support our industry. These barriers must be removed.”

“We need USTR to continue pressing our trading partners to eliminate tariffs and nontariff barriers that restrict our dairy exports,” added Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF. “The best way to do that is by implementing new Free Trade Agreements and enforcing existing agreements.”

USDEC and NMPF in their comments focused on barriers in key dairy export markets such as Canada, China, the EU and Mexico. Among the bigger obstacles cited by the organizations were the misuse of geographical indications (GIs) and unscientific import requirements and mandates.

On GIs, for example, the EU has sought to effectively monopolize common cheese terms by attempting to prohibit American cheese makers from using names such as asiago, feta, gorgonzola, gruyere and parmesan and keep out imports of U.S.-made cheeses with those names, not only in EU nations, but in other countries as well.

The EU also is a leading offender in employing prescriptive requirements to limit imports, including dairy products, imposing, for example, specific animal disease oversight and documentation procedures and limiting the use of veterinary drugs and commonly used antimicrobials. These are the kinds of barriers USDEC and NMPF urge USTR to remove to ensure exports of U.S. dairy products are available to consumers around the world and to protect the millions of American jobs supported by the U.S. dairy industry.

Farmers Union Encouraged by American Jobs Plan

President Joe Biden today unveiled a blueprint to “create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure, and position the United States to out-compete China.”

Known as the American Jobs Plan, the proposal outlines a $2.25 trillion investment over eight years to repair our roads, bridges, and dams; modernize public transit and airports; expand broadband access; ensure safe drinking water in all communities; upgrade housing, businesses, schools, hospitals, and other buildings; and build resilience to climate change. To offset the cost, the plan would also amend the corporate tax code.

Though strengthening rural infrastructure has long been a priority for National Farmers Union (NFU), the issue has become a particular concern as the pandemic and climate change-related events have further stressed our systems and revealed deficiencies. In a statement, NFU President Rob Larew expressed encouragement about the plan:

“After decades of neglect, our nation’s infrastructure is barely holding together – a fact that has become especially apparent after the pandemic and extreme weather events disrupted the food supply chain, energy production, and other critical services. As the climate continues to change, our systems will inevitably be strained in other ways they are in no way prepared for.

“While much of the country could use infrastructure updates, rural communities have suffered disproportionately from underfunding. Those neighborhoods contain a larger portion of crumbling roads, bridges, and dams, and they also lack internet connectivity, affordable housing, and medical resources, all of which is holding residents back and contributing to rural flight.

"It is really encouraging to see these issues and others included in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan. We sincerely hope that this will set the stage for comprehensive improvements that strengthen rural communities, build resilience to climate change, and hasten economic recovery. In the coming weeks and months, we look forward to reviewing the plan and subsequent legislation in greater detail, including the pay-for provisions."

POET Expands into Plant-Based Consumer Products

Today, POET announced it has expanded its production of all-natural, 100% plant-based purified alcohol, which exceeds the highest global quality standards for alcohol. POET also unveiled a suite of bio-based products under a new label, POET Pure™. The combined actions will further extend the reach of one of the world’s largest bioethanol and bioproducts companies, bringing even more green consumer products to the market.

POET Biorefining – Leipsic will produce up to 35 million gallons of purified alcohol annually, which will include grain neutral spirits (GNS) and USP-grade alcohol. A second expansion at POET Biorefining – Alexandria is also scheduled to come online in Q2 2021.

Purified alcohol is a fundamental ingredient in thousands of well-known products ranging from foods and beverages, personal care products, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizers and industrial applications. POET’s purified alcohol is a beverage-grade grain neutral spirit that meets pharmaceutical-grade specifications as well.

“We are excited to announce POET’s continued expansion into plant-based consumer products,” said Jeff Broin, POET Founder and CEO. “As a worldwide leader in sustainable innovation with a footprint that spans more than 40 countries, POET has the unique ability to supply consumers across the globe with Earth-friendly bioproducts. We’re proud to say that bioethanol and its co-products are continually being utilized in more ways that will enable us to live cleaner, healthier lives while being better friends to our environment.”

POET’s all-natural purified alcohol is made from renewable resources grown on the surface of the Earth and can replace petroleum-based synthetic products found in a variety of consumer goods. It meets the highest standards for purity including the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) label standards and will meet the Global Food Safety Initiative’s Safe Quality Food (SQF) Program standards and kosher guidelines.

“POET’s purified alcohol was developed using advanced, top-tier technology to ensure the highest levels of quality and purity,” said Darin Cartwright, POET’s Vice President overseeing this new market development. “POET’s expansive commercial footprint and 30-plus years of experience in the bioethanol sector guarantees a reliable and competitive supply of top-quality products for our customers.”

In conjunction with the expansion, POET also unveiled that their suite of bioproducts will be unified under a new label, POET Pure. The POET Pure product line will include purified alcohol, renewable CO2 and renewable dry ice.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 3/26/2021

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending March 26, ethanol production rebounded 4.7%, or 43,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 965,000 b/d, equivalent to 40.53 million gallons daily. Production was 14.9% above the same week last year, when output started falling sharply due to the pandemic, but was 3.4% below the same week in 2019. The four-week average ethanol production rate increased 3.2% to 949,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.55 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks contracted 3.2% to an 18-week low of 21.1 million barrels, which was 17.9% below a year-ago and 12.0% below this time in 2019. Inventories dropped across all regions.

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, rose 3.2% to a 25-week high of 8.89 million b/d (136.30 bg annualized). Gasoline demand was 33.5% above a year ago but was 2.6% below the pre-pandemic level in 2019.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol jumped 5.1% to 882,000 b/d, equivalent to 13.52 bg annualized. This was the highest level since the week ending Mar. 13, 2020 yet remained 3.0% below 2019.

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the fifteenth consecutive week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of January 2021.)

Growth Energy: To Decarbonize Transportation, America Must Turn to Biofuels 

Following President Joe Biden’s announcement of a nationwide infrastructure package today, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor released this statement: 

"It’s disappointing that President Biden put forth a robust, $2 trillion infrastructure plan that overlooks the urgent need to expand access to low carbon biofuels, like plant-based ethanol. The President campaigned on a platform of using 'every tool at his disposal' to 'promote and advance renewable energy, ethanol, and other biofuels'. The details of the American Jobs Plan released today assuredly missed an opportunity to meet these promises.

“It is now even more crucial that any further legislation proposed by the Administration and Congress include a robust role for ethanol. Since 2010, biofuels like ethanol have been responsible for cumulative carbon dioxide savings of nearly 600 million metric tons in the U.S., or the equivalent of removing 130 million cars from the road, roughly half of our nation’s fleet.

“Earlier this year, a new report from the Rhodium Group, a leading independent climate analysis firm, found that biofuels are an essential element of our path to a net-zero future by 2050. Ethanol reduces life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from motor fuel by an average of 46 percent, as demonstrated most recently in groundbreaking research. Continuous innovation has fueled this environmental progress, allowing biofuel producers and farmers to ramp up production year after year, without expanding our environmental footprint. Biofuels can help us reduce emissions today, and the innovations being driven by our industry will continue to reduce the carbon intensity of fuels.

“We look forward to working with this Administration and our bipartisan Congressional champions to ensure that biofuels have a leading role in helping our nation upgrade its infrastructure and address climate change."   

IRFA Thanks Iowa Attorney General for Leading Effort to Support Renewable Fuel Standard Before the U.S. Supreme Court

Today Iowa’s Attorney General Tom Miller and seven other state attorneys general submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court urging the court to uphold a recent 10th Circuit Court decision concerning the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The bipartisan brief supports the 10th Circuit’s finding that EPA abused the RFS refiner exemption process in recent years. Refining companies appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw thanked Miller for his leadership in organizing the effort.

“We greatly appreciate the leadership of Attorney General Miller to bring together a large, bipartisan group of states to support the RFS and the letter of the law,” Shaw said. “This amicus brief sends a message loud and clear from eight state attorneys general that the 10th Circuit Court got it right. They clearly and accurately interpreted and upheld the RFS law. This brief encourages the U.S. Supreme Court to do the same.  Words matter and the RFS should be implemented as Congress intended. Today’s amicus brief is another step in getting the RFS back on track and growing demand for low-cost, low-carbon biofuels.”

In January of 2020, the 10th Circuit Court found that EPA illegally issued RFS exemptions to refineries that did not qualify. The verdict of the case is now being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Growth Energy and American Farm Bureau Federation Urge Supreme Court to Uphold Ruling Against Demand Destruction

Today, Growth Energy and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC, et al., v. Renewable Fuels Association, et al.  The joint brief defends a lower court’s ruling, which vacated refinery exemptions improperly granted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Following the brief filing, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor released the following statement:

“The outcome of this case before the Supreme Court will be a pivotal moment for the biofuels industry and the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Skor. “We are proud to provide additional support to the respondents, and to address two additional and critical considerations to the court: agency deference and the importance of providing a remedy for the billions of gallons of biofuel demand destroyed by unlawful exemptions. We urge the Supreme Court to affirm the 10th Circuit decision, reject attempts by a handful of oil refiners to avoid blending obligations, and ensure the integrity of the RFS is upheld nationwide.”

Growth Energy and AFBF’s brief outlines three main arguments. First, that the EPA’s interpretation of the small refinery exemption (SRE) eligibility provisions of the RFS is not entitled to deference on several grounds, not least of which are that it was not made in the exercise of EPA’s lawmaking authority and, in any case, no longer reflects EPA’s considered position.

Second, the trade groups reinforce the respondents’ arguments on the merits of the question presented to the Court, arguing that the text, structure, and purpose of the RFS require the Court to hold that the meaning of “extension” in the RFS statute requires continuous, uninterrupted exemptions as a condition of future SRE eligibility.  

Third, Growth Energy and AFBF call on the Court to provide meaningful judicial review by also providing an adequate remedy that requires refineries to comply with blending obligations that had been unlawfully waived.  

Biofuels Coalition Welcomes Amicus Briefs in Supreme Court RFS Case

The Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and American Coalition for Ethanol (collectively referred to as the “Biofuels Coalition”) thanked the states of Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, South Dakota, and Virginia for filing an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court today in support of the Coalition’s arguments in HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC, et al., v. Renewable Fuels Association, et al. The Coalition also expressed its appreciation to the other biofuel and agriculture groups that filed amicus briefings in support of the biofuels industry.
HollyFrontier and other refiners are asking the Supreme Court to overturn the January 2020 ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) v. EPA, in which the court found EPA exceeded its authority in granting certain small refinery waivers. Recognizing that “the renewable fuel and agriculture industries are the cornerstone of the economies of many states,” today’s brief from the states concludes that “the judgment of the court of appeals should be affirmed.”
“These industries—and the rural economies that they anchor—have grown over the past 16 years in reliance on the promise of the Renewable Fuel Standard,” according to the states’ brief. “And all States have an interest in the environmental benefits and energy independence that the RFS promises to achieve. But the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent trend of freely granting small-refinery exemptions has undermined these promises.”
Commenting on the amicus briefings filed today, RFA, NCGA, NFU, and ACE offered the following statement:

“The biofuels respondents appreciate the support of the broad array of interests that have been harmed by these unauthorized small refinery exemptions. As the filings make clear, the exemptions have had a devastating effect on rural economies and on the demand for all types of renewable fuels. We remain hopeful that the Supreme Court will affirm the Tenth Circuit’s well-reasoned decision, and we are very grateful that these states and other renewable fuel and agriculture interests have stepped up to endorse the decision as well.”

NBB Files Amicus Brief in Supreme Court SRE Case

Today, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the pending case HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC, et al. v Renewable Fuels Association et al. NBB argues that small refinery exemptions destroy demand and limit future growth of biodiesel and renewable diesel, which fulfill the requirements of several Renewable Fuel Standard categories.

NBB asks the Supreme Court to affirm the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in order "to respect the appropriate limits Congress placed on refiners' eligibility for small refinery exemptions, and to restore the conditions that allowed biomass-based diesel production to flourish, with all the attendant environmental, economic, and energy security benefits that Congress intended in enacting the RFS."

Kurt Kovarik, NBB's Vice President of Federal Affairs, added, "Biodiesel and renewable diesel producers appreciate EPA's recognition that exemptions are only temporary mechanisms to transition small refineries into the RFS program. The agency has a duty to fully account for any exemptions it grants and ensure that the RFS volumes it sets each year are fully met. Continued misuse of small refinery exemptions is a direct threat to the U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel industry and the 65,000 U.S. jobs and more than $17 billion in annual economic activity it supports. We look forward to working with EPA to get the RFS program back on track and support continued growth of the biodiesel industry."

NBB estimates that small refinery exemptions granted since 2017 directly destroyed demand for more than 550 million gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel in the RFS advanced biofuel category. The use of petroleum diesel in place of those gallons added 5.5 million metric tons of carbon to U.S. emissions. Using these better, cleaner fuels reduces carbon emissions by an average 74 percent compared to petroleum. It also reduces particulate matter and hydrocarbon emissions and associated health impacts, leading to lower healthcare costs.

Massey Ferguson RB 4160P Protec Baler Redefines Forage Production

AGCO Corporation (NYSE: AGCO), a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural machinery and precision ag technology, introduces the Massey Ferguson® RB 4160P Protec combo baler. Now, producers can focus on harvesting forage at optimum condition, preserving it at peak nutritive value for livestock — even when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.

With the Protec, AGCO continues its legacy of offering innovative hay and forage solutions. The unit combines all the features found on the RB Series silage balers with an integrated bale-wrapping unit, allowing producers to harvest and ensile high-moisture forages in one simple process.

“In climates with high humidity and lots of rain, putting up hay traditionally can be a challenge, so many forage growers are turning to baled silage,” says Dane Mosel, marketing product specialist for hay and forage at AGCO. “Not only do they avoid the drydown issues, but they can harvest their forage at the ideal growth stage for maximum nutritional value.”

Whether harvesting forage for a dairy or beef operation, the versatile RB 4160 Protec can handle any crop a grower wishes to bale. In addition to plastic-wrapped baleage, the machine can be used to mesh wrap forage before bagging as silage, as well as to bale dry hay, straw and even course material such as corn stover.

Individually wrapped bales offer feed quality and transport advantages

Capturing and preserving a forage’s nutritional value is one benefit of silage. Mosel says that by wrapping a silage bale as soon as it leaves the bale chamber, more protein and nutrients are retained for animals to consume.

“It takes less than a minute from the time forage enters the Protec’s pickup to the time the wrapped bale is released,” he says. “That preserves the nutritional quality the grower worked so hard to achieve in that crop. Feeding such premium-quality forage may actually lower ration costs because you don’t need to feed as much or need as many supplements.”

In 2020, AGCO hay and forage specialist Jessica Williamson conducted a field trial comparing forage quality from silage bales that were wrapped at varying intervals after baling. She found that delaying the wrapping process by as little as 24 hours led to a nearly 4 percent decrease in the availability of digestible proteins, as well as reductions in total digestible nutrients and volatile fatty acid score, an indicator of the success of the ensiling process.

Mosel notes that inline tube wrapping delays the ensiling process, because the bales must first be moved to the field edge or a central location. Air can be trapped in the space between tube-wrapped bales, reducing effective fermentation. Quality also may be lost when the tube is opened and oxygen is reintroduced to the bales inside.

“Once that seal is broken, the forage inside is susceptible to spoilage, especially when the weather gets warm,” he adds. “That’s not a concern when bales are wrapped individually. They also can be transported, stored or sold with relative ease.”

Commercial-strength engineering ensures reliability

Built with durability and long life in mind, the Protec baler has a robust chassis and rides on high-flotation tires selected to handle the machine’s 14,000-pound weight. The baler components — including the pickup, bale chamber and net-wrap system — are identical to the RB 4160V silage baler, which debuted at the 2018 Farm Progress Show and produces 4-by-5-foot bales.

“We have standard RBs in the field with 50,000 to 60,000 bale counts and still going strong, so these balers are built to handle whatever you can throw at them,” Mosel says.

With a tine-to-tine width of 73 inches, the cam-less pickup ensures that even heavy, wet forages feed smoothly into the bale chamber. Because there is no cam track, there are fewer moving parts, making the baler both quieter and more reliable with less maintenance and fewer adjustments.

The Protec baler features two banks of Xtracut™ hydraulically operated knives. Operators can select zero, eight, nine or 17 knives to attain forage cuts as small as 2.65 inches in length, allowing for improved forage digestibility. Once the crop is inside the bale chamber, the Constant Pressure System (CPS) ensures density stays consistent through the entire baling process.

“The denser the bale, the less oxygen when it’s wrapped, which improves the ensiling process,” Mosel says, adding that the Protec’s variable chamber forms bales that are 4 feet wide and 35.5 to 63 inches in diameter.

Wrapping is easy with Protec

With its unique design, the combination baler’s wrapping unit is rugged enough to easily wrap silage bales that could weigh nearly 3,000 pounds. Yet it’s compact enough for greater maneuverability in the field and ease when transporting and storing.

In addition to two rolls of net wrap, the RB 4160P can carry 14 rolls of 750mm or 500mm film on board. Three film pre-stretching options are available, depending on manufacturer recommendations.

“With that amount of mesh and film, the unit can wrap 224 bales in eight layers of plastic or up to 280 bales in six layers, so the Protec can run all day,” says Mosel, adding that the Easy Load System (ELS™) makes mesh roll replacement a cinch. “Sensors automatically detect if film breaks or if a roll runs out, and the baler compensates to ensure that bales are always completely wrapped.”

Innovative features maximize baling opportunities

The entire RB Series is engineered with productivity in mind. An operator can track bale formation, control cutter engagement and select knife banks all from the intuitive E-link Pro™ touch-screen monitor inside the tractor cab. The only reason to leave the seat would be to replenish net wrap and film.

Even a plugged pickup can be remedied from the cab thanks to the HydroFlex Control™ system with its hydraulically controlled floating floor.

“Should the baler get plugged, the operator can disengage the knives and lower the rear of the feed table floor from the in-cab monitor, allowing the crop to enter the bale chamber,” Mosel explains. “Then, the machine can be re-engaged and baling can continue. There’s no jumping out of the cab. No need to get hot, sweaty and dirty crawling under the baler.”

The baler comes standard with a rear-mounted camera, providing the operator with a view of the wrapping table and the ability to monitor bale transfer, wrapping and release. Maintenance is simple. The baler features easy-to-access grease banks and an automatic chain lube system.

“The RB 4160P Protec combo baler is an ideal tool for producers who want to maximize the return on investment from their forages and provide their livestock with the absolute best feed,” Mosel says. “It’s an all-in-one solution for forage.”

Tuesday March 30 Ag News

– Jerry Volesky, NE Extension

Late March and April is a key time period when prescribed burning of pasture and CRP lands occurs.  Within this time period, there are a limited number of days when weather conditions such as wind speed, direction, and humidity meet the required prescription for the unit that is being burned.  With this, having a detailed burn plan is needed to make sure the work is done safely.

The primary objective of most prescribed burns in Nebraska is to control eastern red cedar trees.  However, prescribed burns can also improve grass stands, prepare them for interseeding, reduce annual grassy and broadleaf weeds, enhance wildlife habitat, and improve forage quality.

Safe and controlled prescribed burns don’t just happen.  It takes preparation, planning, and an understanding of how fire reacts in certain weather conditions, with particular fuel loads, and on various types of topography.

Prescribed fire is useful on CRP or other fields that are overgrown with dead growth from previous years.  This mulch can smother plants and new seedlings, causing stands to thin.  Fire removes this mulch, enabling stands to thicken, and it improves wildlife habitat.

Timing of a prescribed fire is important.  For warm-season grasses, a good time to burn is when they just start to grow, usually mid-April to early May.  Burning then will result in rapid green-up and thickening of desirable warm-season plants, and reduce invading cool-season grasses.

Plan your prescribed burn carefully and be aware of the topography and other factors that will affect how the fire behaves.  Never burn unless weather conditions are within your burn prescription.  Plus, make sure your burn is legal.  You must obtain a burn permit from your local fire chief.  And finally, it is always a great benefit to have someone experienced in prescribed burning as part of your burning crew.

The First Quarterly Report on Levels of Negotiated Trade by Region under the Industry's 75% Rule

Elliott Dennis, Livestock Extension Economist, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Last year several pieces of legislation were introduced in both the US House of Representatives and US Congress whose principal aim was to increase the level of negotiated cash trade. The cattle industry responded to proposed legislation by creating a voluntary framework, known as the 75% rule, that includes cattle feeder and packing plant triggers based on levels of negotiated trade and marketplace participation. The overarching objective is similar to the introduced legislation – to increase the frequency and price transparency in all major cattle feeding and packing regions.

To review, the 75% rule framework functions off a series of minor and major triggers. There are eight minor triggers (four cattle feeding and four packer participation). Minor triggers are summed within a quarter and aggregated up from weekly thresholds where three minor triggers equal a major trigger. A major trigger occurring in two of four rolling quarters would prompt the industry to seek legislative action. This policy can be adjusted given updates from literature, industry, and qualifying Black Swan events or ad hoc events that disrupt the normal beef complex.

This voluntary framework went into effect on January 1, 2021. The end of March represents the first quarter to be analyzed. This article presents the first update on the regional performance of the industry framework as of March 29, 2021. A detailed analysis of the historical performance and potential considerations, from a previous ITCM article, can be found here. Each quarter updates will be made to monitor the current performance of the proposed industry framework and to reflect the most current market conditions.

Packer Silos

The packer participation portion of the plan is still under development. NCBA and the Meatpacking Industry have not made any further formal announcements about when or what minor triggers will look like.

Feeder Silos

A feeding region can fail in any given week a minor cattle feeding trigger occurs if less than 75% of the robust level of negotiated trade occurs in less than 75% of the weeks in a given quarter. I further assume that a cattle feeding region fails if it is non-reporting due to confidentiality. The four cattle feeding areas are 1) Nebraska-Colorado (NE-CO), 2) Texas-Oklahoma-New Mexico (TX-OK-NM), 3) Kansas (KS), and 4) Iowa-Minnesota (IA-MN).

Violations occurred in 9 of the 13 weeks for a total of 10 total violations. The NE-CO and IA-MN regions did not violate any weeks during Q1:2021. The TX-NM-OK region violated 4 of 13 weeks and the KS region violated 6 of the 14 weeks. Under the current proposed 75% rule, both the KS and TX-OK-MN regions would have quarterly violations and thus become minor triggers. Overall, across weeks and locations, 19.23% of location-weeks violated the 75% rule.

The industry’s “75% rule” was developed in response to proposed legislation to solve potential concerns about thinness in negotiated trade across different regions. In Q1:2021, two minors triggers would have occurred in the cattle feeding region. The packing region is still under discussion. Two of the largest factors in the policy are the number of weeks required to meet negotiated minimums and the percent of robust trade. In this quarter, the percent of robust trade was less of a concern than the total number of weeks required to meet robust trade minimums.

Northeast Nexus Project Receives $50,000 donation from Gardner Foundation

A charitable foundation based in Wakefield is contributing $50,000 to the project to build new agriculture facilities at Northeast Community College.

The Gardner Foundation was founded in 1990 when the Gardner Family sold their interest in the M.G. Waldbaum Co. in Wakefield. The Foundation provides charitable grants to worthy tax-exempt organizations, and the Foundation’s vision has benefited recipients across eastern Nebraska, northwest Iowa and beyond. Trustees are Leslie Bebee, Kirk Gardner and David Gardner.

Bebee, president of the Gardner Foundation, said, “Agriculture is so important to our area and we are proud to support agriculture education and future agriculture leaders. We hope by investing in our youth they will continue in the agriculture Industry and farm operations in Nebraska for many years to come. Today's youth are the future of tomorrow.”

Dr. Tracy Kruse, Northeast vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation, expressed her appreciation for the support of the Gardner Foundation.

“The Gardner Foundation investment in the Nexus project at Northeast will help provide cutting edge instruction for students in our 13 areas of agricultural study,” she said. “These students are the future of northeast Nebraska, returning to their hometowns as the next generation of farmers and ranchers and as employees of businesses that support production agriculture.”

The Nexus project includes a new veterinary technology clinic and classroom building, a combined farm operations and large animal handling facility, a new feedlot and lagoon, and other typical farm structures. These new ag facilities are currently under construction near the Chuck M. Pohlman Ag Complex, 2301 E. Benjamin Ave., and will replace a 100-year-old repurposed dairy barn. Construction on the project began in April 2020 and is expected to be completed by fall 2021. Progress can be viewed in real time at

The funding for the agriculture facilities will come from the College’s commitment of $10 million, as well as external fundraising to fill the gap. The total cost for construction, equipment, technology and furnishings is $22.3 million. The College has raised enough funds for construction; however, more is needed for equipment, technology and furnishings, so fundraising continues for the Nexus campaign.

In August 2019, the Acklie Charitable Foundation (ACF) announced a $5 million lead gift to the Nexus project. ACF was founded by the late Duane Acklie and Phyllis Acklie, both Madison County natives and graduates of Norfolk Junior College, a predecessor institution of Northeast Community College.

For more information on the Nexus Campaign, visit

Extension offering free suicide prevention training

An upcoming online training will teach participants how to recognize and respond to potential signs of crisis and suicidal behavior.

Life can be stressful in the best of times. For Nebraskans, the last few years have been particularly challenging. The recent disasters and the pandemic have changed how we work, juggle family and finances, manage our health and the health of our loved ones. These challenges can contribute to being overwhelmed and increase one’s anxiety.

In response to addressing life’s uncertainty, Nebraska Extension will offer an online “Question. Persuade. Refer.” training. QPR is a suicide prevention program that teaches participants three steps to help save a life from suicide.

An individual who is trained in first aid, CPR or the Heimlich maneuver can help save lives. And people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade and refer someone to get help.

This 90-minute training will be held online, via Zoom, on April 22 at 11 a.m. Central time. There is no cost to attend the training, but registration is required at The class is limited to 30 participants.

This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2019-77028-30436.

Aggie Alumni Day is June 26

NCTA Dean Larry Gossen, Ph.D.

This summer, Aggie graduates and friends will convene Saturday, June 26 for a unique gathering of classmates and friends at the campus of the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture.

The “double” reunion of the Aggie Alumni Association features a 50-year recognition for the Classes of 1970 and 1971.

After postponement of 2020 events due to the COVID pandemic, Aggie Alumni decided to highlight honor classes in 5-year increments, beginning in ’70 and ‘71.

The gathering will be a daytime event, with a noon luncheon at the NCTA Student Activity Center (old gym also known as The Barn). Come and join us!

“We have so much to celebrate, with the ability to gather again in larger groups and celebrate the long history of our alma mater,” says Ann Ramm Bruntz, Class of ’71, who is president of the Aggie Alumni Association.

“After a year of few public events across the state, I’m really looking forward to seeing my UNSTA classmates and friends of NCTA.“

Ann and her husband, David, will be celebrating 50 years since their graduation from the University of Nebraska School of Technical Agriculture. The two met as college students in Curtis.

A native of Stuart, Nebraska, Ann Ramm studied veterinary technology at UNSTA. David Bruntz of Friend, Nebraska, also in the Class of ’71, earned his associate degree in production agriculture. The pair graduated in May and were married that fall so, indeed, this year of 2021 has extra significance for them.

The gathering of June 26 will be enjoyable for me, as well, since it will be the first time I have opportunity to meet many of the alumni.

June 15 marks my first-year anniversary as NCTA’s new dean. Fay and I have met several alumni in the past year. I, too, look forward to having in-person conversations, and sharing the hospitality of our beautiful campus.

Gathering friends

The Aggie Alumni Association represents college graduates from UNSTA and NCTA, as well as the high school alumni from the Nebraska School of Agriculture and University of Nebraska School of Agriculture.

For those unfamiliar with the school and campus, it was founded by the Nebraska Legislature and started construction in 1912 as a regional high school.  Primarily, it served grades 9th through 12th for students from counties or towns without high schools. NSA opened its doors at Agriculture Hall in September 1913.

Currently, we communicate with nearly 4,500 individuals on our mailing list. These are a combination of college and high school graduates. Recently, I authored my first NCTA Dean’s Newsletter sent to alumni and partners and it was received in most mailboxes last week. Did you receive yours?

We know it’s difficult to keep current mailing data in any sector, even with our largely agricultural base. So, if you are reading this and did not receive a newsletter, please know that we do our best to reach you.

Find the most recent newsletter on the Aggie Alumni Page at

At the website is a convenient form to update your contact information so that I can stay in touch with you.  To request a printed newsletter and gain further details about June 26 Alumni Day, email

All alumni and NCTA friends are invited to attend.  The Aggie Alumni board and officers are finalizing details and will post those at the web site. Please save the date of Saturday, June 26 for Aggie Alumni Day.  I hope to meet you in Curtis!

Soil Management Land Valuation Conference to Return in May

The longest-running conference offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will be offered May 19 via Zoom.

The Soil Management Land Valuation Conference – now in its 93rd year, was canceled last year due to COVID-19 concerns. The conference returns with timely updates for farm managers, rural appraisers, real estate brokers and others interested in the Iowa land market.

“The conference offers networking opportunities for those who have an interest in agricultural land, land management and land valuation,” said Wendong Zhang, assistant professor and extension economist at Iowa State. “Additionally, participants have an opportunity through an online survey before the conference to ‘gaze into their crystal balls,’ and will be asked to provide their estimates of future land values in Iowa and corn and soybean prices via an online survey distributed before the conference.”

The conference is sponsored by the Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and ISU Extension and Outreach and will be held virtually via Zoom on Wednesday, May 19, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Seven current issues and their implications to soil management and land valuation will be discussed. The issues are: agricultural policy priorities in 2021, presented by leading congressional staffers; agricultural carbon credits program for farmers; the weather outlook and its impacts on agricultural production; how Coalition to Support Iowa Farmers is helping livestock producers; agricultural market outlook; the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on land and asset values; and key developments in agricultural law and regulations, such as the Waters of the United States rule and estate tax reforms.

“We are really excited to bring this conference back and although this year we are offering it through Zoom, participants will still have the chance to talk about the issues affecting land values and farm management,” said Zhang.

Registration, the agenda and a full line of speakers are all available on the event website

Participants can receive six hours of real estate and appraiser continuing education credits from the Iowa Real Estate Commission and the Real Estate Appraiser Examining Board, respectively. There will also be three $50 gift card giveaway opportunities for the participants throughout the day.

New publication summarizes potential for African swine fever virus to spread through feed

Eight years of extensive research, including work at Kansas State University, has led to a disquieting scenario for swine producers: Feed and feed ingredients could potentially serve as means for the introduction and transmission of foreign animal diseases of swine.

Megan Niederwerder, assistant professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, recently published an overview on the significance of the collective feed research related to swine viruses and specifically to African swine fever virus. "Risk and Mitigation of African Swine Fever Virus in Feed" was published March 18 in the journal Animals. Research funding was provided by the National Pork Board.

"Since the 2013 introduction of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus into the United States, researchers have investigated the potential role of feed and feed ingredients for the transboundary spread of swine diseases," Niederwerder said. "Feed ingredients are commodities traded worldwide, and the U.S. imports thousands of metric tons each year from countries where circulating foreign animal diseases have been identified."

African swine fever, or ASF, is the most significant foreign animal disease threat to U.S. swine production, Niederwerder said. The primary goal of negative countries, such as the U.S., is to prevent ASF entry as there are no vaccines or treatments available.

"The recent introduction of ASF into historically negative countries over the last few years has heightened the risk for further spread," Niederwerder said. "Investigations in my laboratory have characterized the stability of the African swine fever virus in feed ingredients subjected to transoceanic shipment conditions, the virus's transmissibility through the natural consumption of plant-based feed, and the mitigation potential of certain feed additives to inactivate African swine fever virus in feed."

Niederwerder's latest review describes the current knowledge of feed as a risk for swine viruses and the opportunities for mitigating the risk to protect U.S. pork production and the global swine population from African swine fever and other foreign animal diseases.

"Epidemiological evidence has linked contaminated feed with African swine fever virus field outbreaks in both Europe and Asia," Niederwerder said. "A rapidly expanding geographic distribution of African swine fever virus continues to increase the risk of U.S. incursion. With economic losses of African swine fever virus introduction into the U.S. swine herd estimated at more than $15 billion due to production losses and market disruption, the importance of preventing entry cannot be overstated."

Niederwerder's article looks at potential ways to reduce African swine fever virus risk through feed biosecurity as well as through both physical and chemical mitigation protocols, such as heat treatment, storage time, and antimicrobial feed additives.

"It is critically important that feed mitigation strategies continue to be investigated and adopted to reduce the risk of ASFV or other foreign animal disease entry through this route," Niederwerder said.  

USDA: Mexico Plan to Ban GMO Corn Imports Doesn't Apply to Animal Feed

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that a Mexican plan to ban imports of genetically modified corn would apply to grain used for human food products, not livestock feed, based on recent talks he had with Mexican Agriculture Secretary Victor Villalobos Arambula.

Vilsack said limiting the ban to food products makes a big difference to U.S. farmers, who have long relied on Mexico as a top export market.

"It's not going to have as great an impact as it would if it was everything all at once all now," he said at a virtual event hosted by the National Press Club.

Vilsack said U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai has also addressed the plan with Mexico and that there is a process under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) for raising such issues.

"I am confident that these conversations will continue to be raised and concerns will be voiced," Vilsack said.

"As they are, there are processes that could potentially be used."

Mexico's agriculture ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mexico late last year published an executive order that seeks to ban in three years the use of GMO corn for human consumption, but did not define what products would be included.

The government has pledged to substitute imports with local production by 2024.

Senate Bill to Ensure HOS, ELD Rules Work for Ag Haulers

Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) Monday announced they have reintroduced the Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act, bipartisan legislation to reform the Hours of Service (HOS) and Electronic Logging Device (ELD) regulations at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Further, the bill would delay enforcement of the ELD rule until the required reforms are formally proposed by the Transportation Secretary. This bill follows Hoeven's successful efforts through the appropriations process to secure delays of the ELD rule in Fiscal Years (FY) 2018-21.

"We've worked to provide needed certainty and flexibility to our agricultural haulers under the HOS and ELD regulations so that they can get their products to market safely and efficiently," said Hoeven. "This legislation builds on our efforts, establishing a process to address unnecessary burdens under these regulations and advance reforms based on the input of agriculture producers, while also ensuring roadway safety is maintained."

"It is important that we maintain safe roads while also recognizing the unique flexibility needed to move Colorado's agricultural products to markets," said Bennet. "I look forward to working with Senator Hoeven and our colleagues to give farmers and ranchers a seat at the table as we push for more sensible rules around the transportation of agricultural goods."

Specifically, the Hoeven-Bennet bill would establish a working group at DOT comprised of representatives from the transportation and agriculture industries, transportation safety representatives and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The working group would be required to consider the impact of existing HOS and ELD rules on the commercial transport of livestock, insects and agricultural commodities and develop guidelines on reforming these rules. Within 120 days of receiving the working group's report, the Transportation Secretary must propose regulatory changes to the HOS and ELD regulations, taking into account the group's findings and recommendations.

In addition to Hoeven and Bennet, the legislation is cosponsored by Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), James Risch (R-Idaho), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), and Roger Marshall (R-Kans.).

The Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act is supported by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), United States Cattlemen's Association (USCA), Livestock Marketing Association (LMA), American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the American Honey Producers Association (AHPA), The American Horse Council, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), the National Turkey Federation and the National Aquaculture Association.

Farm Bureau Opposes Proposals to Eliminate Stepped-Up Basis and Impose Capital Gains Taxes

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall today commented on the recent proposals by several lawmakers to tax unrealized capital gains at death and roll back the stepped-up basis on those capital gains.

“Taxing capital gains when a loved one passes away would have a devastating impact on farm and ranch families, even more so if the stepped-up basis tool is taken out of the toolbox. Stepped-up basis encourages families to grow their businesses and pass them on to another generation, and elimination could force those families to sell their farms just to pay the taxes.

“The value of many farms is tied up in land and equipment. Cash flow on most farms is much too small to pay large capital gains taxes. These taxes would cause further consolidation in agriculture with small farms more likely to be forced out of business by the tax liability.

“I’m confident that’s not what Congress intends. AFBF urges lawmakers to discard these misguided proposals.”

Study Shows Americans Are Wasting Less Food

New research has shown the lifestyle changes Americans are making to reduce food waste: three-quarters (76%) say they are now more likely to shop more often and in smaller quantities, to avoid having to throw away unwanted or spoiled food.

A similar number (74%) are now likely to buy more frozen food for the same reason, and fully half (50%) suggest they are now prepared to buy the 'ugly' fruit and vegetables that so often sit unwanted on the supermarket shelf. Male shoppers (56%) are more likely than women (46%) to accept those less attractive foodstuffs.

When asked where the responsibility for food waste primarily lies, US shoppers pointed the finger at food producers: 41% said it was down to farmers and 42% said the responsibility lies with manufacturers such as grain firms and pesticide makers. The focus is clearly on the food sector to demonstrate it is doing all it can to reduce the amount of discarded food.

By comparison, less than a quarter (22%) said it was consumers' responsibility to reduce food waste by changing their own behaviors and shopping habits.

The survey of more than 1,000 US adults was commissioned by Proagrica, a global provider of technology solutions for the agriculture and animal health industries.

It also highlighted the growing number of Americans who take ethical considerations into account when buying their food. More than a third (38%) say the ethical credentials of the retailers and producers (e.g., certification, where food is sourced, field to fork tracking) influence their purchase choices whenever possible.

Project will groom undergrads for agricultural science careers

Barley is important for more than beer. A UC Riverside geneticist has won $1.7 million to study how one of the world’s staple foods might survive climate change.

The National Science Foundation CAREER Award to Daniel Koenig, an assistant professor in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, will reveal details about genetic adaptations barley has made in the past to enable its survival over thousands of years. These details will also help steer its future as weather becomes more extreme.

In addition to alcoholic beverages, barley is used as a major crop for feeding both animals and humans. It ranks fourth among cereals in terms of total world production. After it was domesticated as a crop over 10,000 years ago, it spread rapidly to environments as different as hot, dry Egypt and cold, wet Minnesota.

Koenig, who studies plant evolution, wonders how the plant has been able to successfully adapt to these wildly different places.

“Though we have the tools to compare the DNA of plants collected in different countries, our challenge is understanding which genes evolved in response to weather and which evolved over time in response to other pressures, like diseases,” Koenig said.

Since only one generation of a plant can be grown per year, the process of observing adaptation real-time is lengthy. To speed up progress, Koenig’s lab is making use of an experiment started in the 1920s. Breeders took barley varieties collected from all over the world and have grown them over the last century in Davis, Calif., and Bozeman, Mont.

“We can analyze the genes of these varieties, watch as they continue to adapt, and identify the genes that might be responsible for their survival,” Koenig said.

The NSF CAREER Award is a competitive grant for promising new faculty to help them improve their integration of research and teaching. Koenig is going to use the award to train undergraduates to compare genes from the beginning of the 1920s experiment with those from today.

Students will learn to use both traditional molecular biology and newer, computational techniques for this project. The process of identifying survival genes in barley can also be repeated for other crops, helping to ensure the future of other foods as well.

“This grant will provide an opportunity for students, especially those who grew up in urban environments, to learn about agriculture and give them the basis for possible careers in agricultural science,” Koenig said.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Monday March 29 Ag News - This week is Grain Bin Safety Week

 Grain Bins are the Focus of Annual Safety Week

Nebraska farmers continue to be good stewards of the land, producing more bushels with less resources. Because of this increased efficiency, on-farm grain storage is on the rise. With additional grain bins on farms and on commercial sites, there is a greater risk of fatal accidents. The checkoff organizations of Nebraska’s corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum industries (and their respective associations), remind farmers and agricultural workers to be safe in and around grain bins during the fifth annual “Stand Up 4 Grain Safety Week.”

“Stand Up 4 Grain Safety Week” takes place March 29 through April 2 and is organized through an alliance between the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Grain and Feed Association, the Grain Elevator and Processing Society and the Grain Handling Safety Council.

“Farming is one of the most hazardous industries we have in the United States,” said David Bruntz, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from Friend. “We often hear of unimaginable accidents in agriculture because there are a lot of moving parts and large pieces of machinery to work with. Nebraska Corn regularly reminds farmers to take a second for safety, because many accidents and fatalities can be prevented with just a little added caution.”

There are several hazards associated with grain bins, including engulfments and entanglements. An engulfment happens when grain flows downward and forms a funnel, pulling a person down to the point of full immersion. An entanglement could occur when farmers or agricultural employees work in close proximity to grain augers. The danger in operating an auger is getting caught in a moving part.
“As we look at engulfments and entanglements, there’s a common theme, which is they both happen quickly,” said Eugene Goering, chairman of the Nebraska Soybean Board and farmer from Columbus. “The risk is high for both young and old, those new to the occupation and those who are seasoned farmers. It’s essential everyone working in and around grain bins educates themselves about proper safety protocol.”

With the proper safety procedures, grain bin accidents are preventable. It is important to follow all the safety rules when it comes to working with grain stored in bins. Here are a few grain bin safety tips to keep in mind when you are working with stored grain:
-    Use inspection holes or grain level markers to understand what is happening inside the bin. Use a pole from outside the bin to break up grain bridges.
-    You should enter a grain bin only if absolutely necessary. If you must get into the bin, use a body harness secured to the outside of the bin. Have at least two people watching over you as you enter and work inside the bin.
-    Use hand signals to communicate—and make sure everyone you are working with knows what those signals are.

“We know farmers are anxious to get back in the fields this spring, so many are now busy working with their previous crops stored on-farm,” said Bob Delsing, chairman of the Nebraska Wheat Board and farmer from Hemingford. “By dedicating a week to the importance of grain bin safety, we can hopefully serve as that friendly reminder to always be prepared, knowledgeable and responsible when working in and around grain bins.”

Throughout the week, Nebraska’s corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum checkoffs and their respective associations will be sharing grain bin safety tips from their social media channels. More information can also be found at

“We know farming is a risky business but through proper safety procedures, we can greatly reduce the chance for injury or even death,” said Mike Baker, chairman of the Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board and farmer from Trenton. “A few extra moments of caution far outweigh possible accidents.”

‘Stand Up 4 Grain Safety Week’ offers daily virtual events to raise awareness about grain handling and storage hazards

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Grain Elevator and Processing Society (GEAPS) and the Grain Handling Safety Council (GHSC) today launched its fifth annual, weeklong safety outreach effort – “Stand Up 4 Grain Safety Week” – to help raise awareness about grain handling and storage hazards and provide safety education and training.

Throughout the Stand Up 4 Grain Safety Week, which is March 29-April 2, 2021, companies may participate by providing a focused activity and/or toolbox talk for employees on any hazard-prevention measure. Featured topics that NGFA and its safety partners will highlight throughout the week include: near-miss reporting, grain quality, bin safety and emergency action plans.  

“The past year has been notable – to say the least – when it comes to health and safety in all aspects of our lives,” said NGFA President and CEO Mike Seyfert in a Stand Up 4 Grain Safety Week kickoff video that aired March 29. “We’ve learned that small changes can make a big impact. Stand Up 4 Grain Safety Week features virtual events and resources focusing on small changes that can reduce unnecessary hazards and potentially save lives of family members, friends and colleagues who handle and store our grain. We encourage all companies to participate in this effort and show their continued commitment to the health and safety of their employees.”

Participating companies are encouraged to register for daily virtual events throughout the week and fill out information about their safety activities on, which provides training materials and a certificate of participation. Participants can share safety success stories on social media with #StandUp4GrainSafety.

The campaign is hosted under the auspices of the “Alliance” between NGFA, OSHA, GEAPS and GHSC.

The NGFA, through funding provided by the National Grain and Feed Foundation, has a suite of free safety resources available to use through the week on


For the week ending March 28, 2021, topsoil moisture supplies rated 5% percent very short, 14% short, 70% adequate, and 11% surplus, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 8% very short, 30% short, 58% adequate, and 4% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 5% very poor, 12% poor, 45% fair, 36% good, and 2% excellent.

Weekly reports will begin April 5th for the 2021 season.

Nebraska Dairy Industry Convened in Columbus for Annual Convention & Dairy Farms Awarded

Hundreds of representatives from across the dairy industry convened at the Ramada Inn by Wyndham Columbus Hotel and Conference Center in Columbus, Nebraska on March 18th, 2021 to participate in the 2021 Nebraska Dairy Convention.
The convention opened with a trade show where attendees learned from industry experts on various topics including a session on Transition Planning with Thiele Dairy. A panel discussion with members from Midwest Dairy over lunch outlined checkoff’s key strategies to drive sales and trust.

The afternoon included the Nebraska State Dairy Association (NSDA) annual meeting, a session on Improving Forage Quality for Cows with Dr. Paul Kononoff, and a Dairy Girl Network event. Convention attendees enjoyed an ice cream bar, wine and cheese reception, and an evening banquet and awards ceremony recognizing producers and key industry people in Nebraska. To conclude the day, attendees heard from Krysta Harden, CEO of the Dairy Girl Network Event.

The following producers and key industry people were recognized as 2021 Award Winners.
    Nebraska Dairy Princess was awarded Lindsey Marotz
    Philip H. Cole Dairy Industry Person of the Year was awarded to Bill Thiele of Clearwater, Nebraska
    Friend of the Industry Award was awarded to Governor Pete Ricketts
    Holstein Association Service to Industry Award was awarded to Roger Henrichs

Somatic Cell Count Quality Awards
    First Place -Double Dutch Dairy
    Second Place- Tuls Dairy South
    Third Place -Tuls Dairy North

Herd Production Award -Holstein Division
    First Place- Steffview Dairy
    Second Place- Roger Sprakel
    Third Place- Neal & Sharlee Hochstein

Herd Production Award- Cross Bred Division
    First Place- Crook Dairy
    Second Place- Classic Dairy Inc.
    Third Place-Temme Agri Business        

For more information on how to be an exhibitor at next year’s convention, please contact Kris Bousquet at 402.525.3199,, or visit and fill out a membership application.


– Todd Whitney, NE Extension

Now that small grains and cover crops are greening up, this is the time for finalizing your forage grazing plans.  Small grains provide ample grazing opportunity. For every 1,000 pounds of forage dry matter production, there is potential beef gains of approximately 100 pounds.

Whether growing small grains or cover crops, grazing will be maximized if livestock producers wait until the plants are 4 to 8 inches tall before starting the grazing process. Then, stock the fields with enough animals to maintain plant heights between 6 and 12 inches. Flash grazing or dividing fields into smaller paddocks may prevent over grazing plants below the 6-inch target plant height.

For those wanting to graze wheat and rye and still harvest grain from the same fields; stop grazing the plants before they reach first hollow stem or jointing development. Grazing beyond the jointing stage may decrease grain yields 1% to 5% each day that grazing continues.  This is because the grazing animals may be consuming grain heads in the immature tillers.

Timing of growth stage varies each year and depends on factors such as fall planting date, variety and Spring soil conditions.  First hollow stem occurs about a week prior to jointing when the immature head rises in the tiller above the soil surface.  The jointing stage can be identified by feeling with your fingers a bump or joint on the tiller stems as you move your fingers up the stem from the soil surface.  Generally, you will want to focus our growth stage assessment using the larger primary tillers.

With careful management such as delayed grazing, the cool-season grazing can be extended through mid-June.

NARD Welcomes New Board Members

In 2021, The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) welcomes four new directors – Joel Hansen, Mason Hoffman, Gene Kelly and Luke Peterson.

Joel Hansen, Lower Elkhorn NRD (Wayne, Nebraska)

Hansen brings a unique perspective to the board as the Street & Planning Director for the City of Wayne for more than 25 years. Hansen has served on the Lower Elkhorn NRD board for 14 years and represents the board on the Wau-Col Rural Water System Advisory Committee. He also manages his family’s farm, which includes row crops, a restored prairie, and several tree plantings.

Mason Hoffman, Little Blue NRD (Roseland, Nebraska)
Hoffman has served on the Little Blue NRD Board since January 2016 and has been on the executive committee since 2019. During the last five years, he has been involved on the Water and Projects committees. He has an associate degree in ag business and farms in south-central Nebraska. Hoffman and his wife of 11 years, Michelle, have three children, Mara, Natalie and Theodore.

Gene Kelly, Upper Elkhorn NRD (O’Neill, Nebraska)
Kelly has served on the Upper Elkhorn NRD Board eight years and is currently on the Water Resources Committee. Prior to joining the NARD board, he served as the alternate delegate for several years. Mostly retired from the insurance and investment industries, Kelly volunteers his time on the Holt County 4-H Foundation Board, Holt County Planning and Zoning Board, Summerfest Rodeo Committee and is a member of the Lion’s Club. Kelly and his wife, Wendy, have three children, Justin, Quinn and Quana.

Luke Peterson, Lower Platte South NRD (Lincoln, Nebraska)
Peterson is currently on his first term with the Lower Platte South NRD Board after being elected in 2018. In his short time on the board, he has served on the Urban, Finance & Planning, and Recreation, Forestry & Wildlife subcommittees, and is currently on the Executive Committee. Peterson also serves on the board for the Nebraska Red Ribbon Coalition, a statewide advisory group for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for HIV/AIDS-related services that also combats HIV/AIDS societal stigma.

The NARD Board consists of representation from each of the Nebraska’s 23 Natural Resources Districts (NRDs). The board meets five times throughout the year and helps guide the association and NRDs in decision making that protects lives, property and the future of Nebraska’s natural resources. The NARD Risk Pool Board governs the health insurance program for NRD employees. Since its inception in 2007, the program has held the average annual cost increases for health premium rates below 4.5 percent.

The NARD Board of Directors includes:
    Jim Bendfeldt, Central Platte NRD
    Scott Berndt, Upper Niobrara White NRD
    Paul Bethune, Upper Big Blue NRD
    *Jim Eschliman, Lower Loup NRD (President)
    *Oval Gigstad, Nemaha NRD (Vice President)
    *Martin Graff, Middle Niobrara NRD (Secretary-Treasurer)
    Joel Hansen, Lower Elkhorn NRD
    Robert Hilger, Lower Platte North NRD
    Mason Hoffman, Little Blue NRD
    *Jim Johnson, South Platte NRD (Information & Education Committee Chair)
    Steven Kelley, Lower Big Blue NRD
    Gene Kelly, Upper Elkhorn NRD
    Marcel Kramer, Lewis & Clark NRD
    Marvin Liewer, Lower Niobrara NRD
    Terry Martin, Upper Republican NRD
    *James Meismer, Twin Platte NRD (Legislative Committee Chair)
    Roger Nelson, Lower Republican NRD
    Luke Peterson, Lower Platte South NRD
    Ryan Reuter, North Platte NRD
    *Larry Reynolds, Tri-Basin NRD (Past President)
    Judy Ridenour, Upper Loup NRD
    Shane Rippen, Middle Republican NRD
    Richard Tesar, Papio-Missouri River NRD
*Executive Committee

The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD), the trade association for Nebraska's 23 Natural Resources Districts (NRD), works with individual districts to protect lives, property and the future of Nebraska’s natural resources. NRDs are unique to Nebraska, and act as local government entities with broad responsibilities to protect Nebraska’s natural resources. Major Nebraska river basins form the boundaries of the 23 NRDs, enabling districts to respond to local conservation and resource management needs. Learn more about Nebraska’s NRDs at

Innovative Ag Research

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer

Every state is home to an industry that drives its economy forward. In Hawaii, that’s tourism. In Massachusetts, many exceptional hospitals attract first-rate doctors. And in Michigan, the automobile industry employs nearly 291,000 people across the state.

In Nebraska, that industry is agriculture. Our farmers and ranchers grow produce and raise livestock that is among the world’s best, and they feed millions of people around the country and the world while they’re at it. Our international ag exports have risen in recent years, too, providing nearly $7 billion for our economy in 2018 alone. All told, agriculture supports one in four Nebraska jobs and provides one-third of our economic output each year.

It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that Nebraska is a leader in agricultural research. The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln takes advantage of Nebraska’s diverse range of climates and growing conditions to conduct experiments on everything from food science to soil ecosystems to water quality, and their findings are crucial for Nebraska ag producers looking for new best practices.

That transition from lab to field is especially smooth for IANR because many of their scientists also teach at UNL. They spend some of their time on research and some of their time with Nebraska’s next generation of farmers and ranchers – the perfect combination for a state that boasts both a booming ag industry and a thriving university system.

IANR works with Nebraska Extension to offer this excellent education to people all across the state, not just those who live near a college campus. Extension does some of its best work on ag issues, too, which makes them invaluable to our producers and our economy.

Extension and IANR also partner with 4-H to bring these same skills to Nebraska’s youth. Over 140,000 Nebraskans between the ages of 5 and 18 can get hands-on ag experience through 4-H and Nebraska Extension, whether they live in a small town or in the middle of a city like Lincoln.

IANR’s work spans many other fields. One of them is food security, and through the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute, they are quite literally changing the world. This program combines Nebraska’s prosperous ag industry with the world-class research coming out of UNL to develop new ways to help other countries make their food and water supplies more secure. One of the Daugherty Institute’s most impressive initiatives is the Nebraska Water Center, where UNL faculty come together with outside researchers to help make sure people everywhere have access to a safe and reliable source of water.

Nebraska Innovation Campus is also doing excellent work. Innovation Campus is right next door to city campus, and the office space they provide gives some of Nebraska’s most creative entrepreneurs the chance to work alongside the best researchers UNL has to offer.

The Food for Health Center is just one of Innovation Campus’ many remarkable programs. Here, UNL professors Andrew Benson and Robert Hutkins use their research on digestive health to develop hybrid crops and foods that can fight back against illnesses like cancer and heart disease. Their work has helped Nebraska become a world leader in this important field.

Nebraska’s agriculture industry is among the best in the country, and our state is home to remarkable cutting-edge research and dynamic growth. With both of these things happening side by side, the future is exciting for Nebraska.

Pay Attention to Calving Distribution

Olivia Amundson – SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist

Producers may be knee-deep in calving, or for others it is just around the corner. However, this is a good time to start thinking about the upcoming breeding season and subsequent calving season. The current calving season provides an opportunity to decide if the current calving situation is working well, or if management changes are needed to achieve the desired calving season.
Most producers keep track of calving records in some fashion. Whether recording in a Red Book, notebook paper, scrap paper, your hand or an app, most producers have an idea of their number of calves born and when. These records can then help determine a calving distribution, and calving distribution can help determine succeeding management strategies.

What Is Calving Distribution?
Calving distribution is a measure of number of calves born in 21-day intervals. The length of the estrous cycle of a cow is 21-days; therefore, she has the opportunity to become pregnant every 21 days. Typical benchmarks for an efficient calving distribution are:  63% of the mature cow herd should calve within the first 21 days, 87% by 42 days and 96% by 63 days of the calving season.  If less than 60% of the herd is calving in the first 21-days and greater than 25% calving in the second 21-days, then re-evaluation of the herd and management strategies need consideration. More information on calving benchmarks can be found in the article,  Calving Season Benchmarks.

Why is Calving Distribution Important?
Calving distribution is a measure of efficiency and management within a herd. Research has demonstrated that heifers born earlier in the calving season are more likely to be cycling at breeding, have greater pregnancy rates and more of those females will calve in the first 21-days of their initial calving season. Steer calves born in the first 21-day period had increased weaning weights, more ideal marbling scores and overall more-positive effects on feedlot and carcass performance. Refer to  Tightening up Calving Season  and  Bunch the Cow Herd  for additional information on the benefits of a defined calving season.

While benefits on progeny are beneficial, calving distribution also helps allocate resources, specifically feed and labor needed during the calving season. This provides more focus at time of calving, which can decrease mortality and disease in calves. Focus can then be placed on the cow to ensure that she is being fed appropriately to maintain or increase body condition score prior to the subsequent breeding season.

Cows that calve late or had a traumatic calving will be at risk of being open the following year. By focusing on calving distribution, it allows management decisions to be made that will focus on maintaining herd numbers with the most fertile, healthy, efficient cows. Allowing late calvers and those that have difficulty calving to fall out of the herd can increase overall herd performance.

Keeping Records
Keeping records is the start to determining a calving distribution. Producers who don’t write down calvings can track distribution by frequently counting the number of calves on the ground. This can give a rough estimate of calves born in each interval.

Producers who keep records should consider using the  Calving Distribution Calculator  to graph calving distribution, as well as determine the economic impact of the current distribution.

Management Strategies for a Consolidated Calving Season
If consolidating the calving season is a management strategy that needs consideration, there are multiple factors to evaluate.

Consider how your herd is calving. Are a majority of the females calving in the second interval (22–42 days)? Is there an even spread between intervals, or do cows calve past the third interval (63+ days)? Depending on how the herd is calving, different strategies should be considered.

First, how do the cows look in terms of body condition? If cows are at a body condition score of less than five, there could be issues with breed up, as well as maintaining a pregnancy. Evaluate the ration and adjust appropriately. Did heifers calve with the cowherd or separately? If they calved at the same time as the cows, ensure those females are being fed adequately to meet nutrient requirements, since they are still growing themselves. Additional resources on body condition score can be found in the article,  Influence of Body Condition on Reproductive Performance of Beef Cows.

Secondly, are pre-breeding vaccinations and overall herd health being taken into consideration? Make certain that pre-breeding vaccinations are occurring at appropriate times. If using Modified Live Vaccines (MLV), make sure they are given according to the label if not earlier. If na├»ve heifers are receiving MLV too close to breeding, it can negatively impact conception rates. Bulls should complete a breeding soundness exam 60–90 days prior to the breeding season. This will allow for any disease, sperm abnormalities, or physical inabilities to be identified and addressed in a timely manner.

Consider reproductive technologies, such as estrous synchronization, to consolidate the breeding and subsequent calving season. Estrous synchronization is a great tool to “bunch” the cowherd and can be used with artificial insemination (AI) or natural service (See:  Using Estrous Synchronization in Natural-Service Breeding Situations). There are multiple options when considering a protocol, but before jumping in, it is important to consider different factors, such as resources, labor and time, not only when implementing the technology, but also at calving time. Do you have enough labor to calve out a large number of cows over a short period of time?

Multiple factors go into defining a calving season, but through simple record keeping, management decisions can be made to increase herd performance and profitability.

 ASA, Corteva Agriscience Announce 38th Young Leader Class

Another new class of emerging leaders are honing their skills to serve as the voices for U.S. agriculture through the American Soybean Association (ASA) and Corteva Agriscience™ Young Leaders program.

The 38th class of Young Leaders met virtually March 11, 2021 and will continue their training with two in-person sessions later in 2021.

ASA’s longest-running leadership program, Young Leaders was founded in 1984 and continues to set the bar for leadership training in agriculture, identifying and training new, innovative and engaged growers.

During the virtual meeting, Young Leaders had the opportunity to connect with one another, discuss the upcoming in-person training programs and hear from soybean industry leaders. Also joining the meeting were, ASA President Kevin Scott (SD); Mike Dillon, Global Portfolio Leader – Soybeans, Corteva Agriscience; Matt Rekeweg, U.S. Industry Relations, Corteva Agriscience, Peter Laudeman, Political Affairs Manager, Corteva Agriscience and Jordan Scott, South Dakota Soybean Association President and member of the Young Leader class of 2018.

“The Young Leader program provides participants with the tools and knowledge they need to be successful leaders while helping them build confidence and grow a strong support network,” ASA President Kevin Scott said. “I’ve seen firsthand the impact it can have. My son Jordan and daughter-in-law Samantha’s experience in the program encouraged them to get involved and I couldn’t be prouder to say that Jordan is now serving as president of the South Dakota Soybean Association.”

“For nearly 40 years, the Corteva Agriscience Young Leader program has worked to identify, develop and support leaders in the U.S. soybean industry. We are honored that our long-term collaboration with ASA means these growers will sharpen their talents and develop skills to help America’s soybean farmers and the agriculture industry,” said Mike Dillon, Global Soybean Portfolio Leader, Corteva Agriscience. “The 2021 Young Leader class is an outstanding group and I am optimistic they will contribute to the soybean industry’s bright future.”

The 2021 Young Leaders are: Wes & Vonda Kirkpatrick (AR); Joey Stasell (IL); Jake McCormick & Sarah Luecke (IN); Jeff & Kim Failor (IA); Kendall & Austin Heiniger (KS); Collin Cooper & Allison Dallas (KY); PJ Feldpausch (MI); Evan & Lucy Staley (MD); Kelli & Jeff Sorenson (MN); Reid Carter (MS); Kaitlin Flick & Klinton Holliday (MO); Cale Buhr (NE); Logan & Kristin Watson (NC); Andrew & Brittni Cossette (ND); Bennett & Liza Musselman (OH); Alex & Grace Tolson (SC); Taylor & John Elverson (SD); and Jason & Brandy Cherry (TN).

Former Ag Co-op Officer Sentenced to Prison for Fraud Scheme

A second former officer at a northwest Iowa agriculture cooperative has been sentenced to federal prison for a grain-blending fraud scheme.

The Associated Press reports that Kenneth Ehrp was sentenced last week to three months in prison after pleading guilty in November to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government.

Prosecutors accused Ehrp and another officer, Calvin Diehl, of ordering Farmers Cooperative Society workers to layer soybeans over lower-value oats in bins and trucks while claiming the entire load was soybeans. The officers then concealed the practice from customers and U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors, officials said.

The scheme to overvalue the co-op's grain inventory was conducted to influence a lender's action on a loan, prosecutors said.

Diehl was also sentenced to three months in February on the same charge.

The U.S. Grain Standards Act prohibits blending different grains unless the blend is designated as "mixed grain" or an exemption is granted by federal regulators.

Farmers Share Sustainability Story with Food Industry Leaders

More than 200 high-level innovators in the food and beverage industry explored the challenges and successes they face as they continually strive to become even more sustainable during The Future of Food USA through a panel featuring CommonGround volunteer Kellie Blair, who farms in Iowa, and National Corn Growers Association Corn Board Member Brandon Hunnicutt, who also serves as Chairman of Field to Market in addition to farming in Nebraska. The session, Farmer Perspectives: The Key Sustainability Challenges and Successes from the Ground, shared the farmers’ personal experiences adopting sustainability practices and sparked discussions on how business can support farmers to reach shared goals together.

“We focused on the farmer perspective during our discussion of sustainability on our farms, how business can help, and what successes we have seen.  On our own farm, and the farms of the other panelists, it seems we have some of the same challenges: weather, labor, defining sustainability and time,” said Blair. “Personally, I love the challenge of telling my farm story to those that may be skeptical about what we are doing.  But, as always, I felt that my voice was heard.”

This virtual event, held March 23 to 25, brought together leading brands and key stakeholders to identify the main areas of opportunity and innovation within the food and beverage industry. During the annual event, food and beverage industry experts assessed what supply chain transformation actually means on the ground to ensure a more sustainable and resilient food system.

“As farmers, we should always be challenging ourselves. Continual improvement doesn’t mean that we are doing a bad job; it just means that we will continue to grow with the best information we have,” Blair said. “Climate, water quality, and soil quality need to be thought of as a systems approach, and no one silver bullet will fix. Agriculture can be a big key to the solution if we all work together!”

In addition to Blair and Hunnicutt, the panel, moderated by Innovation Forum Publishing Editor Ian Welsch, included Travis Hopcott, a cranberry farmer who supplies Ocean Spray and U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action CEO Erin Fitzgerald.

Attendees included representation from companies such as Molson Coors Beverage Company, Walmart, PepsiCo, Kellogg Company, Danone, Yum! Brands, BNP Paribas and Oatly.

Rethink methane and change the narrative around animal agriculture and the environment at 2021 Virtual Summit

Greenhouse gas emissions from livestock and the sustainability of our current food system are generating quite the media buzz, especially with the United Nations gearing up for its Food Systems Summit later this year. University of California, Davis’ Frank Mitloehner, PhD, will provide insights into why we should be rethinking methane and animal agriculture’s role in reaching climate neutrality at the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 2021 Virtual Stakeholders Summit.

The Alliance’s annual Summit brings together thought leaders in the agriculture and food industries to discuss hot-button issues and out-of-the-box ideas to connect everyone along the food chain, engage influencers and protect the future of animal agriculture. The 2021 event, themed “Obstacles to Opportunities,” is scheduled for May 5-6 with preconference webinars planned for the five business days prior, beginning Wednesday, April 28.

The Virtual Summit agenda featuring the exciting and high-caliber speakers you will see at the 2021 event has been posted on the Virtual Summit registration website. Sessions will highlight ways to position animal agriculture as a path forward to climate neutrality, how to elevate the voices of farmers in dialogues surrounding food and agriculture, and strategies for virtual stakeholder and influencer engagement.

Animal agriculture is often villainized as a climate change culprit, but what is viewed as its Achilles' heel may actually be one of our best climate solutions. That’s because we’ve been looking at methane from livestock all wrong, according to Dr. Mitloehner. By rethinking methane, Dr. Mitloehner will show that animal agriculture’s impact on global warming has not only been exaggerated but its ability to capture carbon from the atmosphere is underappreciated. Efficiencies and technology have put the animal agriculture sector on the path to climate neutrality – and likely toward climate change solutions.

“Dr. Mitloehner’s research on the relationship between animal agriculture and climate change is truly fascinating,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “For years, livestock have been targeted and demonized for their methane emissions, and now we have the opportunity to change the narrative and position animal agriculture as a solution to reducing our environmental footprint and improving our planet for generations to come.”

Dr. Mitloehner is a professor and air quality specialist in cooperative extension in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis. As such, he shares his knowledge and research, both domestically and abroad, with students, scientists, farmers and ranchers, policymakers, and the public at large. Dr. Mitloehner is also director of the CLEAR Center, which has two cores – research and communications. The CLEAR Center brings clarity to the intersection of animal agriculture and the environment, helping our global community understand the environmental and human health impacts of livestock, so we can make informed decisions about the foods we eat, while reducing environmental impacts. He is passionate about understanding and mitigating air emissions from livestock operations, as well as studying the implications of these emissions on the health of farm workers and neighboring communities. In addition, he is focusing on the food production challenge that will become a global issue as the world’s population grows to nearly 10 billion by 2050. Frank received a Master of Science degree in animal science and agricultural engineering from the University of Leipzig, Germany, and a doctoral degree in animal science from Texas Tech University.

Be sure to check the Virtual Summit website for the most up-to-date information and to register. You can also follow the hashtag #AAA21 for periodic updates about the event. For general questions about the Summit please contact or call (703) 562-5160.

USDA Posts Webinar Outlining the Domestic Hemp Production Final Rule

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) today announced it has posted a recorded informational webinar to outline key provisions of the Final Rule establishing the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program, which went into effect March 22, 2021.

The webinar is an opportunity for state and tribal authorities and individual growers to learn how to comply with licensing requirements, recordkeeping requirements for maintaining information about the land where hemp is produced, procedures for testing the THC concentration levels for hemp, procedures for disposing of non-compliant plants, compliance provisions and procedures for handling violations.

A link to view the webinar is available on the AMS Hemp Production webpage. Live questions will not be accepted. Please submit questions to

AMS encourages participation of smaller businesses, new and beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged producers, veteran producers, underserved communities, and/or organizations representing these entities.

Background: On March 8, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it had completed its review of the Final Rule establishing the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program and that the rule as published in the Federal Register on Jan. 19, 2021, would move forward and be effective on March 22, 2021.

As part of the transition, USDA and many other agencies took the opportunity to review new and pending regulatory actions. This is a routine process done at the beginning of new administrations to ensure longstanding as well as new programs are structured and resourced appropriately and to ensure programs are implemented to best serve their intended stakeholders.

The final rule includes provisions for the USDA to approve hemp production plans developed by states and Indian tribes including requirements for maintaining information on the land where hemp is produced, testing the levels of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, disposing of plants not meeting necessary requirements and licensing requirements. It also establishes a federal plan for hemp producers in states or territories of Indian tribes that do not have their own USDA-approved hemp production plan.

The final rule incorporates modifications to regulations established under the interim final rule (IFR) published in October 2019. The modifications are based on public comments following the publication of the IFR and lessons learned during the 2020 growing season.

More information about the final rule is available on the AMS Hemp Production webpage