Thursday, April 29, 2021

Thursday April 29 Ag News

 UNL Dept of Ag Economics Farm & Ranch Management Webinar Series Continues....

Economic Recovery in U.S. Agriculture

Thursday, May 13, 11:30 a.m. CDT
Nathan Kauffman, Omaha Branch Executive, Vice President and Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
On the verge of disaster one year ago, many segments of the U.S. agricultural economy have rebounded to new heights. Supported by robust global demand, reopening economies, and tight supplies, the prices of major U.S. crops have touched their highest level in nearly a decade. Although significant risks remain, the outlook for U.S. agriculture in the months ahead is strong.

Benchmarking and Profitability for Beef Operations

Thursday, May 20, noon
Randy Saner, Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension
Matt Stockton, Associate Professor, UNL Agricultural Economics
Benchmarking a cow-calf operation by comparing it to other similar operations, can give producers a tool to look at ways they can improve their business. This webinar will look at 31 commercial beef cow-calf operations with 100 or more cows. The information comes from the 2019 FINBIN database maintained by the University of Minnesota for the states of Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. We will discuss what key factors makes a beef operation profitable according to this benchmarking data.

Register for either webinar at

State Revenue Projections Continuing to Grow

Statement by Mark McHargue, President, NE Farm Bureau

In response to the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board’s revised revenue projections for the current year and the next biennium, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue said “We are encouraged by continued growth in state revenues, indicating that Nebraska’s economy is strong. Nebraska’s strong tax revenues continue to give the state the opportunity to deliver more property tax relief and provide better access to high speed broadband in rural Nebraska.”


– Brad Schick, NE Extension Educator

If you have wetlands, creek bottoms, or just wet areas in pastures, you probably have some reed canarygrass. It is often the first perennial grass to green up in the spring.  
Reed canarygrass is a high-producing cool-season grass that thrives in wetter conditions in addition to well-drained soils. As the plant matures, palatability decreases rapidly so grazing it can be a challenge.
Reed canarygrass contains alkaloids which are unpalatable chemical compounds. Reed canarygrass also has a very thick stem which contributes to livestock preferring other plants to eat.
However, if cattle are turned out on it very early it is good forage that they will eat. Reed canarygrass should be grazed before it is 10 inches tall and grazed down quickly to about three to four inches before moving to the next area to graze reed canarygrass. Once growth reaches almost 10 inches again, livestock can be put back on and will graze it. The nutritional quality of the forage is also high at this young growth stage.  
This method does require some time and labor, but it is early forage and can be palatable if grazed in rapid rotation. Haying is also an option when it is still short, but spring dry-down can be challenging.
Reed canarygrass can be a good grass to graze, but it will likely take some practice and time to get it right.

Future Leaders in Agriculture Scholarship Winners Announced

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 Future Leaders in Agriculture Scholarship Program (FLAGship Program). After reviewing the applications and much deliberation, the NeCGA Grower Services Committee chose five applicants to each receive a $2,000 scholarship. The awardees are listed below, along with their intended secondary school and degree program:
Blaine Bonifas, Aurora (UNL, Agronomy)
Jason Kettelhake, Tecumseh (Concordia University, Agribusiness)
Ellen Wanek, Aurora (UNL, Pre-Vet)
Gage Groeteke, Primrose (UNL, Political Science)
Cassandra Pieper, Howells (Wayne State College, Pre-Medicine)

To be eligible for this scholarship, students must be a member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association or the son/daughter of an NeCGA member. They must be a senior in high school or college freshman who is continuing their education in Nebraska. Three of the five scholarships are set aside for students who are pursuing a degree in an agriculture related field. Two scholarships are open to students pursuing a degree outside of agriculture.

“I want to congratulate each student who was chosen to receive a scholarship. The applications this year were impressive and choosing only five was difficult. We hope that this scholarship is a bright spot in what was a challenging year for students across the state. We are excited to see how these young people advocate for agriculture in the future,” said Michael Dibbern, chairman of the Grower Services Committee.

2020 NE Poultry Production and Value

The value of egg production in Nebraska during 2020 was $153 million, up $22.9 million from $130 million in 2019, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Egg production in 2020 was estimated at 2.43 billion eggs, down 226.3 million from the previous year. Average number of layers for 2020 at 8.57 million was down 303,000 from 2019.

Value of U.S. Production and Sales Down 11 Percent

The combined value of production from broilers, eggs, turkeys, and the value of sales from chickens in 2020 was $35.5 billion, down 11 percent from $40.0 billion in 2019. Of the combined total, 61 percent was from broilers, 24 percent from eggs, 15 percent from turkeys, and less than 1 percent from chickens.

Value of all egg production in 2020 was $8.66 billion, up 18 percent from $7.33 billion in 2019. Egg production totaled 112 billion eggs, down 1 percent from 113 billion eggs produced in 2019.

The value of broilers produced during 2020 was $21.7 billion, down 23 percent from 2019. The total number of broilers produced in 2020 was 9.22 billion, up slightly from 2019. The total amount of live weight broilers produced in 2020 was 59.4 billion pounds, up 2 percent from 2019.

The value of sales from chickens (excluding broilers) in 2020 was $18.8 million, down 50 percent from $37.6 million a year ago. The number of chickens sold in 2020 totaled 185 million, down 1 from the total sold during the previous year.

The value of turkeys produced during 2020 was $5.19 billion, up 20 percent from the $4.32 billion the previous year. The total number of turkeys raised in 2020 was 224 million, down 2 percent from 2019. Turkey production in 2020 totaled 7.32 billion pounds, down 2 percent from the 7.47 billion pounds produced in 2019.

USDA:  Milk Production, Disposition, and Income 2020 Summary

Milk production increased 2.2 percent in 2020 to 223 billion pounds. The rate per cow, at 23,777 pounds, was 382 pounds above 2019. The annual average number of milk cows on farms was 9.39 million head, up 51,000 head from 2019.

Cash receipts from marketings of milk during 2020 totaled $40.5 billion, up slightly from 2019. Producer returns averaged $18.25 per hundredweight, 2.1 percent below 2019. Marketings totaled 222.1 billion pounds, 2.2 percent above 2019. Marketings include whole milk sold to plants and dealers and milk sold directly to consumers.

2020 Milk Marketed (million pounds)  -  Cash Receipts from marketings

Nebraska .....:                  1,453.0                 -                     $264,446,000
Iowa ............:                  5,356.0                 -                    $1,044,420,000    

An estimated 1.09 billion pounds of milk were used on farms where produced, 6.2 percent more than 2019. Calves were fed 92 percent of this milk, with the remainder consumed in producer households.

USDA Meat Animals Production, Disposition, and Income 2020 Summary

Total 2020 production of cattle and calves and hogs and pigs for the United States totaled 86.0 billion pounds, down 1 percent from 2019. Production increased 2 percent for cattle and calves but decreased 3 percent for hogs and pigs.

Cattle and Calves: Cash receipts from marketings of cattle and calves decreased 5 percent, from $66.3 billion in 2019 to $63.1 billion in 2020. All cattle and calf marketings totaled 59.0 billion pounds in 2020, up 1 percent from 2019.

Cattle & Calves - Cash Receipts by State

Nebraska ...:  $9,645,347,000
Iowa ..........:  $3,785,760,000

Hogs and Pigs: Cash receipts from hogs and pigs totaled $19.2 billion during 2020, down 12 percent from 2019. Marketings totaled 41.9 billion pounds in 2020, down 3 percent from 2019.

Hogs & Pigs - Cash Receipts by State

Nebraska ...:    $755,968,000 
Iowa ..........:   $9,645,347,000

Total 2020 cash receipts from marketings of meat animals decreased 7 percent to $82.3 billion. Cattle and calves accounted for 77 percent of this total and hogs and pigs accounted for 23 percent.

The 2020 gross income from cattle and calves and hogs and pigs for the United States totaled $82.7 billion, down 7 percent from 2019. Gross income decreased 5 percent for cattle and calves and decreased 12 percent for hogs and pigs from previous year's gross income.

“May Beef Month” highlights Iowa’s beef cattle industry

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association thanks Gov. Kim Reynolds for proclaiming May as “Beef Month” in Iowa. Each year, roughly 20,000 beef cattle operations generate more than $6 billion of economic activity in the state.

During “Beef Month,” the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association invites producers and consumers across the state to join our efforts in sharing how beef contributes to a healthy diet. Iowa’s cattlemen work hard to feed a growing population, while stewarding our land and natural resources. The value of beef reaches far beyond your plate.   

WHEREAS, Iowa is a major beef producing state with more than 3.6 million head of cattle as of January 1, 2021; and

WHEREAS, the beef cattle industry generates approximately $6 billion of economic activity in the state; and  

WHEREAS, today’s beef is a naturally nutrient-rich food providing protein, iron, zinc, and B-vitamins with more than 30 beef cuts that meet the government’s definition for “lean”; and

WHEREAS, cattle producers are the original stewards of the land, working to improve productivity by conserving and making optimum use of natural resources; and  

WHEREAS, Iowa is a leader in the export of value-added agriculture products, shipping high-quality Iowa beef to other countries around the world; and  

WHEREAS, there is an ever-increasing need for better understanding of the benefits that the beef cattle industry provides to all Iowans:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Kim Reynolds, Governor of the State of Iowa, do hereby proclaim the month of May 2021 as
  -  BEEF MONTH  -   

in Iowa, and urge all citizens to appreciate the contributions the beef cattle industry continues to provide our state.

Sharing Rural Roads with Farm Equipment Requires Patience and Caution

Favorable weather in the forecast has farm equipment and motorists back on Iowa’s roadways, and with that combination comes the need for patience and caution.

“Every year there are thousands of collisions between motor vehicles and farm machinery on our rural roads,” said Steven Freeman, professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State University.

The most common incidents occur when an approaching motorist hits a farm vehicle from behind or when a passing motorist hits a farm vehicle that is attempting to make a wide left turn, according to Freeman, who authored a handy guide called “Sharing Rural Roads.”

Additional information is also available in the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach publication “Safely Sharing the Road with Farm Vehicles.”

Freeman provides tips for both rural motorists and also for farmers. He said it takes a combined effort to keep Iowa’s roadways safe.

His advice for everyone is to remember that they share the roadway with others, to always drive defensively, and also make sure all vehicles and equipment are properly marked, and that operator intentions are clearly communicated.

“It requires everyone if we are going to make the roads safer,” he said. “Motorists need to slow down and be patient, and farmers need to make sure their equipment is marked and their intentions are recognized.”

Freeman said motorists need to remember that farm equipment is usually slow moving – especially when it is marked with a Slow Moving Vehicle sign. Farmers who veer to the right of a roadway may actually be preparing to make a left-hand turn. If possible, farmers and motorists should try to make eye contact when turning or preparing to pass, and both should be cautious about making any assumptions.

Tips for the rural driver

    Be prepared for farm vehicles. Farm vehicles travel significantly slower than automobiles. You may only have a few seconds to react and slow down before overtaking a farm vehicle. Be prepared to slow down and follow; you may not have room to pass.
    Slow down and keep your distance. Don’t assume that the farmer can pull over and let you pass. Shoulder conditions may make it unsafe for the farmer to pull heavy equipment to the side of the road.
    Be sure of the farmer’s intentions before passing. Don’t assume that a farm vehicle is turning right or pulling over to let you pass if it pulls to the right side of the road. A farmer may have to swing right in order to make a left turn. Wait until you know what the farmer is planning to do.
    Be patient and enjoy the scenery if you find yourself following a farm vehicle. Even if you have to follow a farm vehicle for a couple of miles, it will only take a few minutes of your time.
    Be especially alert in the evenings; farmers are returning from the fields and dusk makes farm vehicles more difficult to see.

Tips for the farmer

    Only allow licensed, or appropriately trained, operators to take farm machinery onto the road. Youth who are able to operate machinery in the field may not be able to deal safely with traffic and other road hazards.
    Make sure farm machinery is equipped with the lighting and marking safety devices recommended by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers and required by state and local laws. Be sure to remind all  operators to use the appropriate hazard lights and turn signals when traveling on roads.
    Minimize total vehicle width and secure equipment in the transport position before entering roadways.
    Watch for approaching traffic and vehicles trying to pass. If possible, pull over and let traffic pass safely, but be alert for roadside hazards.
    Obey all traffic laws and signs.
    Signal intentions to motorists and avoid sudden or unexpected maneuvers.
    Exercise additional care when entering roadways, approaching unsigned or “blind” intersections, crossing narrow bridges, going around sharp corners or going over hills.

Ranch Group Warns of Too Many Black Swan Events

Leaders of R-CALF USA are warning that the three Black Swan events their cattle markets suffered in less than two years are accelerating their industry’s trajectory towards vertical integration, not unlike the current state of both the packer-controlled hog and poultry industries.

A Black Swan event is defined as an unpredictable or unforeseen event, typically one with extreme consequences.

R-CALF USA Region III Director Brett Kenzy, who backgrounds and feeds cattle in south central South Dakota, said Black Swan events in the cattle industry occur when the cattle market goes in the opposite direction that market fundamentals would dictate.

“In less than two years, the fed cattle market took nose dives in response to major wholesale beef rallies. The first followed the August 2019 Tyson plant fire, the second followed the March 2020 outset of the pandemic, and the third is happening right now with boxed beef surging to $280 per cwt while fed cattle prices are falling,” Kenzy said.

R-CALF USA Region VII Director Eric Nelson, a cattle feeder in western Iowa, agrees. “Cattle prices plummeted in the face of each of those boxed beef rallies and those three events were distinctly marked by lower volumes in the negotiated fed cattle market, higher volumes of captive supplies held by packers, skyrocketing packer margins, and an industry undecided as to what, if anything, to do about it.”

R-CALF USA charted the course of those three Black Swan events in a slide presentation titled “Three Black Swans,” showing the relationships between wholesale beef prices and cattle prices, and the relationship between packer margins and negotiated cash volumes. In addition, the slides show captive supply volumes in relation to cattle prices, and the relationship between surges in monthly beef imports and cattle price declines.

Kenzy said while other groups appear uncertain as to how to respond to these irrational market moves, his group has a definite plan.       

“This is urgent. There’s no reason cattle producers shouldn’t be enjoying the benefits of higher wholesale prices, strong exports, and incredible beef demand. The only reason we’re not benefiting is because our cash market is too thin to establish competitive cattle prices and we can’t showcase our superior beef with a country-of-origin label,” he said adding, “and to top it off, we’ve paid to have this dysfunctional marketplace through the government mandated beef checkoff program.”

Nelson said producers must do three things right away:  1) go to and sign the petition for a beef checkoff referendum, 2) call their congressional members to tell them to pass the Grassley/Tester bill (S.949) to revive the industry’s price discovery market, and 3) tell their congressional members that they must immediately restore mandatory country of origin labeling for beef.

Both Kenzy and Nelson agree that rising corn prices added to their already dysfunctional cattle market will likely lead to lower feeder cattle prices for cow/calf producers and more red ink for cattle feeders.

“Cattle produces have contributed about all they can to bolster beef packer profits and now Congress must act quickly to restore competition to our industry – before it’s too late,” Nelson concluded.

USGC, FGIS Collaboration Helps Instill Global Buyers’ Confidence In U.S. Grains

A transparent and reliable understanding of the grain inspection process is essential to global markets and a critical reason the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) works so closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Federal Grain Inspection Service (USDA's FGIS) to demonstrate to overseas buyers that the quality of U.S. grains delivered is the quality promised.

For 2020/2021, U.S. grain exports of corn, barley and sorghum are projected to break the all-time grain export record. Marketing year 2019/2020 exports totaled roughly 101.2 million metric tons, equivalent to 4.1 billion bushels, the sixth-best export marketing year of all time.

"One of our main goals is for end-users and importers of feed grains and co-products to understand how the U.S. export system works so they can feel confident about procuring them from the U.S.," said Ana Ballesteros, USGC marketing director in Latin America. "A well-informed customer will set clear expectations and improve its procurement-related processes when they understand how things are done at origin."

Congress created FGIS in 1976 to manage the national grain inspection system established in 1916. Today, FGIS facilitates quality standards, handling practices, weighing and inspection services. It ensures U.S. grains products and co-products are graded and accurately labeled for sale in international markets.

Among other things, FGIS provides recommendations for equipment and procedures necessary to effectively sample grain. Through specialized programming, importers can interact with FGIS staff with support from the Council. Recent FGIS workshops have included grain sampling methods in Latin America and Southeast Asia.

"Better processes contribute to overall efficiency, and if our customers are more efficient, we will be contributing to their performance and future growth. We want growing industries that can continue demanding more feed grains and co-products," Ballesteros said.

Customized programs allow the Council to reinforce its engagement with end-users and importers of corn and corn co-products and, at the same time, provide them with relevant information to strengthen their understanding of the U.S. export system.

“In Southeast Asia, we like to market the ‘total package’ when customers choose U.S. origin. A big component of this added value is the technical servicing we are able to provide through FGIS programs. No other origin is able to provide the support, training and information the U.S. provides through cooperators like USGC and government partners like FGIS,” said Caleb Wurth, USGC assistant regional director of Southeast Asia.

FGIS also works with USGC and consultants to conduct the annual USGC Export Cargo Corn Quality Report. FGIS provides USGC with samples taken directly from its sampling during the grading process on official inspection from export shipments. This allows the USGC Export Cargo Corn Quality Report to be extremely accurate.

"USGC has worked with FGIS - including some individuals personally - for decades to explain how central the grading and inspection process is to U.S. grain exports, which helps us establish trust in the product we are selling and the U.S. as a long-term, reliable supplier. This work is a central part of our long-term market development efforts for both established and new customers," said Cary Sifferath, USGC senior director of global programs.

Researchers find increased use of biodiesel saves lives, results in cost savings

A new study from Trinity Consultants demonstrates that switching to biodiesel results in a multitude of benefits at the neighborhood level, including significant health benefits such as decreased cancer risk, fewer premature deaths and reduced asthma attacks.

The study, sponsored by the National Biodiesel Board with support from the Nebraska Soybean Board, South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, California Advanced Biofuels Alliance, Iowa Soybean Board and the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board, used well established EPA air dispersion modeling tools coupled with health risk assessments and benefit valuations to assess the public health benefits and resulting economic savings of converting from petroleum-based diesel to 100% biodiesel, known as B100, in 13 sites and communities in the U.S. exposed to high rates of petroleum diesel pollution. Biodiesel is a readily available, low-carbon, renewable fuel made from a diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats.

"We have always known that biodiesel offers a better and cleaner alternative to petroleum diesel," National Biodiesel Board CEO Donnell Rehagen said. "This study quantifies the health benefits and shows that by using renewable fuels like biodiesel and renewable diesel, we are bringing positive change to people's lives, the nation's health and the economy."

Researchers found that switching to 100% biodiesel for home heating oil and transportation would annually bring the 13 communities studied:
    340 fewer premature deaths.
    46,000 fewer lost workdays.
    $3 billion in avoided health care costs.

In the transportation sector, benefits included a potential 45% reduction in cancer risk when heavy-duty trucks such as semis use B100 and 203,000 fewer or lessened asthma attacks.

When Bioheat® fuel made from 100% biodiesel is used in place of petroleum heating oil, the study found an 86% reduced cancer risk and 17,000 fewer lung problems.

The study also considered the economic cost of premature deaths, asthma cases, reduced activity due to poor health, and work impacted due to sick days. For example, researchers found the communities surrounding the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach would avoid about $1.69 billion in health costs due to improved air quality in the form of reduced premature deaths and health care costs and increased productivity.

As these numbers represent findings from just 13 sites and communities, they are truly the tip of the iceberg. Rehagen noted that B100 can achieve these benefits by reducing pollution from markets that are hardest to decarbonize: heavy-duty transportation and residential heating.

 “Saving lives by reducing the health impacts of transportation and home heating fuels is a priority, and biodiesel is widely available today to achieve that goal,” he said. “These immediate and substantial emissions and health benefits can and should be an important part in any state, regional or national climate program as our nation moves toward decarbonization through advanced alternative fuels like biodiesel and renewable diesel. The immediacy of these potential health benefits, especially for disadvantaged communities, is even more critical when one considers the years it will take for states to pursue deep electrification and other decarbonization strategies.”

The study was conducted by Trinity Consultants, which has over 40 years of experience conducting air dispersion modeling and related health risk assessments, among its many areas of expertise. Trinity operates 69 offices internationally and has performed air dispersion modeling for industrial facilities, utilities and government agencies.

RFA to USDA: Ethanol Fuels Climate-Smart Agriculture, Energizes Rural Communities

In separate comment letters submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Renewable Fuels Association explained how expanded ethanol production and use can support the administration’s “climate-smart” agriculture goals and encouraged USDA to use the Rural Energy Pilot Program to support research into the use of ethanol for low-carbon power generation.

“The renewable fuels industry has been a leader in the effort to transition away from fossil fuels, and fuels like ethanol have already prevented hundreds of millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere,” RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper said. “These renewable fuels provide a solid foundation upon which to build a low-carbon future for our nation and world.”

In response to USDA’s request for information regarding the role for “climate-smart agriculture” and biofuels in combatting climate change, RFA offered the following recommendations, among others:
    As directed by Congress, USDA should actively coordinate and consult with EPA on implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard, especially with regard to the analyses and studies required as part of the process to establish RFS volumes in 2023 and beyond.
    USDA should continue to look for opportunities to assist fuel retailers and marketers who wish to install infrastructure suitable for distributing higher biofuel blends.
    The Department should redouble efforts to ensure its fleet of vehicles, which includes a large number of flex-fuel vehicles, is consistently fueled with low-carbon ethanol blends.
    USDA should support technology- and feedstock-neutral policy approaches to reducing GHG emissions from the transportation sector.
    In consultation with DOE and EPA, USDA should take a leadership role in ensuring the administration has current data, appropriate modeling tools, and an accurate understanding of the lifecycle carbon impacts of producing and using biofuels.

In separate comments to USDA responding to the Department’s request for comments on its Rural Energy Pilot Program, RFA highlighted that, with continued research and development, ethanol could also serve as an excellent low-carbon, low-cost feedstock for power generation. Natural gas turbine power plants have traditionally used diesel as a backup fuel, Cooper wrote, but ethanol can be used instead. Indeed, ethanol is already being used outside the United States as a power generation fuel. In addition to lowering GHG emissions, the use of ethanol for stationary power generation would improve air quality and reduce water consumption.

However, the use of ethanol for power generation needs further testing and development, Cooper said, making ethanol-to-electricity a strong candidate for this USDA program. “Despite the considerable potential for the use of ethanol in power generation, there is groundwork that needs to be done before adoption can take place in the U.S,” RFA’s comments concluded. “This makes ethanol-based power generation a good fit with the Rural Energy Pilot Program, as proper funding can kickstart this potentially large new market.”

ACE Recommends USDA Establish Framework to Reward Farmers, Biofuel Facilities for Carbon Cutting Contributions in its Climate Strategy

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) encouraged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help establish a protocol for biofuel producers and farmers to easily document the carbon intensity benefits of changes in agricultural practices in comments submitted today regarding USDA’s climate strategy for President Biden’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. As USDA contemplates the role it will play to advance climate-smart agriculture, ACE CEO Brian Jennings’ comments urge USDA develop a commonsense framework to verify practices that sequester carbon in the soil so farmers and ethanol producers can reap the rewards in future low carbon fuel standard markets.

ACE’s comments detail the opportunity farmers and biofuel producers hold today to help meet the ambitious climate goals set forth by the Biden administration and the critical role USDA could play to help validate farm-level carbon credits for biofuels. “The U.S. will not achieve the ambitious climate goals unless steps are taken to reward farmers and biofuel producers for their ability to be part of the climate solution,” the comments stated.

The written comments highlight that today’s corn ethanol meets the definition of an advanced biofuel with its ability to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50 percent compared to gasoline. “In other words, we do not need to wait for so-called next generation crops or biofuels, or electric vehicles (EVs) and an entirely new supply chain to support them, to immediately begin tackling climate change.”

Further, the gold standard tool for determining lifecycle GHG emissions of transportation fuels, the GREET model, will be updated soon to account for further adoption of climate-smart farming practices, which would credit corn ethanol for GHG emissions reductions between 60 and 70 percent compared to gasoline. In fact, ACE commented, ethanol is the only transportation fuel that can reach net-negative carbon intensity through carbon capture and sequestration and continued advancements within ethanol facilities and on-farm practices in how biofuel crops are grown.

“The sooner USDA helps validate the role farm-level practices can have in further reducing corn ethanol’s carbon footprint, the sooner the U.S. can begin making good on ambitions to reduce GHG emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.”

Soil carbon models and the GREET model could be used by regulators such as the California Air Resources Board (CARB) today to assign credits for climate-smart farming practices that help reduce the overall carbon intensity of corn ethanol. However, there is a double-standard because CARB chooses not to rely on trusted models to provide farm-level carbon credits for biofuels, but willingly uses models to assign carbon penalties, such as land use change, to biofuels. ACE’s comments offer recommendations for USDA to ensure farmer access to low carbon fuel markets.

Stingless Wasps Defend Ash Trees and Battle the Emerald Ash Borer

For years ash trees had been declining and dying in southeast Michigan for no apparent reason. Then in 2002, the Michigan Department of Agriculture discovered why—it was a small wood-boring beetle called emerald ash borer (EAB). Soon after it was detected, USDA’s Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) program sent PPQ and Forest Service scientists to China to look for EAB’s natural enemies in its native range. They found three wasp species (parasitoids) attacking EAB eggs and larvae, and brought them back to study—hopeful that at least one species could be safely released as a biological control (biocontrol) against the pest.

Biocontrol is a practical pest management tool that uses pests’ natural enemies to suppress or reduce pest populations. It is cost-effective and environmentally sound, reduces the use of conventional pesticides, and is self-sustaining once biocontrol agents establish their populations.

Fast forward to 2021. PPQ’s EAB biological control staff rear four stingless wasp species that are EAB natural enemies. Three attack EAB’s larvae, and one attacks its eggs. The staff produce the wasps year-round and keep them in cold storage until spring. In mid-May, the staff will begin to ship wasps to our program cooperators—State departments of agriculture, Native American tribes, universities, and environmental groups—for release.

“This release season we will send multiple shipments of one or more species to 150 release sites in EAB-infested states,” said Supervisory Entomologist Ben Slager, who manages PPQ’s EAB biocontrol rearing facility. “All four wasp species are amazing EAB hunters; however, researchers know the most about how effectively Tetrastichus attacks and kills EAB larvae, spreads, and protects ash sapling and young trees."

Tetrastichus are comparable in size to an average mosquito. They hunt by feeling vibrations from EAB larvae feeding under the bark. They use their ovipositor to pierce through the bark and lay multiple eggs inside the larvae. Their eggs hatch, feed, and eventually kill the EAB larvae as the wasps complete their lifecycle and bore out of the tree ready to attack EAB larvae.

Since the start of the biocontrol program, PPQ has released about 8 million wasps in 30 EAB-infested States. We have successfully recovered wasp offspring in 22 States, demonstrating that the wasps are reproducing, becoming established in the areas where they were released, and—more importantly—attacking and killing EAB.

EAB parasitoids are showing promise in several States, especially in terms of protecting young ash saplings from EAB. In 2019, USDA scientists teamed up with researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, to study the effects of EAB biocontrol in Michigan and several northeastern states. They found that the wasps were killing 20 percent to 80 percent of EAB in ash trees up to 8 inches in diameter. Their study documented that more EAB were being attacked by wasps, fewer EABs were attacking ash trees, and the ash trees were regenerating.

“In January 2021, PPQ removed the Federal domestic EAB quarantine regulations so we could devote our resources to biocontrol,” Slager said. “I’m happy to say the biocontrol results from the field have been encouraging, but we certainly have a lot more work ahead of us.”

Wednesday April 28 Ag News

– Ben Beckman, NE Extension
Those looking to get grass or alfalfa seed into the ground this spring are doing so now.  Before you fill up the drill and head out to plant, remember to prep the seedbed first!
When doing a planting of alfalfa or grass, seedbed preparation often plays a big role in germination success. Instead of just pulling into your field and planting, first get off your tractor and walk across the field.  As you walk, look back at your footprints.  Do you sink in more deeply than the soles of your shoes or boots?  If so, your seedbed may be too soft.
Another technique is to bring to the field a seedbed testing kit.  Now, most folks also call this kit a basketball, but a basketball tests seedbeds better than any other tool I know.  Try to bounce the basketball in your field.  It should be easy to bounce that basketball on a firm seedbed.  If you can't bounce the ball easily, don't plant yet.  Firm that seedbed even more with a flat harrow, a roller, or maybe even irrigate.
Why so much effort for a seedbed?  Well, when small seeds germinate their first roots must come into immediate contact with moisture and nutrients in the soil if those seedlings are to survive and grow rapidly.  Loose seedbeds can have up to 50 percent dead airspace in the seeding zone.  First roots that emerge into that dead airspace often do not live, and your stand will suffer.  A firm seedbed reduces this dead airspace, which helps you get thicker stands that develop more rapidly.
Do you want better, faster developing grass and alfalfa stands with less risk of failure?  A firm seedbed is your first step.


Two University of Nebraska–Lincoln engineering students have been awarded a Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for their invention designed to keep grain farmers safe.

Seniors Ben Johnson, an electrical engineering major from Aurora, and Zane Zents, a computer engineering major from Omaha, pitched the plan for their product, Grain Weevil, for the national award. They were chosen alongside three other undergraduate teams and four graduate winners. They will receive a $10,000 prize.

The Grain Weevil is a small robot designed to maintain grain, eliminating the need for farmers to enter bins, which can be dangerous and even fatal.

The idea for the Grain Weevil came from a conversation between Johnson’s father, Chad, and an Aurora farmer. Ben Johnson was an underclassman at the time and had just completed his first major robotics project. Chad Johnson was talking about it with one of his friends from church.  

“We showed him this robot and he said, ‘Hey, if you can build that robot, you could build me a robot to stay out of the grain bin,’” Chad Johnson said.

With the idea in place, the Johnsons got to work. Ben brought in his friend and former roommate Zents, who is also a computer science and mathematics major at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, to round out their skill set. After two years of trials and hundreds of hours of work, they finished the robot.

The latest version of the Grain Weevil is a 30-pound remote-controlled robot that uses augers and gravity to level grain and redistribute it throughout the bin. It can be transported by backpack and is waterproof and dustproof. If it is accidentally buried, it can dig itself out of up to 5 feet of grain.  

Receiving the Lemelson-MIT award has shown Johnson and Zents that their idea has been accepted by some of the best and brightest minds in the STEM world. After graduation, the two plan to work on the Grain Weevil full-time in hopes of bringing it to farmers across America.

The pair are passionate about their product — and grateful that the Lemelson-MIT judges saw that fire.

“We're trying to keep farmers safe. We're trying to keep our neighbors — our communities — from getting hurt,” Zents said. “I think they saw that passion, they saw the message and they let us succeed.”

USDA Farm Service Agency to Present on CFAP 2, Pandemic Assistance Program During May 6 Webinar

Nebraska USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) will provide an overview of assistance available through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) during a webinar scheduled for Thursday, May 6. The webinar is part of the University of Nebraska Lincoln’s Farm and Ranch Management series. It will begin at 12 p.m. CT, and those interested in listening can register at

Nebraska FSA Production and Compliance Programs Chief Cathy Anderson and Nebraska Extension Policy Specialist Brad Lubben will combine to provide an overview of CFAP 2 as a part of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative (PAP). Both have been announced recently.

“FSA has a role in parts of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative and recently began implementing updates to CFAP as part of PAP,” said Nebraska FSA Acting State Executive Director Tim Divis. “This includes reopening the CFAP 2 application period to reinforce the opportunity for all eligible farmers and ranchers to apply for this assistance.”

Persons with disabilities who require accommodations to attend or participate in the webinar should contact the Nebraska FSA State Office at (402) 437-5581 or Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339, or email by Monday, May 3.

Iowa Farm & Biofuel Leaders Call for Progress on E15

Iowa’s top biofuel and farm advocates today urge Iowa lawmakers to approve H.F. 859, legislation to ensure all Iowans can benefit from access to E15 at the pump by 2028. The following joint statement was issued by Growth Energy, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Ethanol Producers Association, and POET:

“Every Iowa driver should have the freedom to choose E15, which will provide fuel savings and is made from corn harvested on Iowa farms. We enthusiastically support the work of Governor Reynolds and the Legislature to get Iowa on the road to E15.

“E15 is already popular with consumers, compatible with today’s infrastructure, and saves motorists an average of five cents per gallon in Iowa. Expanding E15 across the state will grow corn markets by 23 million bushels, inject $140 million into the state’s economy, and save Iowa motorists an additional $72 million each year. Now is the time to act, and we’re counting on Iowa lawmakers to lead the nation by ensuring access to E15 statewide.

“We hope leaders will vote to advance this important legislation, which has strong bipartisan support in the Iowa House thanks to the leadership of Rep. Lee Hein and other biofuel champions. We urge House and Senate leaders to move quickly to send this bill to Governor Reynolds, who has made this legislation a top priority.”

Can Small Grain, Soybean Relay Intercropping Be Successful in Iowa?

Succeeding with small grain, soybean relay intercropping in Iowa is the topic of an Iowa Learning Farms webinar at noon on Wednesday, May 5.

Small grain, soybean relay intercropping is the next step after using small grains for cover crops. Mark Licht, assistant professor in agronomy and cropping systems specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will explain this practice and its benefits.

Relay intercropping is a way to extend active plant growth after corn and before soybean to achieve soil health and nutrient loss reduction benefits similar to soybean. Growth of the small grain crop is extended through seed production to also provide economic value, which is a missed opportunity when small grains are used solely as a cover crop.  

Small grain seed production can be used for livestock feed rations and niche food markets. While soybean and wheat production considered individually may be slightly lower compared to optimized sole crop production, a relay intercropping system results in greater land use equivalency.

“Relay intercropping is a system that has potential to be used across Iowa in an effort to diversify and provide resiliency to cropping systems,” said Licht. “While relay intercropping can be riskier, using a relay intercropping system can diversify farm income while providing soil health and nutrient loss reduction benefits.”

Licht’s research focuses on corn and soybean production systems and ways to incorporate conservation practices into those systems.

Webinar Access Instructions
To participate in the live webinar, shortly before noon on May 5:
    Click this URL or type this web address into your internet browser:
    Or, go to and enter meeting ID 364 284 172.
    Or, join from a dial-in phone line by dialing +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 876 9923; meeting ID 364 284 172.
    The webinar will also be recorded and archived on the ILF website, so that it can be watched at any time.

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

Virtual Forage Field Day to Feature Annuals

Annual forages can provide flexibility when managing forage supply, whether filling forage production gaps or serving as a primary forage source.

Learn more about annual forages and integrating them into a cropping rotation in a virtual field day set for June 3 beginning at 8:30 a.m., hosted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

"We’ve seen an interest from producers wanting to integrate both cool and warm season annual forages into their farming operation," said Erika Lundy, beef specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. "However, many questions still remain regarding which forage species is best for a given situation or farm goal as well as their nutritional value and yield potential."

The event will highlight a research project evaluating different cool-season annual forage species in terms of forage nutritional value, yield potential and practical considerations for integrating annual forages into cropping rotations. To learn more about this project and what's been learned, plan to attend this virtual field day, which will feature a tour of the annual forage plots at outlying Iowa State University research farms.

There is no cost to participate and the field day is open to all. However, preregistration is required prior to the event. To register, go to Once registered, participants will receive a confirmation email with the link to join, which will be provided through Zoom. If you don't have this app on your computer or device, you'll want to download and install it for the best quality.

Participants may join through their web browser, mobile phone or tablet and will need to download a free app prior to joining. Participants should join the webinar 10 minutes in advance to ensure connections and software are working correctly.

For more information, questions, or if you need assistance with registration contact Iowa Beef Center at or 515-294-BEFF (2333).

Funding for this project provided is by the Iowa Nutrient Research Center.

The Zoom download is available through the App Store for iOS devices and through Google Play for Android

Fertilizer Price Increases Slow After Months of Sharp Gains

Retail fertilizer prices continued to increase the third week of April 2021, albeit at a slower pace, according to sellers surveyed by DTN.  While all eight of the major fertilizers were higher compared to a month earlier, no fertilizers were significantly higher, which DTN designates as 5% or more. Increases fell between 1% and 4%.

UAN28 and UAN32 increased the most, about 4% each. UAN28 cost an average of $348 per ton, while UAN32 was $391/ton.  Anhydrous increased 3% to $707/ton.  With 2% increases, urea had an average price of $510/ton, while 10-34-0 was $612/ton.  DAP had an average price of $627/ton, MAP $703/ton and potash $432/ton, an increase of 1% over last month.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.55/lb.N, anhydrous $0.43/lb.N, UAN28 $0.62/lb.N and UAN32 $0.61/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 17% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 31% higher, urea is 32% more expensive, UAN32 40% higher, anhydrous is 44% more expensive, UAN28 is 47% higher, DAP is 53% more expensive and MAP 62% is higher compared to last year.

USDA Improves Livestock Crop Insurance Policies with New Options

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is updating livestock insurance policies to improve options for producers and to create additional opportunities for producers to participate. USDA’s Risk Management Agency’s (RMA) updates to the Dairy Revenue Protection (DRP) and Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) policies will be effective for the 2022 and succeeding crop years.

“We are always looking for ways to improve the insurance program and coverage for our producers,” said RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy. “We strongly feel that these updates will benefit producers and their dairy and livestock operations in the years to come.”

Updates to DRP

DRP has been RMA’s most successful livestock product. In just its second year, it covered about 30% of milk production. It provided critical protection against unexpected decreases in prices, due to COVID and other causes, paying around $478 million to dairy producers.

The changes for the 2022 crop year include:
    Ensuring the Class Pricing Option remains available for purchase even when either the Class III or Class IV milk price is not published.
    Relaxing records requirements by allowing monthly total pounds of milk and milk components (butterfat and protein) to be acceptable records instead of daily.
    Modifying weekend sales period to end on Sunday at 9 a.m. Central Time.

Updates to LGM

LGM is available for cattle, dairy, and swine producers and provides protection against loss of gross margin (market value of livestock minus feed costs). The LGM programs have also seen an increase in participation over the last year. The total insured livestock and livestock products increased approximately 103% from 2019 to 2020.

The changes for the 2022 crop year include allowing producers to purchase coverage on a weekly basis instead of monthly, which will allow producers to be more effective at managing the risks to their operations.

Additional Opportunities

In addition to DRP and LGM, another insurance options for livestock producers is Livestock Risk Protection (LRP), which is available for feeder cattle, fed cattle, and swine. It provides protection against declining market prices. Recent changes, which include increased head limits and additional subsidy increases, have resulted in a 1,000%-plus increase in program participation compared to the 2020 crop year.

Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available online using the RMA Agent Locator. Learn more about crop insurance and the modern farm safety net at

The American Families Plan Honors America’s Family Farms

The American Families Plan includes critical tax reform to ensure that the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes in order to finance essential investments in workers and families, including childcare, nutrition, higher education and more. One of those reforms is a change in the way capital gains are treated in our tax system so that, for people making over $1 million, the tax system no longer favors income from wealth over income from work. The plan won’t raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year.

Part of this plan to make sure the wealthy pay their fair share is a proposal to close the “stepped-up basis” loophole for wealthy estates so that enormous fortunes do not completely escape taxation. Under the proposal, unrealized capital gains (those that have never been previously taxed) are taxed at death above $2 million in gains per couple. But this won’t affect family farms that stay in the family.

    Under this proposal, estimates indicate more than 98% of farm estates will not owe any tax at transfer, provided the farm stays in the family. The tax the remaining less than 2% would owe, would be on their non-farm assets.

The President recognizes the importance of agriculture and family farms to the American economy and way of life. He also recognizes the risks and economic challenges unique to agriculture, family farms and ranching operations across America. The Biden Administration is committed to American agriculture, family farms, ranches and the rural way of life. The American Families Plan protects family farms and ranches in two key ways:
    No capital gains taxes at death for family farms. This plan includes a special protection for family-owned farms and businesses. It defers any tax liability on family farms as long as the farm remains family-owned and operated. No tax is due if the farm stays in the family. No one should have to sell a family farm they inherit to pay taxes and the President’s tax reform guarantees that.
    $2 million exclusion from increased capital gains for all married couples. This plan also excludes the first $2 million of gains per couple ($2.5 million if the farm also includes the family home) from capital gains tax and heirs continue to get step up in basis on those first $2 million in gains. If an heir decides to sell the family farm, the first $2 million in gains is tax free.

How the President’s Capital Gains Reforms Affect Family Farms:

    A married couple with $900,000 of farm gains and $200,000 of non-farm gains passes the farm onto their children. No capital gains taxes are owed, even if they sell the farm because the $1.1 million in gains are below the $2 million per-couple exemption.
    A married couple with $3.0 million of farm gains and $250,000 of non-farm housing gains passes the farm onto their children. No taxes due as long as the children keep the family farm.

The President’s capital gains reforms are a key part of building a tax code that rewards work, and not wealth. The American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan are once-in-a-generation investments in our nation’s future. The American Jobs Plan will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s physical infrastructure and workforce, and spark innovation and manufacturing here at home. The American Families Plan invests $1.8 trillion in our children and our families—helping families cover the basic expenses that so many struggle with now, lowering health insurance premiums, cutting child poverty, and producing a larger, more productive, and healthier workforce in the years ahead. Together, these plans reinvest in the future of American families, American workers, and the American economy.

NCBA Stands Ready to Fight for Sound Tax Policy  

In his American Families Plan, President Biden targets several provisions of the tax code to raise approximately $1.5 trillion in revenue over the next 10 years. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) has long advocated for sound tax policy for rural America.

"Family-owned cattle operations, no matter the size, are the backbone and economic drivers of rural economies across the U.S. Preserving long-standing tax provisions such as stepped-up basis and like-kind exchanges is critical when considering the financial viability of farms and ranches, as well as the ability for the next generation of producers to carry on the family business and conserve the land that has been in their family for generations," said Danielle Beck, NCBA Senior Executive Director of Government Affairs.

The American Families Plan would repeal the deferral of gain for real estate like-kind exchanges for gains greater than $500,000 and eliminate stepped-up basis for gains in excess of $1 million ($2.5 million per couple “when combined with existing real estate exemptions”) and tax said gains on any property not donated to charity. According to the plan, the reform will be designed “with protections so that family-owned businesses and farms will not have to pay taxes when given to heirs who continue to run the business.”

“When considering how to offset the cost of a comprehensive infrastructure package, it is essential that Congress preserve sound tax policies for family-owned agricultural operations. We are committed to holding Members of Congress accountable for legislation that will not adversely impact the viability of farm and ranch businesses, or the next generation's ability to continue to sustainably produce an abundant food supply,” Beck said.

“To be clear, we firmly believe that it would be irresponsible to pay for an infrastructure bill on the backs of farmers and ranchers and with that, counterintuitive with this Administration's conservation agenda. These provisions in the tax code are a determining factor in whether farmers and ranchers access to land is maintained for generations to come, or if that land is fragmented and further threatened by conversion and development, or paved over outright for strip malls and shopping centers,” Beck continued.  

NCBA stands ready to work on both sides of the aisle to ensure that Members of Congress understand the needs of cattle producers in regard to tax policy. We are looking forward to continued conversations with lawmakers through extensive grassroots engagement.

NAWG President Responds to Joint Session Speech

Tonight, President Joseph Biden delivered his remarks before a Joint Session of Congress. NAWG CEO Chandler Goule provided the following statement in response:

 “While the President addressed many issues of importance to the American people, we are eager to hear more about agricultural-related policies, specifically how we can improve farm program delivery and advance a trade agenda that ensures a level playing field for wheat growers. However, what our farmers saw in President Biden’s American Families Plan earlier today includes changes in the stepped-up basis, which raised a lot of questions in wheat country.

“We understand the American Families Plan’s goal is to target the ultra-wealthy and corporations who are able to evade taxes. However, farmers have several concerns about how changes to stepped-up basis and higher capital gains taxes on inherited assets could negatively impact families looking to pass along the farm to the next generation. Although the President’s plan says these reforms will be designed with protection in mind for family-owned businesses and farms, we want more details about how this would be achieved.

 “The new administration plans to address climate-related issues by implementing environmentally-friendly practices. Last week, NAWG launched the new Special Climate and Sustainability Committee. The committee will work together to review wheat sustainable practices that benefit farmers in diverse climates and guide the development of NAWG policy priorities on climate policy. With the committee’s recommendations, NAWG will continue to work with Congress to educate the Hill on the progressive and sustainable tactics farmers practice every day.

 “As the Administration considers a new approach on the world stage, let’s make sure that we continue to work on trade deals that develop, maintain, and expand international markets that keep American wheat producers in a strong position.

“NAWG looks forward to continuing to work with the Administration on ways to improve the livelihood of the American wheat farmer.”

Biden Outlines Priorities for Economic Recovery, Immigration Reform, and Climate Action During Congressional Address

During his first joint address to Congress, President Joe Biden tonight highlighted the progress the United States has made on pandemic recovery and laid out his strategy to create additional jobs and lift more families out of poverty. The linchpin of that strategy is the American Families Plan, a comprehensive package that would invest $1.8 trillion in education, childcare, nutrition assistance, and paid leave.

A longtime advocate of strengthening the nutrition safety net, National Farmers Union (NFU) was heartened by the president’s attention to food insecurity, especially in light of the added challenges caused by the pandemic. “Though the issue of hunger has received a lot of attention over the past year, it certainly isn’t a new problem, and it won’t just disappear when the pandemic ends,” said NFU President Rob Larew. “Fortunately, we already have a safety net to catch families when money is tight – but it isn’t strong or wide enough to support everyone who needs help. President Biden’s bid to expand free school meals and summer EBT is an important step towards reinforcing our existing system so that it can accommodate all Americans experiencing food insecurity.”

To offset the cost of the plan, President Biden is proposing an array of tax reforms, including the elimination of stepped-up basis. In an overview, the White House promised that such a change would “be designed with protections so that family-owned businesses and farms will not have to pay taxes when given to heirs who continue to run the business.”

Larew indicated that he had reservations about the pay-for provisions and sought more information. “While we support many of the recommendations in the American Families Plan, we have questions about how these tax proposals will impact our farms and ranches,” he said. “The devil is in the details.”

President Biden also emphasized the necessity for immigration reform, asking Congress to offer undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship by passing his U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. Under the bill, farm workers would be fast-tracked for naturalization and would be granted greater protections.

NFU expressed its approval of the bill when it was first released in January, saying that it balances the interests of businesses with those of workers, and has continued to promote practical, compassionate immigration policy in the intermediate months. “We’re pleased that President Biden has kept immigration reform among his top priorities,” said Larew. “It’s very clear that our farm labor system is falling short; it is not providing a steady stream of qualified workers for agricultural employers, nor is it offering necessary protections or a clear future for agricultural workers. Because the U.S. Citizenship Act seeks to meet both parties’ needs, it would go a long way towards building the farm labor system we all deserve.”

In addition to economic recovery and immigration reform, climate leadership was a focus of the address. Included on the president’s list of recommendations for action was incentivizing climate-smart agricultural practices, an approach backed by NFU and many other farm groups. “Farmers know that they can be part of the climate solution, and we’re glad to have an ally in the White House who recognizes that potential,” Larew stated. “We hope these statements of support are followed by immediate and aggressive action from both Congress and the administration to provide farmers with the tools they need to respond to this crisis.”

Dates Announced for Export Exchange 2022

A joint statement from U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Ryan LeGrand, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President Geoff Cooper regarding the Export Exchange 2022, Oct. 12-14, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

“COVID dictated we cancel Export Exchange in 2020, and sadly, we have officially canceled it once again for 2021. However, we are excited to offer Export Exchange in 2022. This premier event allows overseas attendees the opportunity to build relationships with U.S. suppliers of distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), corn, sorghum, barley and other commodities, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in grain sales. We look forward to addressing issues facing U.S. exports, including market dynamics, trade policy, risk management and other timely topics as we educate global buyers and build awareness of U.S. grains and co-products.”

Export Exchange, the biennial event co-sponsored by the Council, RFA and Growth Energy, is expected to bring together 200 international buyers and end-users of coarse grains and co-products, including DDGS, with approximately 300 U.S. suppliers and agribusiness representatives.

More information will be distributed in the coming months to members of the grains industries and will be made available online at

Weekly Ethanol Production for 4/23/2021

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending April 23, ethanol production ticked up 0.4%, or 4,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 945,000 b/d, equivalent to 39.69 million gallons daily. Production was 76.0% above the same week last year when the effects of the pandemic were reflected but was 7.7% below the same week in 2019. The four-week average ethanol production rate declined 0.5% to 951,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.58 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks tightened by 3.5% to 19.7 million barrels, the lowest volume since October. This is 25.1% below a year-ago and 13.0% below this time in 2019. Inventories drew down across all regions except the West Coast (PADD 5).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, decreased 2.5% to 8.88 million b/d (136.08 bg annualized). Gasoline demand was 51.5% above a year ago but was 3.8% below the same week in 2019.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol eased by 1.1% to 880,000 b/d, equivalent to 13.49 bg annualized. This was 50.9% above a year ago but was 5.2% below 2019.

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

Ag exporters seek remedy for shipping crisis

As the container shipping crisis continues its crippling effect on U.S. exporters, the Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance joined nearly 300 agricultural and forest product associations and companies – including several SSGA members – this week in signing on to a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, urging immediate intervention to remedy the situation.

“We need action now,” the letter states, “not additional studies.”

SSGA agrees, as U.S. exporters and their access to foreign markets must be protected.

The letter requests that the Department of Transportation assist the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) “in expediting its enforcement options” and “consider its existing authorities” to determine how it can assist U.S. exporters and the ag producers they serve in their transportation needs.

For more than six months, U.S. ag exporters, including SSGA members who supply Identity Preserved soya and specialty grains for food manufacture, have suffered under unreasonable practices by ocean carriers. These practices include the declining of U.S. agricultural and other exports in favor of sending empty containers back overseas in order to keep up with the massive demand for consumer imports.

The imbalance has caused congestion, delays and even cancelation at the ports, and carriers have failed to provide accurate notice of arrival, departure and loading times. Carriers have also imposed unreasonable, punitive financial penalties on exporters, who, through no fault of their own, have missed loading windows. This is in violation of detention and demurrage guidelines set forth by the FMC. SSGA and other associations have previously supported FMC’s investigation into these practices.

It has been estimated that $1.5 billion in ag exports has been lost during this crisis, which has come on the heels of a pandemic that has also severely injured the market.

With no sign of the crisis letting up in the immediate future, SSGA is hopeful that Secretary Buttigieg will act upon this increasingly dire situation. Our members, allies and partners at the Agriculture Transportation Coalition have specific measures to propose and are requesting the opportunity to present them.

ADM Reports First Quarter Earnings of $1.22 per Share, $1.39 per Share on an Adjusted Basis

    Q1 net earnings of $689 million; adjusted net earnings of $783 million
    Adjusted segment operating profit up 86 percent year over year
    Calendar year outlook for 2021 substantially improved; expect significant EPS growth and another record year

ADM (NYSE: ADM) today reported financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2021.

“ADM delivered an outstanding first quarter, building on our great 2020 performance. As expected, we achieved strong earnings spanning all three of our businesses, and a sixth consecutive quarter of year-over-year adjusted operating profit growth,” said Chairman and CEO Juan Luciano.

“Our team executed well across the board, as we continued to find new and innovative ways to meet the evolving needs of our customers. We are seeing clear, favorable demand trends for many of our products, and we expect that pattern to continue as vaccine rollouts accelerate and restrictions ease.

“We are also moving into the next phase of our strategic transformation, which will sharpen our focus on two key pillars — Productivity and Innovation — to enhance our capabilities to deliver outstanding execution, serve customer needs, and power growth and profitability.

“Taking all of these factors into account, our outlook today is even more optimistic than what we shared at the beginning of the year. We expect significant year-over-year growth in earnings across all three of our businesses in 2021, and continued sustainable growth in the years to come.”

Quarterly Results of Operations

Ag Services & Oilseeds achieved a record Q1, with operating profits 84 percent higher year over year.

    Ag Services results were significantly higher versus the first quarter of 2020. In North America, great execution helped capitalize on strong Chinese demand, resulting in an outstanding performance. South American origination results were down significantly due to lower farmer selling versus the prior year. Lower margins, including impacts from the slightly delayed harvest and higher freight costs, also affected South American results. Results for the quarter were impacted by approximately $75 million in negative timing effects related to ocean freight positions; those impacts will reverse in the coming quarters.

    Crushing delivered its best quarter ever, as the business leveraged its diversified global footprint to capture strong execution margins in both soybean and softseed crushing, driven by robust vegetable oil demand and tight soybean stocks. Net timing impacts for the quarter were minimal.

    Refined Products and Other results were higher year over year. While overall volumes were down due to pandemic impacts, margins were stronger in both North America and EMEAI refined oils. Global biodiesel results were lower year over year.

    Equity earnings from Wilmar were lower versus the prior-year period.

Carbohydrate Solutions results were significantly higher than the prior-year period.

    Starches and Sweeteners, including ethanol production from our wet mills, achieved significantly higher results. The business managed risk exceptionally well, capitalizing on rising prices in the ethanol complex and favorable co-product values in an industry environment of improving margins and falling inventories. Corn oil results were significantly higher than the previous year, which had been impacted by substantial mark-to-market effects. In general, though demand for sweeteners and flour by the foodservice sector remained below the prior year, there were signs of acceleration in March.

    Vantage Corn Processors results were substantially higher, driven by improved margins on the distribution of fuel ethanol and strong performance in USP-grade industrial alcohol.

Nutrition delivered solid year-over-year operating profit growth.

    Human Nutrition results were significantly higher than the prior-year quarter. Flavors had an exceptional quarter, driven by strong sales across various market segments, especially beverages. Favorable product mix in North America, improved margins in EMEAI, and accelerated income from a customer agreement also contributed to results, partially offset by certain specific expenses. Specialty Ingredients results were lower, primarily driven by demand factors, including the effect of pantry loading in the previous-year quarter and shifts in demand for texturants. Health and Wellness had a strong start to the year, with robust demand driving higher results in probiotics and fibers.

    Animal Nutrition results were lower versus the first quarter of 2020, driven primarily by lower demand and higher input costs as a result of pandemic effects, primarily in South America. This was partially offset by favorable results in amino acids, driven by improved product mix.

Other Business results were lower than the prior-year period, driven by lower Captive Insurance underwriting results, partially offset by more favorable ADMIS earnings.

USDA Hosts First-Ever Virtual Fair on Food Waste Reduction Innovations and Leaders

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that it will host the first-ever Food Loss and Waste Innovation Fair on May 26 (12 - 4 p.m. ET), to showcase USDA investments and business leadership in reducing food loss and waste throughout the food system.

“In the U.S., more than one-third of all available food goes uneaten through food loss or waste,” said USDA Food Loss and Waste Liaison Jean Buzby. “USDA is proud to highlight public and private leaders who are transforming the food system and combatting food loss and waste.”

The Innovation Fair will present businesses and research teams that have received USDA funding to research or commercialize cutting-edge food loss and waste solutions. Additionally, several USDA agencies – such as the Agricultural Research Service and the Food Safety and Inspection Service – will discuss their food loss and waste activities in research, measurement, education, funding, and outreach. Other presenters include several U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, businesses that have committed to reducing food loss and waste in their operations by 50 percent by 2030. The 2030 Champions initiative is co-led by USDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Among the presenters:

Lake County, Illinois received a USDA grant for a pilot community compost project. Activities include conducting a compost-to-farmland demonstration study, engaging community gardeners through education and outreach, and reducing and diverting food waste from landfills.

En SoluciĆ³n (Austin, Texas) was funded by a USDA Small Business Innovation Research grant to develop and deploy a sanitizer made from ozone nanobubbles to wash harvested produce. This technology has great potential to increase food safety and extend produce shelf life.

ReGrained (San Francisco, California) collaborated with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service to develop patent-pending technology to dry and process brewers grains into healthy, high-quality flours, transforming food waste into value-added – and tasty – products.

Sodexo, a global food service and facilities management corporation, will highlight their change management and operational engagement strategy to cut food waste in half by 2025 to reach their 2030 Champions target early.

This free, virtual event will feature virtual booths where visitors can learn about state-of-the-art solutions from business, government, and academic innovators. Attendees can text chat with representatives and other guests, watch videos, and download reports and other materials. Register today.

The USDA Food Loss and Waste Innovation Fair is among the individual and collective efforts of USDA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to work towards the national goal of reducing food loss and waste by 50 percent by 2030. Learn more about USDA, EPA, and FDA programs and resources to reduce food loss and waste.

CME Group Widens Daily Price Limits for Grains Starting May 2

Daily price limits for Chicago Board of Trade grain and soy futures will expand in May following a routine half-yearly review, CME Group Inc, parent of the exchange, announced last week.

The new limits go into effect on May 2, for trades dated May 3, CME Group said, potentially increasing volatility.

The wider daily limits follow the exchange operator's move on March 15 to expand speculative position limits, raising the number of CBOT futures contracts that non-commercial traders can hold.

CBOT corn, soybean and wheat futures have been trading at the highest prices in nearly a decade, buoyed by tightening global grain supplies.

For corn futures, the daily limit will move to 40 cents per bushel, from the current 25 cents. Limits for CBOT soft red winter wheat futures and K.C. hard red winter wheat futures will rise to 45 cents, from 40 cents.

For soybeans, the daily limit will widen to $1 per bushel, from 70 cents currently. The limit for soymeal futures will expand to $30 per short ton, from $25, and the soyoil limit will rise to 3.5 cents per pound, from 2.5 cents.

Daily limits will widen for oats, rough rice and other CBOT grain futures contracts, as well as lumber futures.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Tuesday April 27 Ag News

 Dairy farmer groups propose Class III Plus for better milk pricing

Four Midwestern dairy groups today announced a Federal Milk Marketing Orders proposal aimed at creating long-term stability in fluid milk pricing and reducing the likelihood of negative producer price differentials that cut into farmers’ revenue last year during the pandemic.

The proposal from the Dairy Business Association (DBA), Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, Minnesota Milk and Nebraska State Dairy Association comes after the groups began studying options early this year. They said the proposal, which they’re calling “Class III Plus,” aims to build upon the current pricing system, recent proposals by dairy cooperatives, and dairy farmer petitions to define a better Class I pricing system.
“Our proposal looks to the future. It would make lasting changes to the milk pricing system that will limit negative PPDs in the future and the possible negative effects from future crises,” DBA President Amy Penterman, a Wisconsin dairy farmer, said.

The Class III Plus proposal would, among other things, tie the Class I (fluid) skim milk price to the Class III (cheese) skim milk price plus an adjuster and do away with advanced pricing, a cause of the negative PPDs last year. The proposal is also revenue-neutral, therefore more equitable among farmers, processors and customers.

The recent call by cooperatives within the National Milk Producers Federation for an emergency FMMO hearing includes a proposal that improves a few components of the current pricing structure, but largely focuses on the short term and revenue that farmers did not earn in 2020, the four groups said.
They said Class III Plus provides a way for farmers to recoup, over the next four years, some of the revenue they might have missed out on in 2020, and also creates stability going forward, including protection from negative PPDs and better risk management ability.
“Cooperatives in our area have long called for a focus on Class III issues,” Lucas Sjostrom, executive director of Minnesota Milk, said. “While those are unfortunately outside the scope of (NMPF’s) hearing request, keeping Class I milk the highest in most scenarios will keep Class III plants in the pool, and provide more orderly marketing for all FMMOs. This is a win for customers, a win for farmers and a win for processors.”

Kris Bousquet, executive director of the Nebraska State Dairy Association, said dairy farmers in his state are “extremely concerned” about the status of the Federal Milk Marketing Orders and how the current structure negatively impacts their milk price.

“The Nebraska State Dairy Association’s priorities while working on this proposal  were that we wanted the pricing structure to be fair to all, and to bring back the farmers’ ability to forward contract. Our joint proposal does just that and is the best path forward for the Nebraska dairy industry,” Bousquet said.

More about Class III Plus:
    Improves risk management and hedging for dairy farmers and processors
    Stops the disassociation of advanced pricing that can cause negative producer price differentials
    Does not increase prices to customers in the long term
    Focuses on being a long-term fix to several existing milk pricing problems, and not just correcting issues of the past 24 months
    Ties Class III (cheese) pricing to Class I (fluid) pricing, which would reduce the need for Class III plants to depool and the negative impact that can have on prices.
    Keeps PPDs positive more often in more marketing orders than the current pricing system
    Utilizes three years of data to annually update Class I skim milk price adjusters to limit any one-year shocks, but also takes into account the changing nature of milk processing

The groups also said NMPF’s proposal would likely result in requests for additional FMMO hearings and more changes just two years from now, causing further disruption and potentially jeopardizing the entire order system.

“We want to make sure that if a hearing is granted, the result will be lasting, beneficial changes to the pricing formula,” Edge President Brody Stapel, who farms in Wisconsin, said. “Federal Milk Marketing Orders need to be reformed, but an extremely limited hearing now, which NMPF is seeking, would destabilize the system rather than solve fundamental issues, which is our ultimate goal.”

 Senators Fischer, Klobuchar Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Advance Precision Ag Technology

U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement after introducing legislation to support the advancement of Internet of Things (IoT) technology for precision agriculture:

“Precision agriculture systems gather important sensor data that can help ag producers do their jobs. However, unreliable signal connectivity or power can restrict Nebraska farmers and ranchers from reliably using this new technology. My new legislation will ensure that research and development consider the unique circumstances facing rural and ag communities,” said Senator Fischer.

“America’s economic well-being depends on the health of our farmlands. This legislation will support agricultural research and help develop new technologies related to farming and ranching. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan bill with Senator Fischer, and I will continue pushing for policies to strengthen rural communities nationwide,” said Senator Klobuchar.

“CropX is very happy to support this effort to advance the adoption of IoT for rural America, including programs to assist rural students pursuing STEM degrees through distance learning. We know from public and private research that adoption of advanced sensor technology in agriculture is lagging behind other industries, affecting not only growers’ ability to compete globally, but also efforts by growers to improve soil health and produce crops in the most sustainable way possible. We commend Senator Fischer’s work to promote advanced technology for on-farm use and are very happy to support this bill,” said John Vikupitz, President of CropX.

“Precision technologies will play an increasingly important role in the continued success of Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers. Increased federal investments in research that will advance precision agriculture is good for our farmers and ranchers and good for Nebraska, where one in four jobs is tied to agriculture. I commend Sen. Fischer for introducing this important legislation,” said Mike Boehm, NU vice president and Harlan Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at UNL.

“I am excited to support Senator Fisher’s bill to promote R&D efforts in precision agriculture technologies. Reducing barriers for technologies to enter rural areas is an important objective to allow innovation to grow in America’s farms and livestock industries. Initiatives such as this help to expedite the development of new technologies that will improve productivity and create a more sustainable future,” said Brian Schupbach, Cofounder of Quantified Ag; Merck Animal Health Intelligence.

“Lindsay supports further investment to support our rural farmers who rely on connected technology to improve efficiency and productivity. Water is a precious resource, and we should take every opportunity to implement the tools needed to improve data reliability in rural areas, supporting increased yields and water conservation,” said Randy Wood, Lindsay Corporation’s President and CEO.

More information about the legislation:
The bill would encourage National Science Foundation (NSF) support for research on advanced sensing systems for rural and agricultural areas, specifically taking into account rural and agricultural environments where there often is unreliable signal connectivity or power. This can affect how connected Internet of Things technologies operate in these settings.

Additionally, this legislation:
    Expands the definition of “advanced technology” for NSF’s Advanced Technical Education (ATE) Program to ensure the inclusion of agriculture-related technology.

    Updates language in NSF’s associate degree programs in STEM fields to consider applications that incorporate distance learning into the curriculum. This would provide additional flexibility for students in rural areas or those who work on a farm or ranch.

    Directs the Government Accountability Office to produce a report that provides a technology assessment of precision agriculture innovations, as well as reviews all existing federal programs that support precision agriculture.

Senator Fischer has been a leader on advancing IoT technology. Last year, the Senate passed her bipartisan DIGIT Act, which became law. That legislation convenes a working group of federal entities and private sector experts to facilitate the growth of IoT, particularly in key sectors such as agriculture, transportation, and health care.

Irrigation Innovation Consortium Funds Three Water for Food Faculty Fellow Projects

The Irrigation Innovation Consortium (IIC) recently announced funding for seven research projects in 2021, three of which are led by Faculty Fellows of the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute (DWFI). The IIC is a university and industry collaboration that accelerates the development and adoption of water- and energy-efficient irrigation technology. DWFI and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln jointly are a founding member of the consortium and DWFI Director of Research Christopher Neale serves on its Executive Committee.
“The IIC brings together university and industry partners to accelerate the development and adoption of new irrigation technologies,” said Neale. “The IIC is a great partner in helping DWFI achieve its mission of global food security without compromising the use of water to meet other vital needs.”
Projects selected include:

Towards Pivot Automation with Proximal Sensing for Maize and Soybean in the Great Plains

    Goal: Developing thresholds that trigger irrigation events configured for the sub-humid climate of the eastern Great Plains, evaluating an existing patented system, evaluating the accuracy of irrigation sensors and comparing crop health and water stress of maize and soybean.
    Principal Investigator: Derek Heeren, DWFI Faculty Fellow, Associate Professor, University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL)
    Co-Principal Investigators: Christopher M. U. Neale, Director of Research, DWFI; Yufeng Ge, DWFI Faculty Fellow, Associate Professor, UNL; Geng Bai, Research Assistant Professor, UNL
    Collaborators: Nate Dorsey, Manager of Agriculture Technology, Valmont Industries; Susan O’Shaughnessy, Research Agricultural Engineer, USDA ARS; Wayne E. Woldt, DWFI Faculty Fellow, Associate Professor, UNL; John A. Kastl, Senior Director of Innovation and Intellectual Property, Valmont Industries; Daran Rudnick, DWFI Faculty Fellow, Assistant Professor, UNL; Steven R. Evett, Research Soil Scientist, USDA ARS; Trenton Franz, DWFI Faculty Fellow, Associate Professor, UNL; Sandeep Bhatti, Ph.D. Student, UNL; Steve R. Melvin, Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension; Troy Ingram, Assistant Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension
    Industry Partner: Valmont
    Location: Nebraska
    Budget: $50,061.00 (Total investment, with match: $113,355.00)
    Cash Match: $57,994.00
    In-Kind Match: $5,300.00
Improved irrigation scheduling combining soil water supply and atmospheric evaporative demand

    Goal: Quantify and compare the water efficiency (i.e. yield per applied irrigation) of the SDD algorithm vs. other common irrigation practices at two study sites in Nebraska using randomized trial with three replicates
    Principal Investigator: Trenton Franz, DWFI Faculty Fellow, Associate Professor, UNL
    Industry Partners: Aspiring Universe Corporation, Arable Labs, Inc., HydroInnova LLC, Corteva, PlanetLabs Inc., UNL, Biological Systems Engineering and School of Natural Resources
    Project Team Co-Investigators: Derek Heeren, DWFI Faculty Fellow, Associate Professor, UNL; Daran Rudnick, DWFI Faculty Fellow, Assistant Professor, UNL
    Team Members: Sibo Wang, Chief Research Officer, Aspiring Universe Corporation; Loreli Carranza, Field Scientist, Arable Labs, Inc; Darin Desilets, Owner, HydroInnova LLC; Justin Gibson, Data Scientist, Corteva; Rasmus Houborg, Principal Geospatial Fusion Engineer/Scientist, PlanetLabs Inc; Olufemi Abimbola, Postdoctoral Associate, UNL
    Subcontractor: Aspiring Universe Corporation
    Advisor: Kaiyu Guan, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
    Location: Nebraska
    Budget: $83,333.33 (Total investment, with match: $257,777.33)

Connecting Field-Scale Performance to Watershed Health: The Added Power of Sharing Data

    Goal: Improving algorithms that estimate water delivery through the growing season using electrical power consumption data for systems that experience static or dynamic aquifer levels through the growing season and communicating the results to irrigators and water managers. The information generated from this research is providing irrigators and watershed managers knowledge of real-time water use to support optimal data-based management decisions.
    Principal Investigator: Dayle McDermitt, DWFI Faculty Fellow, Adjunct Professor, UNL, Nebraska Water Balance Alliance (NEWBA)
    Project Team Members: Billy Tiller, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, GiSC; Mark Cox, Chief Technical Officer, GiSC; Amy Harsch, Project Facilitator, NEWBA; Jim Schneider, Senior Scientist/Groundwater, Olsson; Erin Haacker, Assistant Professor of Hydrology, UNL; Bradley Dowell, Graduate Student, UNL.
    Industry Partners: Grower Information Services Cooperative (GiSC), NEWBA, Olsson, Midwest Electric, Dawson Public Power, Paulman Farms, Twin Platte Natural Resource District, UNL, Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences
    Location: Nebraska
    Budget: $113,083.33 (Total investment, with match: $256,983.51)
    Cash Match: $102,950.18
    In-Kind Match: $40,950.00
Launched in 2018 with a $5 million contribution from the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR), the IIC leverages public-private partnerships to maximize impacts from investment in irrigation research. By 2023, with matching support for every FFAR dollar, an investment of at least $10 million will have supported IIC-related projects and activities. This year, the consortium awarded a total of $533,126 in FFAR funding to selected projects. Through collaboration with partnering institutions and industry, these teams are bringing an additional $979,424 in match to support their innovative research and outreach efforts.
As freshwater resources become ever more precious globally, research in irrigation technology is critically needed to optimize systems and maximize efficiency. Water use efficiency is necessary to ensure resiliency in agricultural and landscape systems. Through the consortium, industry and the public sector co-develop, test, prototype and improve equipment, technology and decision-support systems. IIC-funded research is equipping today’s turf managers, farmers, and water district managers with cutting-edge, more user-friendly tools and technologies that have the potential to transform how water is used and managed in the future.
“We believe that a growing network and increased collaboration is necessary for innovation,” said Tim Martin, Executive Director of IIC.
Projects were selected through a competitive review process that weighed and prioritized projects according to their innovation, scientific merit, inter-institutional collaboration, outreach plans, and potential for impact.  


– Jerry Volesky, NE Extension
The time for turn-out to our primary summer pastures is coming soon.  A couple of important questions are what date to turn-out, and which pastures should be first?
For mixed cool- and warm-season native grass pastures, it is important to allow the cool-season grasses to reach at least a 3-leaf stage.  Initial grass growth in the spring comes from energy reserves stored in the roots and crowns of the grass plant. Grazing too soon could cause a depletion of those reserves and reduce production because there was not enough leaf area present to adequately begin producing energy from photosynthesis.
We must also remember that the amount of growth at a specific date can vary each year based on spring temperatures and precipitation.  When the potential for drought is present, delaying turn-out and continuing to feed hay is recommended.  This will allow the grass plants to maximize growth given the current soil moisture conditions, and result in greater season-long production.
When grazing multiple native grass pastures in a rotation, it is beneficial to change the sequence or order of grazing for the set of pastures. This change in the time of grazing each year benefits the overall health and vigor of the grasses. For producers that have both native range and introduced grass pasture such as smooth bromegrass or crested wheatgrass, grazing the introduced grass pastures first is a great approach to use that resource and allows for a later turn-out on the native pastures.

As lawmakers debate bills, Center offers recommendations to strengthen food access

Across the country, states have been increasingly innovative in finding ways to integrate the goals of eliminating hunger and strengthening local food systems, according to a white paper released today by the Center for Rural Affairs.

“Hunger and the Local Economy: Integrated State-Level Approaches to Food Access,” authored by Nathan Beacom, senior policy associate for the Center, explores the role of local grocery stores, gives examples of state policies designed to make food more accessible, and offers recommendations to lawmakers on ways to address the broader causes of food access and food insecurity in rural areas.

“Food access policy can also be an economic development policy; these goals work hand in hand,” Beacom said. “A strong local food system means more employment, better jobs, a stronger economy, and more access. This kind of win-win policy addresses the immediate needs, as well as the underlying causes of food insecurity.”

The paper’s release comes as the Nebraska Legislature prepares for second-round debate on Legislative Bill (LB) 108, which could come as early as tomorrow, Wednesday, April 28. The bill, introduced by Sen. John McCollister, seeks to fix a flaw known as the “cliff effect” in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“More and more we find that when a SNAP recipient gets a raise at work, that increased income is not enough to offset their loss in SNAP benefits,” Beacom said. “LB 108 allows people to taper off their benefits until they make enough to replace them.. This bill is especially important to rural communities, where food insecurity is higher than urban areas, and where grocers and farmers markets rely on SNAP income.”

Two other bills addressing improvements to the state’s food system are also being debated this session.

LB 324 would provide small meat lockers with resources to grow their businesses and make it easier for people to get meat directly from a farmer, and LB 396 would establish a statewide network to support the growth of farm to school programs. Both bills were introduced by Sen. Tom Brandt.

The white paper is available at

Statement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the Intent to Nominate Jennifer Lester Moffitt to Serve as Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs

“Jenny Moffitt’s nomination to serve as Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs demonstrates that USDA is committed to putting the perspective of our producers at the heart of what we do. Jenny currently serves as the Undersecretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and previously served as Deputy Secretary for the agency. Prior to her time with CDFA, Jenny spent 10 years as Managing Director at Dixon Ridge Farms, her family’s organic walnut farm and processing operation in Solano County, California. Jenny says that growing up and working on the farm solidified the importance of taking care of the land and the people who farm it. If confirmed, Jenny will join a mission area that is focused on facilitating the domestic and international marketing of U.S. agricultural products, ensuring the health and care of animals and plants, and setting national and international standards – all tasks that she is well suited to take on. With her guidance and leadership, USDA will help to build more robust and resilient local and regional food systems that support new, fairer market opportunities for American producers and food companies. She will be a welcomed addition to a growing USDA team.”

USDA Dairy Products 2020 Production Summary

Total number of dairy product production plants, all types
Nebraska ......:             7 (2019)  -  7 (2020)   
Iowa .............:            23 (2019) - 26 (2020)   
United States.:      1,270 (2019)  - 1,242 (2020)

Total cheese production in 2020, excluding cottage cheeses, was 13.3 billion pounds, 0.9 percent above 2019 production. Wisconsin was the leading State with 25.6 percent of the production.

Iowa cheese production
2020 - 355,222,000 lbs. from 14 processing plants
2019 - 333,932,000 lbs. from 11 processing plants

Italian varieties, with 5.63 billion pounds was 0.8 percent below 2019 production and accounted for 42.4 percent of total cheese in 2020. Mozzarella accounted for 79.1 percent of the Italian production followed by Parmesan with 7.4 percent and Provolone with 6.5 percent. Wisconsin was the leading State in Italian cheese production with 29.3 percent of the production.

American type cheese production was 5.34 billion pounds, 2.0 percent above 2019 and accounted for 40.3 percent of total cheese in 2020. Wisconsin was the leading State in American type cheese production with 19.9 percent of the production.

Butter production in the United States during 2020 totaled 2.15 billion pounds, 7.6 percent above 2019. California was the leading state in Butter production with 31.1 percent of the production.

Butter Production, Central States: (Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin)
2020 - 833,801,000 lbs. in 35 production plants
2019 - 772,745,000 lbs. in 33 production plants

Dry milk powders (2020 United States production, comparisons in percentage with 2019)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 1.99 billion pounds, up 7.6 percent.
Skim milk powders - 695 million pounds, up 21.4 percent.

Whey products (2020 United States production, comparisons in percentage with 2019)
Dry whey, total - 951 million pounds, down 2.7 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 1.10 billion pounds, down 10.1 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 478 million pounds, down 2.7 percent.

Frozen products (2020 United States production, comparisons in percentage with 2019)
Ice cream, Regular (total) - 914 million gallons, up 3.9 percent.
Ice cream, Lowfat (total) - 482 million gallons, up 1.8 percent.
Sherbet (total) - 37.6 million gallons, down 15.4 percent.
Frozen Yogurt (total) - 35.5 million gallons, down 37.7 percent. 

FFAR Grant Examines Carbon Farming Effect on Soil Health

Agriculture is often seen as a climate change contributor; however, it can also be a natural climate change solution. Employing carbon farming techniques, a broad set of agricultural practices that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it for long periods of time in soil, can reduce carbon emissions from agriculture. The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $616,178 Seeding Solutions grant to Point Blue Conservation Science (Point Blue) to develop a multifaceted project that optimizes soil health management practices on rangelands in California. Mad Agriculture and Colorado State University both provided matching funds for a $1,281,584 total investment.

Common agricultural practices like driving a tractor, tilling the soil, and using fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides result in the release of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. However, through sustainable farming techniques, carbon can be stored long term in the soil, a process referred to as carbon sequestration. Employing carbon farm practices can further improve soil health and environmental health by increasing carbon sequestration.

Knowledge gaps about commonly recommended management practices make it difficult to quantify how the carbon farm process affects carbon levels. Providing additional information about this process will help resource managers and policymakers prioritize programs and funding.

“Carbon farming provides significant benefits to the ecosystem; however, we don’t know enough about how to most efficiently implement it,” said FFAR Executive Director Dr. Sally Rockey. “This research is providing much-needed knowledge on the best soil management practices to pull more carbon from the atmosphere.”

Point Blue researchers, led by Dr. Chelsea Carey, are developing standardized protocols that can be used with existing soil health programs to track how soil health and carbon sequestration change in response to carbon farming practices over time.

Along with collaborators at Colorado State University and Mad Agriculture, Dr. Carey and her team are generating data from carbon farm planning practices and building an evidence base to establish carbon farming as a proven and scalable model for advancing climate action. Researchers are measuring how above and below ground carbon changes over a 15-to-20-year period when carbon farming practices are used on rangelands. This data will then be used to evaluate predictive models that support planning tools, such as COMET-Planner, which helps farmers and ranchers estimate carbon sequestration.

According to Dr. Carey, “The team will be asking questions like: how much carbon is sequestered with these practices, and how fast does this occur? Is the carbon likely to stay in the soil long enough to make a difference for climate change mitigation? And what are the associated benefits to soil fertility?”

“We see a lot of opportunity with the current momentum in California around natural and working lands stewardship,” said Carey. “We’re excited to support these efforts by engaging our network of partners including ranchers, other scientists and agency staff to conduct science and support ecological monitoring that’s both relevant and impactful.”  

USDA Agency and Company Partner to Explore Personal Care Products from Hemp

Expanding the market for hemp seed oil is the goal of a new cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) involving Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and the Midwest Bioprocessing Center (MBC), a Peoria, Illinois-based firm specializing in organic chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

At the heart of the 24-month agreement is a patented process that a team of chemists with the ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria developed, called “bio-catalysis.” In short, it involves using enzymes and heat rather than harsh chemicals and solvents to catalyze reactions that bind natural antioxidants like ferulic acid to lipids in soybean and other vegetable oils.

In prior research, the team used the process to create a class of compounds called feruloyl soy glycerides (FSGs) from soybean oil. These were subsequently licensed and commercialized for use as ingredients in skin- and personal-care products because of the ultraviolet (UV) absorbance and antioxidant properties that they offered.

Now, under the cooperative agreement with MBC, the team will explore creating similar ferulic-acid-based ingredients from bio-catalyzed hemp seed oil, potentially broadening the market for this commodity from an estimated 90,000 U.S. acres of industrial hemp, a type of Cannabis sativa that was legalized under the Farm Bill of 2018.

Hemp seed oil today is popularly used in cannabidiol-containing products for perceived health benefits. However, like soy or corn oil, hemp oil also contains a variety of nutrients, fatty acids (including omega-3 fatty acids) and bioactive compounds that can be transformed into specialty chemicals offering useful new properties.

Toward that end, the ARS-MBC team will focus on bio-catalyzing hemp oil to make “cosmeceuticals”—skin-care ingredients that perform specific functions, like protecting skin from UV light, retaining moisture, or stabilizing other active ingredients used in skin-care formulations.

“Collaborating with industry partners like MBC, which has expertise in enzymology and the infrastructure for scale-up, is critical to exploring expanded uses for our original technology,” said Compton, with the ARS center’s Renewable Technologies Research Unit in Peoria.

The research unit is one of seven comprising the NCAUR that collectively specialize in researching value-added uses for agricultural commodities as well as the byproducts of their manufacture into other processed goods.   

The NCAUR has also played a lead role in devising sustainable approaches to processing these commodities with an eye towards expanding economic opportunities for growers of both established crops like corn, wheat and soybean, as well as emerging ones, like cuphea and industrial hemp.

In addition to opening the door to the cosmetics and personal care markets, NCAUR scientists are researching ways to better process hemp into fuels, lubricants and adhesives, as well as functional food ingredients and fiber products.

Loveland Products C2 Technology Plays Critical Role in Nutrient Management

As the prices of key crop production nutrients continues to rise, Loveland Products’ C2 Technology products, a proprietary product line of Nutrien Ag Solutions,  are playing a critical role in helping producers manage nutrients while getting the most out of nutritional inputs.

Nutritional solutions powered by C2 Technology from Loveland Products unlock the power of a grower’s soil, and are an effective way to maximize the benefit of nutritional applications. C2 Technology is a unique nutrient management platform that drives nutrient-use efficiency and, at the same time, improves soil health. It is a library of substances containing various carbon compounds, including carbohydrates, which boost biological activity in the soil. In addition, those compounds improve the soil’s ability to hold both water and nutrients.

“We have seen  the prices for key nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen rise significantly over the past six months,” reports Joe Vaillancourt, Product Marketing Manager with Loveland Products. “Maximizing  the efficacy of these nutrients to make sure they are available for plant uptake is important both from an economic and environmental perspective. Choosing fertilizers that are powered by C2 Technology ensures plants will get the optimum benefit from those nutrients.”

How C2 Technology Works
•    Unique carbon components in C2 technology drive chemical and biological activity in the soil and promote better soil structure.
•    Proprietary extraction methods produce customized extractions of carbon-based compounds that meet the specific needs of each nutrient with which they are combined.
•    The carbohydrates in C2 Technology act as a food source for beneficial soil microbes.
•    These carbohydrates also assist in complexing nutrients, so they are more available to plants.
•     Nutrients in the various products powered by C2 Technology are combined with carbon and carbohydrates to form protected nutrients. This process results in increased fertilizer efficiency and reduced soil tie-up.
•    This complexing of nutrients also enables flexibility in application.

Loveland Products produces a wide array of fertilizer products powered by C2 Technology, which are available only at Nutrien Ag Solutions retail locations across the U.S.

No matter what challenges a grower faces in the field, Loveland Products makes a fertilizer powered by C2 Technology that can effectively deliver nutrition and improve the health of their soil. Research shows that use of C2 Technology leads to improved soil health and productivity. By using products built with C2 Technology, growers will leave the soil healthier than when they began farming it.