Thursday, July 29, 2021

Thursday July 29 Ag News

Ben Beckman, NE Extension Educator

Corn silage harvest may seem like a long way off, but preparation for a successful harvest begins now.  Improper silage storage and fermentation can result in losses up to 20% prior to feeding. Plan your storage now to keep excessive storage losses from happening to you.

Preventing oxygen from entering your silage should be a top priority when considering silage storage. Bagged silage is a versatile option that allows the storage location to move year to year.  Placing the silage in a bunker is optimal for excluding oxygen, but make sure to check these structures for cracks and repair any that are found to maintain their integrity.  If silage is a feedstuff on your operation, the reduction in losses that a permanent structure provides can offset the costs when spread out over several years.

Silage piles are the more traditional approach and can allow for greater volumes of silage to be stored in a smaller area. Oxygen exclusion in piles that lack a permanent structure can be enhanced with some planning.  Before harvesting, line the sides with bales and place oxygen-limiting plastic down the sides and for several feet under the bottom to seal the sides of the pile.  At a minimum, placing plastic on top of the pile is an investment worth the time, labor, and money.  By covering the pile, we can reduce oxygen from moving into the pile from the top and reduce precipitation exposure. Increased moisture can lead to spoilage, and result in the pile “weeping” and leaching out valuable energy and protein.

Corn silage is a valuable feed resource but suffers from high dry matter losses when stored incorrectly.  Keeping oxygen out of your silage requires planning now. Pick an appropriate location for harvest and feed out success and store correctly to minimize feed losses.

Webinar on early weaning calves to cover nutrition, management practices

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Agricultural Profitability will host a webinar on early weaning beef calves at noon on Aug. 5.

Early weaning can be a helpful management practice for many cow/calf operations, especially where quality forages may be lacking due to drought and other factors. How calves are managed depends largely on the age of the animals the goals of the producer.

The webinar will explore different options and best practices for early weaning, covering nutrition, costs and potential benefits. It will focus on management-related topics like digestibility, passage rate through the rumen, vaccinations and feeding. Economic considerations covered will include breakeven costs for feeding, risk management tools, marketing and more.

Panelists will include Karla Wilke, a cow/calf specialist in the university’s Department of Animal Science; Randy Saner, a beef systems educator with Nebraska Extension; Matt Stockton, an agricultural economics specialist with Nebraska Extension; and Jay Parsons, a farm and ranch management specialist in the Department of Agricultural Economics.

It is presented as part of the Center for Agricultural Profitability’s weekly webinar series, held every Thursday at noon.

The Center for Agricultural Profitability opened June 28 to support informed economic decision-making in agriculture through research, extension and education. It is housed in the Department of Agricultural Economics. For more about the center, and to register for the Aug. 5 webinar, visit


The use of “digital twins,” virtual copies of physical objects and operations, is gaining steam across a wide range of industries. Updated constantly with real-time data, these virtual mirrors allow engineers to keep an eye on and predict traffic flow, retailers to optimize supply chains and railway operators to spot wear and tear on tracks. Researchers are even working toward digital twins of the human heart, which would let doctors diagnose, treat and monitor patients from afar.

Until now, the technology had not been widely employed in agriculture, even as the world races to secure a sustainable food supply for a population on track to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050. Today, the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced a five-year, $20 million grant to establish the AI Institute for Resilient Agriculture, or AIIRA. It’s part of a $200 million federal effort to develop artificial intelligence hubs that address a variety of national needs.

A collaboration of eight institutions — including the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and led by Iowa State University — is launching the institute with the aim of deploying digital twins, powered by advances in artificial intelligence, throughout the agricultural space.

“In the tradition of USDA-NIFA investments, these new institutes leverage the scientific power of U.S. land-grant universities informed by close partnerships with farmers, producers, educators and innovators to provide sustainable crop production solutions and address these pressing societal challenges,” said Carrie Castille, USDA-NIFA director. “These innovation centers will speed our ability to meet the critical needs in the future agricultural workforce, providing equitable and fair market access, increasing nutrition security and providing tools for climate-smart agriculture.”

AIIRA was one of 11 NSF-led AI institutes announced July 29, which join seven that were launched in August 2020.

The AIIRA research team, which includes Husker plant geneticist James Schnable, believes the technology may help ramp up food production by enabling farmers to increase yields and plant breeders to strategically improve varieties. Schnable brings to the project Nebraska’s diverse geography, climate and soil — variations that are key to understanding how plants behave under different circumstances, including accelerating climate change and decreasing available cropland.

He will tap into the university’s Research and Extension Centers, which span the state from a site just outside of Lincoln to the Panhandle Research and Extension Center — located 400 miles to the west, at 2,700 feet higher in elevation and with only half of Lincoln’s precipitation — to grow, test and genetically analyze various corn and sorghum varieties during the project.

“In Nebraska, we’re able to evaluate crops under a wide range of different stressful conditions,” said Schnable, associate professor and the Charles O. Gardner Professor of Agronomy. “Only a few states have the geography to make that possible, and of those, few have made the necessary investments in facilities and people. It’s a really unique asset we have here, and it’s a big part of what I’m able to leverage to get big consortiums interested in doing research in Nebraska.”

The collaboration also includes New York University, the University of Arizona, George Mason University, the University of Missouri, the Iowa Soybean Association and Carnegie Mellon University, home to the world-class AI expertise that will power development of the digital twins. The institute also includes partners from the tech and agriculture industries, governments, commodity groups and other organizations.

To bring digital twinning to agriculture, the researchers are capitalizing on increasingly sophisticated plant, soil and weather sensors and automated devices such as drones and robots. These technologies transmit real-time data — such as weather information, water and nitrogen measurements, and soil and topography maps — to predictive digital twins, which also incorporate data reflecting the latest understanding of plant growth and development. The team will twin both individual plants and entire farm fields.

Digital twins overcome real-world constraints on the number of experiments researchers can run on crops in the real world, where a breeder might evaluate 2,000 potential new varieties in a single environment, or an agronomist might test five levels of fertilizer application on 10 hybrids at a dozen locations, each with their own unique combination of weather and soil properties. Digital twinning circumvents that, enabling researchers and producers to simulate endless what-if scenarios and apply their findings to on-the-ground decision making.

“Creating a digital twin means building a model of how plants perceive and respond to their environment,” Schnable said. “Once we have that, we can run hundreds of thousands of different simulations where we put the digital twin of an individual corn plant or a whole field through different weather or agronomic practices, or make specific changes to the plant we know is possible to achieve through breeding. Running all these simulations lets us prioritize which combinations of plant genetics and farm management practices are likely to give the best outcomes for farmers in specific environments.”

For farmers, this could eventually translate into a decision support tool that provides actionable information. Today, farmers make decisions about which hybrid to plant, and the timing and amount of irrigation and fertilizer, based on their knowledge of the weather, their farm’s soil and previous experiences. But for farmers who may have only 40 growing seasons in their careers, big changes can be risky. Digital twins would let them test out a wider range of options on a computer, helping farmers maximize profit and minimize environmental impact.

For Nebraska, participating in the institute is an opportunity to strengthen its position as a national leader in agricultural resilience. Collaborating with global experts in AI will advance the university’s extensive work in this area and underscores Nebraska’s commitment to its Grand Challenges, which include climate resilience and sustainable food and water security.

“We’re getting to work with and build new connections with some of the world leaders in AI,” Schnable said. “Just in the process of organizing the team and writing the proposal, I’m already seeing folks develop a new excitement about the research questions and problems of agriculture and stress biology.”

Fischer, Colleagues to Biden: Biofuels Noticeably Absent From Your Agenda

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, joined several of her colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden requesting a meeting with him and representatives of his cabinet to discuss the Renewable Fuel Standard and promote biofuels as a key solution for America’s energy and climate agenda. The Biden administration’s energy and climate agenda lacks meaningful consideration of biofuels, which contribute significantly to emissions reductions and energy security and serve as an important market-driver for farmers.

“We seek an audience to discuss the tremendous opportunity that biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel present to bolster affordable American energy, underpin a strong agricultural economy, and immediately lower transportation emissions using the existing consumer vehicle fleet and fueling infrastructure,” wrote the senators.

They continued: “Unfortunately, the promise of homegrown biofuels and our agriculture sector appear to be woefully underrepresented in your administration’s energy, environmental, and transportation agenda.”

The letter was led by Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) In addition to Senators Thune and Fischer, also cosigning the letter were Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.).

Full text of the letter below:

Dear President Biden:
We write to request a meeting with you and members of your Cabinet regarding your energy and environmental agenda.  Specifically, we seek an audience to discuss the tremendous opportunity that biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel present to bolster affordable American energy, underpin a strong agricultural economy, and immediately lower transportation emissions using the existing consumer vehicle fleet and fueling infrastructure.  Unfortunately, the promise of homegrown biofuels and our agriculture sector appear to be woefully underrepresented in your administration’s energy, environmental, and transportation agenda.

You have made clear your interest in going all-in on electric vehicles (EVs) despite the outstanding costs, critical mineral constraints and related labor exploitation, electricity generation and transmission demands, consumer needs, and other unresolved aspects of this ambition.  While we recognize that EVs will eventually play an increased role in America’s transportation and energy future, and that American innovation and ingenuity will overcome some of the hurdles faced by this nascent industry, we urge you to not look beyond the current generation of biofuels technology and forgo the meaningful reduction in carbon emissions they can provide.  Recent studies have found corn ethanol to have 46 percent lower lifecycle emissions than gasoline, and proven advancements like ethanol derived from corn kernel fiber, when combined with increasingly efficient farming practices, can reduce lifecycle emissions as much as 70 percent. Expanded investment in carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) will further lower the lifecycle carbon intensity of biofuels, approaching net-zero or even net-negative emissions.

We hope to discuss with you immediate and intermediate steps your administration can take to feature American agriculture and biofuels as part of your energy and environmental agenda.  Two foundational actions would be to direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to adopt modern greenhouse gas modeling for renewable fuels (specifically, Argonne National Laboratory’s Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation (GREET) Model) and approve long-stalled registrations for advanced, cleaner fuels.  These two straightforward acts would acknowledge that modern farming practices and the domestic research and private investment spurred by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) have produced cleaner fuels and reduced emissions—an acknowledgement that would spur expanded utilization of these low carbon fuels.

Through formally recognizing the reduced carbon emissions of American biofuels and enabling greater utilization of advanced biofuels on the U.S. market, your administration can also foster expanded export opportunities to countries like the United Kingdom and India that are implementing clean fuel standards and other programs to lower their transportation emissions.  Homegrown, American biofuels are a prime candidate for reducing our trade deficits, and updating EPA’s modeling and advancing fuel registrations, which can simply be done through administrative action, can help unlock this potential.  Additionally, updated and current modeling across related industries and for associated feedstocks will further highlight the environmental contributions of the bio-based economy.  Modern technologies should be evaluated on a level playing field, and we are confident that the many environmental and economic benefits of biotechnologies and efficient agriculture, especially biofuels, will be self-evident when scored fairly.

Further, the administration can maximize near-term emissions reductions through its support for biofuel blending infrastructure, expanding on the efforts of the Department of Agriculture.  We were dismayed to see the administration first promote in its infrastructure proposal $174 billion in EV investment compared to a substantially smaller $15 billion program for which renewable fuels would be one of numerous competing technologies.  If the administration is serious about achieving near-term emissions reductions in the transportation sector, it should support, at a minimum, investment parity for biofuel technologies and policies like CCUS that will further lower the lifecycle carbon intensity of fuels.  EPA has approved over 97 percent of the vehicles on the road today to run on E15 fuel; the administration should take aggressive action to enable millions of American drivers to reduce their emissions via higher biofuel blends, including year-round access to E15 and reducing other regulatory hurdles.

Lastly, the administration should rigorously implement and enforce the RFS in accordance with Congress’ clear intent, restoring integrity to the program.  Recent court proceedings have sought to undermine the RFS by expanding opportunities for oil refineries to evade their blending obligations via small refinery exemptions (SREs) and by contesting the ability to sell E15 fuel year-round. EPA should require SRE petitioners to prove an actual “disproportionate economic hardship” for compliance costs that are not ultimately recovered by the petitioner, and EPA should put forth robust, timely renewable volume obligations that reallocate any gallons waived by SREs.  Of course, blending targets can be more easily met—and the associated credits (renewable identification numbers) more easily obtained—through the higher rates of blending afforded by year-round E15.

Mr. President, these are but a few administrative actions you can direct to further advance American energy security, expand consumer access to affordable energy, and reinforce gains in environmental stewardship, all while supporting a rural economy that looks forward to capitalizing on its full potential.  We look forward to the prospect of discussing these policies with you and leaders of your administration to ensure they are quickly incorporated in your ongoing deliberations.  Given the bipartisan support for biofuels and leveraging the agricultural economy as energy and environmental solutions, including the aforementioned policies, we would welcome including our Democratic colleagues in such a dialogue.

Thank you for your timely attention to these matters.  We hope you will take the necessary action to utilize homegrown biofuels as an American energy solution and look forward to a productive discussion.

IFBF Welcomes New Leaders to Young Farmer Committee

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) Young Farmer Advisory Committee has elected new leaders for 2021-22. These officers and district representatives are committed to uniting young farmers, ages 18-35, throughout the state through engaging programs and events, including the annual IFBF Young Farmer Conference, which draws hundreds of young farmers and agribusiness leaders together to connect and share ideas. Elected to officer positions were:
- Randy Francois, Buchanan County, Chair
- Kristin Plate, Mahaska County, Vice-Chair
- Megan Hansen, East Pottawattamie County, Secretary

- Vanessa Trampel, Hancock County, Historian
- Dee Pickard, Marshall County, PR Chair

Randy Francois and his wife, Megan, raise grain and hogs on their northeastern Iowa farm. Megan works as a consumer and mortgage lender, and the pair have two young children who keep them busy, in addition to other farm work like hauling manure and delivering feeds. Randy is a graduate of the IFBF Ag Leaders Institute, serves on the Buchanan County Farm Bureau board and is a past Young Farmer Discussion Meet competition participant.

"The farmers I've met from across the state through the Young Farmer Program are innovative, resilient and forward-thinking," says Francois. "It's exciting to see all these great minds come together throughout the year to share ideas related to how to improve the family farm, as well as our local communities, through rural vitality efforts and helping those in need."

Kristin Plate returned to the farm in 2010 after living in five states and four countries, following her husband, Sherwin's, U.S. Army orders. They have three kids and raise grain and hogs. Plate also substitutes at her children's school and teaches bible studies to three- and four-year-olds.

Megan Hansen along with husband, Dan, have three kids and own and manage Ag Decisions Services LCC, an ag consulting business focused on fertility management, seeding prescriptions and soil sampling for the Granular Agronomy, Pivot Bio and Soil Analytics brands. Hansen has also represented Iowa in the American Farm Bureau national discussion meet.

Vanessa Trampel is a licensed practical nurse, and her husband, Kody, is a crop specialist. The two raise corn, soybeans, alfalfa, cattle and hogs on their farm along with two children. The Trampels are active Hancock County Farm Bureau members, serve with North Iowa Ag in the Classroom and are members of the Garner Chamber of Commerce.

Dee Pickard works full time at a medical clinic and coaches high school color guard. With her husband, Brandon, and two children, the family raises grain, cattle and hogs. Outside of their Farm Bureau involvement, the couple enjoys playing slow pitch softball, golfing and shuttling their kids to various activities like volleyball and 4-H.

"Our young farmer program has a long history of building strong agricultural and community leaders," says IFBF President Craig Hill. "These young people see things from a different perspective, take risks, try new things, and even older generations are learning from them. Iowa Farm Bureau is proud to support these farmers who have a passion for agriculture and dare to do more."

New district representatives joining the committee include Kody and Vanessa Trampel of Hancock County, Sam and Danielle Bennett of Ida County and Cordt and Krista Holub of Tama County. These new committee members will serve three-year terms as communicators for their districts.

The 2022 Young Farmer Conference will take place Jan. 28 and 29.

Council Checks In With Overseas Leaders During Second Day of Summer Meeting

U.S. grain sector leaders met in Des Moines and online Thursday as part of the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) summer annual meeting, focused on better understanding the challenges affecting their industry, from sustainability to cybersecurity, and engaging with Council staff in many of the markets to which their exports are headed despite still being affected by COVID-19 pandemic.

This morning’s general session allowed attendees to hear from USGC regional directors in Latin America, South Asia and the Middle East, Africa and Europe and get market updates on the two largest markets for U.S. grains – China and Mexico.

"Mexico is extremely important to the United States, feed grains and the Council's work," said Cary Sifferath, USGC senior director of global programs. "It is an important market for us year-to-year. Mexico has been a longstanding, good customer of corn, sorghum, barley and DDGS, and we’re even on pace to see a 10% increase in corn exports to Mexico compared to last year."

The Thursday afternoon general session featured Bushel Co-Founder and CEO Jake Joraanstad who discussed creating digital infrastructure in agriculture to increase commodity competitiveness. Hogan Lovells partner and USGC general counsel Deen Kaplan followed Joraanstad then covered cybersecurity and how it relates to the business of agriculture.

During the meeting, the Council also bestowed two longtime figures with its Lifetime Achievement Award: Ray Defenbaugh, who passed away in 2019 during his tenure as a Council board member, and Tom Sleight, who retired as the Council’s president and CEO in 2019.

Tomorrow, attendees will enter the Board of Delegates meeting where they will elect USGC officers and present A-Team and sector reports.

 ASA, Keep GPS Working Coalition Support House RETAIN Bill

The Keep GPS Working Coalition, of which the American Soybean Association is a member, endorses bipartisan legislation introduced in the House in response to the Federal Communication Commission’s Ligado Order, which went into effect April 2020 and allows Ligado Networks to establish a wireless network that will threaten the reception capability of hundreds of millions of GPS devices and growers’ abilities to use GPS technology in their operations.

The Recognizing and Ensuring Taxpayer Access to Infrastructure Necessary (RETAIN) for GPS and Satellite Communications Act of 2021, introduced by U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), is a companion to the Senate bill introduced in June by U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Jack Reed (D-RI).

Both bills aim to keep GPS reliable and ensure unfair cost burdens won’t fall on U.S. farmers or other end users who rely on the network to operate safely and efficiently.

While FCC’s order acknowledges the likelihood of interference to GPS signals and requires Ligado to pay the federal government the costs for repairs, it does not specify what those costs are and, importantly, does not currently include the millions of other devices that will be affected in the private sector.

The House and Senate bills would require Ligado to cover the cost of correcting any interference its operations create and specifically outlines the areas of potential costs, including engineering, construction, site acquisition, research, personnel or contracting staff and labor costs. For agriculture, this means Ligado would need to upgrade, repair, or replace any farm equipment impacted by Ligado.

Because growers heavily rely upon navigation systems and precision technology, the prospect of GPS units not working is alarming to soybean farmers.

ASA urges changes to FCC’s Ligado decision and will continue prompting the Biden administration and Congress to step in to protect GPS reliability.

Spring Wheat Tour Scouts Calculate Final 2021 All Spring Wheat Yield at 28.9 BPA

Scouts finished off the Wheat Quality Council 2021 spring wheat and durum tour late Thursday morning, ending the day at the National Crops Institute in Fargo, North Dakota, for the final tour discussion. The final tour yield for all spring wheat was calculated at 28.9 bushels per acre (bpa) with hard red spring wheat at 29.1 bpa over 257 samples drawn and durum wheat yields at 24.3 bpa over 15 samples.

This was the tour's lowest calculated yield for both crops since 2008. That year, hard red spring wheat yield was calculated at 31.7 bpa, durum at 23.3 bpa and all wheat at 31.3 bpa.

Comparing this year's results to the most recent previous tour, the final totals over the same routes in 2019 were calculated at 43.1 bpa for hard red spring wheat and 32 bpa for durum for an all spring wheat total of 42.6 bpa. The tour was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic.

USDA Releases Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson today, on the 10th anniversary of the creation of the USDA’s Certified Biobased Product Label, unveiled an Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry (PDF, 8 MB). The report demonstrates that the biobased industry is a substantial generator of economic activity and jobs, and that it has a significant positive impact on the environment.

“Biobased products are widely known for having a substantially lower impact on the environment compared to petroleum-based and other non-biobased products,” Maxson said. “Beyond being more responsible alternatives, these products are produced by an industry responsible for nearly 5 million jobs in the United States alone. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is playing a key role in labeling biobased products so that consumers can make educated decisions for themselves, their families and their places of work.”

According to the report, in 2017, the biobased products industry:
    Supported 4.6 million American jobs through direct, indirect and induced contributions.
    Contributed $470 billion to the U.S. economy.
    Generated 2.79 jobs in other sectors of the economy for every biobased job.

Additionally, biobased products displace approximately 9.4 million barrels of oil annually, and have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 12.7 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents per year. See all the highlights of the report on Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry Infographic (PDF, 289 KB) and Fact Sheet (PDF, 390 KB).

Established in 2011 underneath USDA’s BioPreferred Program, the Certified Biobased Product Label is intended to spur economic development, create new jobs and provide new markets for farm commodities. By harnessing the powers of certification and the marketplace, the program helps purchasers and users identify products with biobased content and assures them of its accuracy. As of June 2021, the BioPreferred Program Catalog includes more than 16,000 registered products.

 ACE 2021 Conference Sessions Explore Strategies for Ethanol Boards to Grow, Protect and Lead their Ethanol Businesses

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) 34th annual conference taking place next month August 18-20 in Minneapolis provides content focused on ways to make ethanol plants more profitable and efficient. The event draws industry leadership for updates on public policy, market development, board of director training, and much more.

Consulting firms Christianson PLLP and K·Coe Isom will host breakout sessions centered on planning for the future, ways to address changes in the workplace and leadership, and how to set up and monetize projects that capitalize on carbon-focused incentive programs and tax credits.

Christianson PLLP will provide insights from the first complete cycle of California Low Carbon Fuel Standard reporting and verification, as well as other low carbon programs under development, explore effective monetization of 45Q tax credits, and correlations between profitability and an ethanol plant’s focus on low carbon programs drawn from the latest data available through its Christianson Benchmarking service.

“The tax and compliance team at Christianson is excited to connect in person again at this year’s ACE Conference,” said Connie Lindstrom, Senior Biofuels Analyst with Christianson Benchmarking, LLC. “This year, more than ever, it’s so important to understand the best ways to set up and monetize projects that capitalize on carbon-focused incentive programs and tax credits, and our team has lots of examples and best practices to share.”

K·Coe Isom-led sessions will focus on strategic planning, and how to address changes in the workplace and changes in leadership needed to navigate our new reality.

“K·Coe Isom is pleased to participate in the ACE conference,” said Donna Funk, K·Coe Principal. “We will be helping attendees understand how to effectively advance their talented workforce and will also hold a session on board planning and successful succession planning.”

For a full list of conference topics and speakers, access the agenda at

Wednesday July 28 Ag News


The Board of Trustees for the Nebraska State Fair 1868 Foundation appointed three individuals to serve a three-year term on its Board of Directors, bringing the total number of Board Members to nine.

The Board of Trustees for the 1868 Foundation unanimously appointed Jill Staab, of Grand Island to serve a three-year term on the 1868 Foundation Board of Directors.

Staab has a vibrant history of maintaining strong community ties and supporting various charitable endeavors in the community. “Jill’s enthusiasm and passion for the Nebraska State Fair is exactly what the 1868 Foundation needs right now,” said Lindsey Koepke, Executive Director for the 1868 Foundation.

“The State Fair has been a family affair for Jill, her husband Dave and the entire Staab Family. It’s an honor to continue the family tradition and their family legacy with Jill’s commitment to serve on the 1868 Foundation Board.”

“Our Board of Directors is comprised of a dedicated team of community leaders committed to providing strength, stability and a vibrant future for the Nebraska State Fair,” said Terry Galloway, Chairman of the 1868 Foundation Board of Directors.  “We are excited to channel Jill’s talent, expertise and energy into furthering our mission and that of the Nebraska State Fair.”

“The fair has done so much for the community of Grand Island and for Central Nebraska,” Said Staab.  “I look forward to serving alongside my fellow board members to do all that we can to help the fair which has brought so much goodness and growth to this community.”

Additionally, the Board of Trustees for the 1868 Foundation unanimously reappointed Terry Galloway of Johnson Lake and Donald Dunn of Lincoln to serve another three-year term on the Nebraska State Fair 1868 Foundation Board of Directors. Currently Chairman of the Board, Galloway has served on the 1868 Foundation Board since 2015. Dunn was appointed to the 1868 Foundation Board in 2018 and is entering his second three-year term.

“We are so fortunate to have such a talented group of individuals serving on the board of directors,” said Koepke. “As we continue to strengthen our efforts and look to future for opportunities for growth, we will rely greatly on these individuals to keep the positive moment we are seeing moving in the right direction.”

The purpose of the Nebraska State Fair 1868 Foundation is to raise funds and resources for improvements, renovations and revitalizations for the Nebraska State Fair. We are a charitable 501(c)(3) organization. For more information about the Nebraska State Fair 1868 Foundation or to learn how to get involved, visit

 Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska and Nebraska Extension Celebrate National Farmers’ Market Week 2021

Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska and Nebraska Extension join others across the country in celebrating National Farmers’ Market Week from Aug. 1-7, 2021 with the launch of a new tool to make it easy for Nebraskans to find nearby farmers’ markets. .  

A new interactive map found online at, allows Nebraskans to find details on farmers markets in communities all across the state. This website was developed from a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant awarded to Nebraska Extension, in collaboration with Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska and the Center for Rural Affairs. A Spanish-language version website is available at

In the midst of a global pandemic, farmers markets — like all other small businesses — have innovated to stay open for the farmers and consumers that depend on them. Market managers have adapted rapidly to protect staff, customers and community. When conventional food supply chains had difficulties adapting at the start of the pandemic, farmers markets and local food systems clearly displayed the resiliency of short supply chains, and interest in local foods spiked nationwide. Now, farmers markets are headed into another year of building resilience in our communities and bringing people together.  

“The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted that we need to shorten the food supply chain,” said Terri Mazza, owner of Food 4 Hope, a farmers’ market vendor near Beatrice. “When people buy at a farmers’ market, they have a reliable source of food. They know where their food is coming from, and they know they are getting it fresh.”

National Farmers Market Week is an annual celebration of farmers markets coordinated by the Farmers Market Coalition. This year’s campaign is centered around the essential role that farmers markets play in our local food systems.

In 2020, Nebraska markets pivoted rapidly to ensure that markets would stay open to the public by increasing online sales, adding safety precautions into their operations and eliminating non-essential activities like music and kids’ events. Those efforts, coupled with decreased attendance in 2020, have had a significant impact on Nebraska markets. Nationally, the pandemic strained farmers market organizations to keep markets open; 93% of markets reported added costs to operate while 74% reported decreased income.  

In 2021 Nebraskans all over the state can support their farmers’ markets by grabbing their shopping bags and heading to the nearest market. Nebraska’s 99 registered Farmers’ Markets provide access to healthy, locally-produced food no matter where you are.

Markets increase their reach by accepting SNAP payments, as well as Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks. These and other initiatives ensure that more Nebraskans can benefit from local food. In 2021 the Kearney Area Farmers’ Market became one of the few farmers’ markets in the state to become authorized to accept SNAP payments from shoppers.  

Created in 2019, the Nebraska Go to Grow/Vamos Apoyar project provides training, technical assistance and marketing to rural farmers’ markets across the state, while also supporting local producers who rely on farmers’ markets to sell their products. The Go to Grow/Vamos Apoyar team is also working with markets across Nebraska to increase access to Spanish speaking consumers, through translated signage and targeted outreach in local communities.  

Farmers’ markets are an essential part of our state. They are spaces where food access, economic opportunities, community pride and health come together every week of the market season.  Find your market, and go to grow Nebraska farmers markets by visiting or

Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska has been connecting consumers to locally grown food for 16 years. Its mission is to increase the demand of local food in the state, resulting in stable, thriving, direct-market farms, ranches and local food businesses. BFBLN accomplishes their mission through educational and promotional projects and resources. We are proud to be a program of the Nebraska Cooperative Development Center, and the Agricultural Economics Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Nebraska Native wins Junior Angus Herdsman

Miranda Raithel of Falls City, Nebraska, is recognized as 2021 Junior Herdsman of the year.

The Junior Angus Herdsman award is awarded to one National Junior Angus Association (NJAA) member who displays a strong work ethic, dedication to his/her animals and has the skill to prepare their cattle for exhibition. This year the 2021 National Junior Angus Show (NJAS) Junior Herdsman of the Year was awarded to Miranda Raithel of Falls City, Nebraska.

In 1998 Raithel’s father was awarded the Angus Herdsman award at the National Western Stock Show. Now in 2021, it was only fitting that his daughter follows in his footsteps. Miranda Raithel was born on January 13, 2000, and by January 21, 2001, she had already been issued her official National Junior Angus membership.

Growing up, Raithel could be found in the show barn alongside her parents at Herbster Angus Farm. From nutrition to management, Raithel says she understands cattle from being mentored by her parents, Ed and Mandy, and Cash Langford.

"I’m actually really glad to be recognized in my home state during my last year," said Raithel. "Call it the stars aligning, but it’s pretty neat to win the herdsman’s buckle in your home state."

To be selected to receive the Herdsman Award, juniors must be in their last year of junior eligibility and are voted on by ballot by NJAA members exhibiting at the National Junior Angus Show. Junior members are asked to evaluate their peers throughout the week and turn their official ballot in to the show office by noon on Friday of the National Junior Angus Show.

Raithel said she has learned everything she knows from her dad, and together they make quite the father-daughter duo.

"It’s that guy that taught me how to be a herdsman," she said. "I’ve had people I’ve never known tell me they encouraged kids to vote for me, and that’s pretty cool."
With two semesters left of college, Raithel will be on to the next chapter soon.

Upon graduation Raithel will receive degrees in business administration and marketing from Peru State College. She previously received her associate degree in animal science from Redlands Community College. While at Redlands she was a member of the collegiate livestock judging team and the captain of the beef show team.

Bacon Buddies Pig Show Planned for Iowa State Fair

The Iowa State Fair is for everyone, and that’s why the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) is bringing the Bacon Buddies pig show back to the Swine Barn on Saturday, Aug. 14.
The Bacon Buddies show gives individuals who have intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (Buddies) the opportunity to take a pig into the show ring – a great Iowa State Fair tradition. Their mentors are 4-H and FFA youth who have volunteered to share that show ring experience with the Special Olympics participants who asked to be part of this opportunity.
“We care about all the people in our communities,” says IPPA President Dennis Liljedahl. “Pig farms have always been a part of Iowa’s rural communities. Bacon Buddies shares our values of being a good neighbor and making a positive contribution for better lives in Iowa.”
“This is a great opportunity for our Special Olympics athletes,” says John Kliegl, the president and CEO of Special Olympics Iowa. “They want to do what their peers are doing, and it’s great to work with the 4-H and FFA youth who see them as their equals.”
The Bacon Buddies show begins at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 14 in the east show ring of the Swine Barn on the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Sixteen Buddies will show their pigs in groups of four, giving them an opportunity to interact with the judge and their animals. Mentors will be on hand with helpful suggestions as the Buddies walk their pigs around the ring.
When the first show was held in 2019, participants and spectators both noted the camaraderie and seeing participants find common ground in enjoying the experience. No show was scheduled for 2020 because of Covid-19, but this summer, some Iowa county fairs included a Bacon Buddies event to create that same opportunity locally.

Matthew Eddy Named to the National FFA Board of Directors

Matthew Eddy was recently named to the National FFA Board of Directors. He is serving as the NASAE representative, completing the term of Leon Busdeiker, who retired on June 30.

Eddy, who currently serves as an agricultural education consultant and state FFA advisor for Iowa, has served on the board in the past, as a teacher representative for the U.S. Department of Education. He finished his term in 2019.

"We are excited to have Matthew serve on the board once again," said National FFA Advisor and board chair Dr. James Woodard.  "We are looking forward to his future contributions on guiding the National FFA Organization and helping FFA members become the next leaders and prepare for a lifetime of career success."

Eddy, who grew up on a diversified farm south of Osceola, Iowa, graduated from Clarke Community High School and attended Iowa State University. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1999 and his master’s degree in 2008.

Eddy is a CASE Certified Master Teacher and holds certification in agriculture, food and natural resources, animal science, plant science and biotechnology. He led a group to author the Governor's STEM Scale-Up Program grants, securing more than $3.1 million dollars for Iowa agriculture programs to participate in adopting the CASE model since 2012.

Eddy and his wife, Carol, live in Pleasant Hill, Iowa, with their four children.  

Iowa Cattleman Implores Competitive Marketplace to Enhance Beef Supply Chain

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association is dedicated to protecting Iowa’s beef business. Over the past two years, we’ve made a concerted effort to respond to extreme market disruptions that impact the legacies of Iowa cattlemen and our rural communities. We’ve elevated priorities of our members by:

    Calling for concurrent investigations of meatpackers by USDA and the DOJ;
    Leading the introduction of legislation to provide more price discovery to the fed cattle market; and
    Pioneering thought and discussion regarding reportable information to the entire beef supply chain through Livestock Mandatory Reporting.

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee convened a hearing to discuss the vulnerabilities within the food supply chain. The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association strongly urged committee members to include a producer witness on the panel. Jon Schaben, an Iowa Cattlemen’s Association member-leader and owner of Dunlap Livestock Auction, in Dunlap, Iowa, and West Point Livestock, in West Point, Neb., testified on behalf of independent cattlemen.

Schaben kicked off the hearing by drawing attention to primary challenges in the cattle industry. Key areas of focus included: lack of price discovery and transparency, meatpacking concentration and competition, captive supply, and price manipulation and exercise of market power.

“Most recently, we’ve seen live values of cattle in the $1,500 to $1,700 range, but carcass values in the $2,500 to $2,700 range, a $1,000 difference between what the producer is getting and the end product coming out. If we process more than half a million cattle a week in the fed cattle industry, that is half a billion dollars a week that is eroded out of our rural economy. If we can bring a functioning cattle market back and bring the spread narrow down, that’s a way we can infuse more cash into our rural sector,” Schaben says.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) once again urged the Department of Justice, Department of Agriculture, and Federal Trade Commission to aggressively police anticompetitive activity, as concerns remain surrounding packers making profits and producers struggling to break even. “As the first link in our food supply chain, farmers and ranchers assume incredible risk for each crop and animal raised. Their livelihoods depend on receiving a fair price,” Senator Grassley says.

“Even before the pandemic, farmers and ranchers witnessed the prices of their cattle fall while the price of boxed beef from the processor increased. The market is clearly not working fairly when demand is extraordinarily strong and supply, at the same time, is strong.”

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association recognizes the importance of producer involvement in supply chain discussions. Market disruptions pose risks to our food supply, threaten producer livelihood, and create serious concern for rural communities.

We appreciate the attention the Senate Judiciary Committee has provided on this matter. We expect members to direct the Department of Justice to provide a swift update regarding the ongoing antitrust investigation of the four largest meatpackers.

NeFU Commends Senate Judiciary Committee for its Hearing on Ag Market Concentration

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) commended the Senate Judiciary Committee for holding a hearing on market concentration in the livestock industry “Beefing Up Competition: Examining America’s Food Supply Chain.”

Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen said, “Let’s hope that today’s refreshing and positive bipartisan support for ag market reform measures is not just political theater and posturing. We need a genuine commitment to re-think failed public federal and state policies, the operating premise of the Anti-Trust Division of the Justice Department that encourages market concentration, and the need to update and reinvent the competition enforcement capacity of the 100 year old USDA Packers and Stockyards Administration. President Biden’s Executive Order on Competition should be supported by everyone who supports competition in the market place. It can also be used to speed up the USDA rule making process for clarifying and updating Packers and Stockyards definitions and terms.”

Hansen praised the choice of Hearing witnesses representing agriculture, including NFU President Rob Larew and Jon Schaben, owner of the Dunlap, Iowa and West Point, Nebraska Livestock Auction markets. “They did an outstanding job of explaining how healthy markets should work, the level of concentration in today’s non-competitive livestock markets, and measures that need to be taken to bring competition back to livestock markets. George Slover, Senior Policy Counsel for Consumer Reports provided excellent insights into the benefits of competitive markets and competition legal and policy issues. Today, our independent livestock producers are going broke, meat consumers are getting overcharged, and meatpackers are making excessive profits because of failed government regulatory oversight that favors market consolidation and concentration instead of competition,” Hansen said.

NeFU said in the short term Congress needs to renew the Mandatory Price Reporting authority, and expand and include contract prices as well as cash sales on a daily basis.

NeFU supports asking Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack to undo Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s hurtful movement of USDA Packers and Stockyards from its independent historical housing in USDA into the Agricultural Marketing Service.

NeFU supports re-starting the USDA ag market reform rule making process started by then Secretary of Ag Vilsack in the Obama Administration that were scrapped by Secretary of Ag Perdue scrapped when he walked in the door, and additional provisions to protect livestock producers from meatpacker retaliation for practicing their free speech rights or criticizing non-competitive marketing practices.  

House Agriculture Hearing Echoes NCBA Push for More Hook Space

Today, the U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture held a hearing to examine urgent challenges within the beef supply chain. After hearing testimony from agriculture economists, land-grant university faculty, and cattle industry stakeholders, many members of Congress echoed the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's (NCBA) longstanding call to expand processing capacity.

Members also noted the need for greater transparency in cattle markets to create conditions that support both a reliable, affordable supply of U.S. beef and the continued financial viability of American cattle farmers and ranchers.

"The roadblocks that are depressing profits for our cattle producers and endangering the steady supply of affordable beef have really captured the attention of lawmakers," said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane. "The continued momentum we are seeing on expanding processing capacity, both on Capitol Hill and at USDA, is a positive sign. We are grateful to Chairman Costa and Ranking Member Johnson for prioritizing this issue. We look forward to continuing to work with members of the House Agriculture Committee to advance solutions like the Butcher Block Act that would alleviate some of the chokepoints that are hurting our producers."

Cattle industry concerns have seen increased attention recently from both sides of the aisle as NCBA has advocated for commonsense solutions that address the most urgent challenges facing producers. In recent months, NCBA has engaged with Congress and the administration to:
    Secure the introduction of legislation to help small, independent processors expand capacity and improve marketing options for cattle producers.
    Reform the "Product of the USA" beef label in a way that benefits both consumers and producers.
    Defend family farms, ranches, and rural communities against devastating proposed tax hikes.
    Deliver critical progress on much-needed flexibility under hours-of-service regulations for livestock haulers.
    Ensure that the "America the Beautiful" or 30x30 conservation plan prioritizes the input of agricultural producers and respects private property rights.

Experts Agree: Livestock Markets Not Broken; Affected by Supply and Demand

With cattle futures reaching new multi-year highs this week, The North American Meat Institute today submitted testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee underscoring the supply and demand fundamentals of beef and livestock markets and opposing further government intervention that will result in unintended consequences.

“Industry experts, market participants and economists testifying before three different congressional committees in the past two months have found that beef and cattle markets have behaved predictably given supply and demand pressures,” said Julie Anna Potts, President and CEO of the North American Meat Institute. “These witnesses join the Meat Institute in maintaining the beef and cattle markets are dynamic, with recent challenges being due to labor shortages and the COVID pandemic rather than market structure.”

The Meat Institute submitted written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing called, “Beefing up Competition: Examining America’s Food Supply Chain.” Senate testimony may be found here.

In addition to debunking claims about market concentration, the testimony includes important new analysis which shows that the beef market is rebounding:

“Beef demand remains high: the total volume of beef sales in 2021 from January through mid-June remained more than 4 percent higher than the pre-pandemic levels over the same period in 2019. This increase in beef demand in 2020 happened while the packing sector’s ability to process cattle was experiencing operational constraints, and has continued into this year while labor availability has similarly affected the packing industry’s ability to operate at full capacity. Meanwhile, the supply of fed cattle remained large. In short, COVID-19 created a significant “kink in the chain” that took            time to straighten.

“Early in the pandemic the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) commissioned the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and several distinguished agricultural economists to examine the impact COVID-19 was having and was expected to have on the beef cattle industry. That paper warned ‘the timeline for market recovery from COVID-19 is unknown, and cow-calf losses could expand into 2021 when the summer and fall 2020 calf crops would be marketed.’

“The market is rebounding. This week Feeder Cattle futures reached contract highs for the August through March 2022 contracts. On Monday, July 26, the Feeder Cattle contract closed at its highest since March 2016. Live Cattle futures prices so far in July have averaged higher than the same month in 2017, 2018, and 2019, all pre-pandemic. This reflects a smaller supply of cattle, which according to USDA’s mid-year cattle inventory report released last week, is down 1 percent from last year. Also, it reflects the recovery in cattle processing capacity.”

In the testimony, the Meat Institute also offers a primer on market fundamentals at all stages of production:

“From ranch to the slaughter plant rail, live cattle typically change ownership two to three times. Cow-calf producers market their cattle to feeders, or to backgrounders who in turn move those cattle to feeders, who then market to packers. The price for cattle at any of those three most common points of transactions is a function of how many cattle are in each respective market segment. In other words, the price is determined by supply of cattle to sell from one segment and the demand for buying cattle by the next segment. That explains why each segment can experience different margins and why there is a futures contract for two types of cattle: feeder cattle and fed cattle. When any of those segments are out of balance, prices move, and the moves can be dramatic, as witnessed by the COVID-spurred retail beef demand, which represents the final segment of the entire pasture to plate value chain, and the COVID-imposed imbalance within various segments of the cattle sector.”

In response to calls for more “transparency,” The Meat Institute’s testimony provides more information about mandatory price reporting and other requirements for packers to be transparent with industry data:

“There is robust price discovery in the cattle and beef markets. Congress established and USDA administers the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act (LMR) program to facilitate open, transparent price discovery and provide all market participants, both large and small, with comparable levels of market information for slaughter cattle and beef, as well as other species.

“Under LMR, packers must report to AMS daily the prices they pay to procure cattle, as well as other information, including slaughter data for cattle harvested during a specified time period and with net prices, actual weights, dressing percentages, percent of beef grading Choice, and price ranges, and then AMS publishes the anonymized data.  

“AMS publishes 24 daily and 20 weekly cattle reports each week. Weekly reports start Monday afternoon and end the next Monday morning. These reports cover time periods, regions, and activities and the data include actual cattle prices.

“Further, packers report all original sale beef transactions in both volume and price through the Daily Boxed Beef Report. This data is reported twice daily, at 11:00 a.m. and at 3:00 p.m. Central Time. The morning report covers market activity since 1:30 p.m. of the prior business day until 9:30 a.m. of the current business day. The afternoon report is cumulative, including all market activity in the morning plus all additional transactions between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and is on the USDA DataMart website. The boxed beef report covers both individual beef item sales and beef cutout values and current  volumes, both of which are derived from the individual beef item sales data.

“Stepping back for a moment, it is unimaginable in virtually any other industry participants in a free market would be required to report such data on an on-going, daily basis, and that the data would then be published by the government for competitors and other market participants to view, analyze, and use as a basis for strategic decisions. And yet, despite all of the onerous, mandated reporting requirements already in place, some people claim there is no market transparency and there needs to be more price discovery. Where does it end?”

AFBF Applauds Hearings on Beef Supply Chain

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented today on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and U.S. House Agriculture Committee hearings on the current state of the beef supply chain.

“American Farm Bureau appreciates the work of the committees in both houses of Congress to investigate the strengths and weaknesses of our country’s food systems, specifically livestock markets.

“We welcome the discussion held by the Judiciary Committee to restore a competitive playing field for America’s farmers and ranchers. It was also important for the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture to explore and call attention to the difficult trajectory cattle markets have followed over the last two years. Prices at the grocery store continue to rise while ranchers receive the bare minimum prices for their livestock.

“AFBF continues to urge Congress to reauthorize Livestock Mandatory Reporting, create a beef contract library, and publicize the results of the Department of Justice investigation into livestock markets to ensure farmers and ranchers have the best tools at their disposal when it comes to selling their livestock.

“We will continue to work with Congress and the administration to ensure all farmers and ranchers receive a fair price for their products while producing the safest, most affordable food in the world.”

Dominican Republic Confirmed Positive for African Swine Fever

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that the Dominican Republic (DR) has confirmed cases of African swine fever (ASF). The cases were confirmed as part of a cooperative surveillance program between the United States and the DR. The United States remains free of ASF – an animal disease affecting only pigs with no human health implications – and imports no pork, animal feed or other pork production-related products from the Dominican Republic.

“The United States has significantly bolstered biosecurity to protect the U.S. swine herd since ASF broke in China nearly three years ago and began spreading to other parts of the world,” said Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian with the National Pork Producers Council. “We are thankful for steps taken by the USDA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), including strengthened border inspection and the implementation of an active surveillance program designed to quickly detect and eradicate ASF. These measures are particularly important now that ASF has been detected in the Western hemisphere for the first time in approximately 40 years.”

Dr. Wagstrom added, “We thank the USDA and CBP for the additional measures they are taking to prevent the spread of ASF to the United States.”

NPPC noted the following measures for U.S. pork producers:
    Use caution when hosting on-farm visitors from an ASF-positive region of the world; follow downtime recommendations from USDA's Plum Island Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.
    Review your biosecurity protocols to ensure consistent practice of appropriate safeguards.
    Fill out the Foreign Animal Disease Preparation Checklist found here and enroll in the Secure Pork Supply program.
    Visit with your feed suppliers to discuss the origin of the feed ingredients they are using in your diets.   

Vacation and other travelers to the Dominican Republic should know that it is illegal to transport specialty meat products or other agriculture products from the DR to the United States.

For additional information on ASF biosecurity, please visit

Consumer Research Unpacks Protein Perceptions

The United Soybean Board released new consumer data shedding light on consumer perceptions around protein. More than half of consumers (56%) say it is extremely or very important that plant-based proteins be complete, offering nutrition comparable to animal protein. Soy protein is uniquely positioned to help the food industry capitalize on current trends and consumer interests due to its protein quality, versatility and sustainability benefits.

The vast majority of consumers recognize that protein is important to maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, with 82% of consumers ages 50 and under agreeing that it is extremely or very important. “General health and wellness” was given as the No. 1 reason for adding protein (animal- or plant-based) to their diets.

“As one of the few widely available complete plant proteins that has all essential amino acids in the recommended amounts, soy offers the food industry an opportunity to deliver on consumer demands without compromising the flavor of a dish or packaged food,” said USB consultant Jean Heggie. “Soy can help companies meet the needs of most diets, including flexitarians and omnivores who are seeking to incorporate more plant-based foods.”

The study also found the following:  
    While the majority of U.S. consumers (79%) eat meat, 65% of the population is open to eating plant-based “flexitarian-friendly” food, with higher numbers reported among younger generations.
    Just under half (44%) identify as omnivores, eating meat including seafood and chicken on a regular basis and eating plant-based foods on occasion.
    About one in six consumers (16%) identify as “flexitarian,” described as choosing plant-based foods on most occasions but not excluding meat from their diet entirely.
    Openness to plant-based foods is strong across all demographic groups; however, younger consumers (50 and under) are significantly more likely to identify with an eating style that includes plant-based foods (72%), as compared to 55% of older consumers.  

“Soy protein provides the highest percentage of protein per calorie compared to other plant protein sources,” said Keenan McRoberts, Ph.D., vice president of science and program strategy for USB. “The high protein density of soy protein readily contributes to meeting requirements for protein and the amino acids that make up protein. In addition, the soybean oil (fat) component in soybeans contributes to meeting essential fatty acid requirements.”

Weekly Ethanol Production for 7/23/2021

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending July 23, ethanol production eased by 14,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 1.4%, to 1.014 million b/d, equivalent to 42.59 million gallons daily. Production was 5.8% above the same week last year but was 1.6% below the 2019 level. The four-week average ethanol production volume declined by 1.0% to 1.037 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 15.90 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks rose 1.0% to a 22-week high of 22.7 million barrels. Stocks were 12.1% above the year-ago level but 7.1% below the same week in 2019. Inventories built across all regions except the Midwest (PADD 2) and Gulf Coast (PADD 3).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, increased 0.3% to 9.33 million b/d (142.95 bg annualized). Gasoline demand was 5.9% above a year ago but 2.4% below the same week in 2019.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol improved by 2.5% to 930,000 b/d, equivalent to 14.26 bg annualized. Net inputs were 9.0% above a year ago but 3.0% less than the same week in 2019.

Imports of ethanol arriving into the West Coast were 36,000 b/d of ethanol, or 10.58 million gallons for the week. This marks the fourth time in six weeks that imports were reported. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of May 2021.)

Four Years Later, EPA Has Failed to Restore 500 Million Lost RIN Gallons

Today marks the four-year anniversary of the July 2017 ruling in Americans for Clean Energy v. EPA. The 2017 ruling required EPA to address its improper waiver of 500 million gallons for 2016 renewable fuel blending requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). To date, EPA has failed to reconsider the 2016 RVO and has not restored the 500 million lost RIN gallons. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor released the following statement on the case:

“Four years ago to the day, EPA was directed by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to address 500 million improperly waived gallons of biofuels,” said Skor. “This is a frustrating anniversary for America’s farmers and biofuel producers, as the Court has required EPA to update it on the status of these lost gallons on a regular basis, to no avail. EPA must take responsibility for these inappropriately waived gallons and follow the D.C. Circuit Court’s ruling. EPA owes it to America’s biofuel producers to return the gallons as a part of its commitment to cleaner, renewable fuel.”  

In the July 2017 ruling in the case Americans for Clean Energy et al. v. EPA et al., the court invalidated the EPA’s improper waiver of 500 million gallons in the 2016 RVO rule and ordered EPA to revisit the rule. The court held that EPA’s interpretation of the “inadequate domestic supply” waiver provision “runs contrary to how the Renewable Fuel Program is supposed to work.”  

Growth Energy joined a coalition of farm groups and biofuel producers that filed a motion in November of 2020 asking the court to enforce its 2017 decision, and in January 2021, rejected EPA’s excuses for delays.

Potash Retail Price Up 15% From Last Month; UAN Prices Slightly Lower

Retail fertilizer prices appear to be moving in two different directions the third week of July 2021, according to sellers surveyed by DTN.  For the first time since the third week of January 2021, or six full months ago, some retail fertilizer prices were actually lower than the previous month.

Both UAN28 and UAN32 are slightly lower, as was the case the third week of January. UAN28 had an average price of $365 per ton while UAN32 was at $419/ton.

For the fifth week in a row, potash led the increase in fertilizer prices. Potash was a whopping 15% more expensive compared to last month and had average price of $543/ton. Prices for the remaining five fertilizers saw just slight increases. DAP had an average price of $695/ton, DAP $750/ton, urea $553/ton, 10-34-0 $632/ton and anhydrous $736/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.60/lb.N, anhydrous $0.45/lb.N, UAN28 $0.65/lb.N and UAN32 $0.65/lb.N.

Retail fertilizer prices have all increased significantly from a year ago. 10-34-0 is now 36% more expensive, potash is 51% higher (last week was at 39%), urea is 54% more expensive, UAN32 is 59% higher, anhydrous is 60% more expensive, UAN28 62% higher, DAP is 71% more expensive and MAP is 75% higher compared to last year.

Vilsack Speech In Iowa Launches U.S. Grains Council Hybrid Summer Meeting

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) brought members together in person Wednesday for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, launching its summer annual meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, and online through a virtual meeting platform.

Joining for his first in-person meeting since taking on his role as U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack addressed attendees on the status and future of U.S. agricultural trade.

Vilsack began his remarks by calling the U.S. grains industry the “secret sauce” of trade, noting that its members understand the importance of partnership to growing export demand.

“We are in the process at USDA to build back better for trade,” Vilsack said. “We’ve been working on removing barriers to trade and are ready to engage more frequently and closely with our counterparts in other countries. American agriculture is at the center of that work because if something happens internationally, U.S. ag will feel that change. We are prepared and ready to look for more opportunities and diversity in trade partners.”

In addition, Vilsack emphasized the continued need for biofuels in the future, including for aviation and marine use.

“It will be a long time before we’re in the position where we won’t need biofuels. We need to take a look at creative ways that we can use bio-based products. If we can do this, I think we’ll see a bright future for American agriculture," he said.

USGC Chairman Jim Raben, a farmer from Illinois, began the 61st Annual Board of Delegates Meeting by thanking the industry for their perseverance during the global pandemic.

“Over the last year, our members provided customers around the world a virtual, behind-the-scenes look at their operations and ensured our global partners that the United States would continue to provide them a reliable, high-quality product, despite these uncertain times,” Raben said.

“Likewise, our staff – time and time again – have stepped up to the plate and trade has continued despite the pandemic keeping us at home and the technology challenges we’ve all encountered and had to overcome.”

USGC President and CEO Ryan LeGrand offered his assessment of where markets stand for U.S. corn, sorghum, barley, distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and ethanol.

“During this time, we were challenged to think in new ways, figure out how we could use technology to keep servicing our customers and to keep markets open,” he said. “I can definitively say we have been successful. We’ve had record sales of U.S. corn and U.S. sorghum during this period. While it’s still a challenging trade horizon beyond our shores, it’s one that holds great promise.”

Nearly 400 in-person and online attendees also heard a recorded presentation by former World Trade Organization (WTO) Deputy Director-General Ambassador Alan Wolff and a live presentation by futurist Christopher Kent of Foresight Alliance, who shared his vision for what U.S. trade may look like in a post-COVID world.

World Food Prize winner, Ohio State University distinguished professor and soil scientist Dr. Rattan Lal spoke on the role of agriculture in sustainability as the world emerges from the global pandemic.

In the afternoon, attendees spent time in one or more of seven Council Advisory Team (A-Team) meetings. Each A-Team has a specific focus – including Asia, Ethanol, Innovation and Sustainability, Middle East/Africa/South Asia, Trade Policy, Value-Added and Western Hemisphere – allowing members the chance to offer input, set priorities and help determine the Council’s course of action over the coming year.

On Thursday, Council programming is scheduled to focus on selected markets around the world in which it works - including Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, South Asia, Mexico and China. The meeting will culminate on Friday with the Council’s Board of Delegates meeting, appointment of new A-Team leaders and election of members of the 2021/2022 Board of Directors.

U.S. Dairy Welcomes Progress and U.S. Leadership in UN Food Systems Pre-Summit

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) today commended U.S. leadership at the UN Food Systems Summit (UN FSS) Pre-Summit ministerial meeting in Rome. The Pre-Summit has generated dialogue on a multitude of ideas, proposals, and perspectives, some of which are not evidence-based or practical. Overall, however, there is strong global support for a process that raises the bar on sustainability ambitions – an area where U.S. dairy producers and processors are well positioned to shine. The organizations welcomed progress toward ensuring that agricultural innovation, science-based policies and sustainably produced animal-sourced foods remain at the center of healthy and sustainable food systems around the world.

NMPF and USDEC joined the U.S. delegation, led by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Jewel Bronaugh, in supporting UN FSS outcomes that advance innovation and evidence-based approaches to increase agricultural productivity and reduce environmental impact. In the months leading up to the Pre-Summit, NMPF and USDEC highlighted to U.S. government officials U.S. dairy’s leading role in implementing sustainable food production practices including those that adapt to and build resilience to climate change by committing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon.  

“U.S. dairy farmers are taking voluntary action to achieve carbon neutrality, optimize water use, and improve water quality, delivering dairy’s future today,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF. “We are proud to champion nutrient-dense, sustainably produced U.S. dairy as a food security and environmental solution for the UN FSS and beyond.”

“It has never been more important for the world to adopt solutions like those implemented by U.S. dairy farmers and processors that leave a positive environmental footprint, nourishing people and the planet today and for future generations,” said Krysta Harden, President and CEO of USDEC. “We support the summit in its efforts to make global food systems more sustainable and offer the world a source of choice for responsibly produced, high quality, and nutritious dairy products.”

U.S. dairy farmers and processors lead across all three elements of sustainability defined by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – economic, social, and environmental. Two industrywide U.S. Dairy initiatives have been submitted to the UN FSS as game-changing solutions: (1) the Net Zero Initiative, through which U.S. dairy aims to become carbon neutral or better by 2050; and (2) the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program, as part of a One Health approach ensures that science-based stewardship informs on-farm, socially responsible principles for exceptional care of animals and the planet.

NMPF and USDEC will continue to engage actively in the Food Systems Summit, which next meets in September and contribute to efforts to accelerate achievement of global sustainable development goals.

USDA Cattle and Cattle on Feed Reports

Stephen R. Koontz, Dept of Ag Economics, Colorado State University

Last Friday saw the release of the monthly Cattle on Feed report and the mid-year Cattle report. The reports communicate a wealth of information that will impact the supply side of market assessments for some time to come. The impacts of the situation seen in the Cattle on Feed report will playout for the remainder of the year and into some of next. The Cattle report with its inventory information will explain long-term impacts over the next several years. It was anticipated that both reports would be bullish, that is the case, and surprises reinforce bullish news.

Let’s examine the Cattle on Feed report first. Placements were down and modestly lighter than expected. Marketings were up and modestly stronger than expected. And on-feed inventories were down and modestly lighter than expected. Placements over the month of June were 92.9 percent of the prior year and pre-report expectations were for placements to be between 90.4 and 96.8 percent of the prior year. Lower than the average of 94.2 percent but within the range of expectations. Marketings over the month of June were 102.7 percent of the prior year and pre-report expectations were for marketings to be between 99.6 and 103.4 percent of the prior year. Modestly higher than the average of 102.3 percent but within the range. On-feed inventories as of July 1 were 98.7 percent of the prior year. The average pre-report expectation was 99.0 percent with a range between 98.2 and 99.7 percent. Again, placements were lighter, marketings were heavier, and resulting inventories were lighter. All these supply changes suggest the possibility of price strength. Cattle on feed over 120 days are also down sharply from the prior month and prior year. The prior year is likely a problematic comparison given the inventory numbers following the plant operations problems due to COVID-19. But, as with all the information as compared to the prior year, this issue should be understood by market analysts constructing the expectations. The important point with the calculated 120-day on feed inventory is that the long-fed inventories are being cleaned up.

Turning to the Cattle report, many of the categories of beef cattle herd inventories are lower and lower than expected. These stocks are not impacted by market disruptions due to COVID-19 but are impacted by drought this year. Calves under 500 pounds are 98.6 percent of the prior year, the average of the pre-report expectation was 99.5 percent, and the range of expectations was 99.3 to 99.6 percent. This is lower than expected and outside of the range. Steers weighing 500 pounds and more are 98.6 percent of the prior year, the average expectation was 99.6 percent, and the range of expectations were between 99.3 and 99.7 percent. Again, lower than expected and outside of the range. Heifers weighing 500 pounds or more – that are not beef cow replacements nor dairy replacements – were 97.4 percent of the prior year. The average expectation was 99.8 percent, and the range was between 98.7 and 101.3 percent. Lower than expected and below the range. Beef cow numbers are 98.0 percent of the prior year, the average expectation was 98.9 percent, and the range of expectations was 98.3 to 99.4 percent. Lower than expected and below the range.

Finally, all cattle and calves are 98.7 percent of last year, the average expectation was 99.5, and the range between 99.3 and 99.7 percent. The beef cow herd and all cattle numbers are tightening. Heifers held as beef cow replacements are down 2.3 percent and beef cow numbers are down 2 percent. Calf numbers are down slightly less. Reductions in inventories of 1-2 percent this year will result in something close to reductions in supplies of beef of a similar magnitude. The further into the future you consider then the tighter the supplies. And there is little to no bearish news on the demand side. This of course can change. But, for example, packer margins are outstanding, trade volumes are excellent, and wholesale/retail prices remain very firm.

ADM Reports Record Second Quarter Earnings per Share of $1.26, $1.33 on an Adjusted Basis; Expects Momentum to Continue in Second Half, Leading to Very Strong Full-Year Outlook

ADM (NYSE: ADM) today reported financial results for the quarter ended June 30, 2021.

“It was yet another excellent quarter for ADM, as our team delivered record earnings, with strong year-over-year profit growth across all three business units,” said Chairman and CEO Juan Luciano.

“This is a very different ADM than even a few short years ago, and our transformation is far from over. Our productivity efforts are powering our execution, and — combined with our unparalleled global footprint and strong risk management — supported outstanding results in both Ag Services & Oilseeds and Carbohydrate Solutions. And we’re driving innovation, which helped support record top-line and bottom-line results in Nutrition; in fact, we are now raising our expectations of full-year profit growth for Nutrition to 20 percent.

    Q2 net earnings of $712 million; adjusted net earnings of $754 million
    Segment operating profit up more than 40%
    ROIC of 9.7%, significantly higher than the prior-year period’s 8.1%
    27% year-over-year Q2 operating profit growth in Nutrition, raising segment’s OP growth expectations for full year to 20%

“We’re excited about our growth trajectory as we continue to expand our participation in large and fast-growing categories, from alternative proteins to renewable green diesel to plant-based biosolutions, with all of our strategic efforts underpinned by our unique opportunity to use ADM’s integrated value chain to advance decarbonization of the food and agriculture industries. Given our great start to the year and our expectation of continued momentum in the second half, we are confident in delivering very strong full-year earnings, and we remain well-positioned for robust, sustained growth in the years to come.”

Quarterly Results of Operations

Ag Services & Oilseeds delivered operating profits almost 40 percent higher than the previous year’s quarter.
    Ag Services results were higher year over year. The North American origination business effectively managed its positions in a dynamic pricing environment, and also delivered significantly higher export volumes, driven by corn sales to China. South American origination was impacted by slower farmer selling and high commodity prices, which impacted contract fulfillment. Global trade performance was lower than the strong second quarter of 2020, with results driven partially by timing impacts that should reverse.
    Crushing had substantially higher year-over-year results. The business executed well in an environment of strong vegetable oil demand to deliver higher execution margins in North American soy and EU softseeds. Results were partially offset by weaker soybean crush margins in South America. In addition, there were approximately $70 million in net incremental negative timing effects, which should reverse in the coming quarters.
    Refined Products and Other results were significantly higher than the prior-year period, driven by continued recovery in foodservice as well as positive timing effects in North America, partially offset by impacts of the reduction in Brazilian biodiesel mandates.
    Equity earnings from Wilmar were higher year over year.

Carbohydrate Solutions results were almost double those of the prior-year period.
    Starches and Sweeteners, including ethanol production from our wet mills, delivered substantially higher year-over-year results, driven by about $90 million in positioning gains across the ethanol complex in a highly dynamic environment, as well as more normalized results from corn oil. Sweetener volumes were higher, reflecting the beginnings of a recovery in demand from the foodservice channel. Ethanol margins improved versus the prior-year period, driven by a resurgence in driving miles in the U.S.
    Vantage Corn Processors results were much higher than the second quarter of 2020, supported by the resumption of production at our two dry mills, improved fuel ethanol margins and favorable performance in USP-grade industrial alcohol from our Peoria complex.

Nutrition delivered a record Q2, with 15 percent revenue growth and 27 percent higher year-over-year profits.
    Human Nutrition revenues were 13 percent higher than the second quarter of last year on a constant currency basis, and operating profits were up 24 percent. In North America and EMEA, the flavors business delivered strong volumes and improved product mix, particularly in the beverage segment. Specialty Ingredients delivered strong sales growth in specialty proteins, though results were lower due to certain one-time costs, mainly in texturants. In Health & Wellness, stronger sales and margins in probiotics were offset by higher costs in fibers due to planned facility downtime.
    Animal Nutrition revenue was 17 percent higher year over year on a constant currency basis and profits were up 44 percent as improved demand and margins in amino acids, strength in feed additives and ingredients, and better performance in EMEA more than offset COVID-19 and labor-related impacts in other regions.

New Holland adds T7 Heavy Duty with PLM™ Intelligence to series of agricultural tractors

New Holland North America introduces its T7 Heavy Duty Tractor with PLM™ Intelligence to the line of agricultural tractors. The refreshed operator environment and introduction to PLM™ Intelligence technology sets the new benchmark in this category of tractors – creating a range of customization features that enable operators to personalize their tractor to their individual preferences.

The new T7 HD maintains the powerful performance, exceptional agility and outstanding versatility that are the hallmark of this tractor and delivers a superior working experience with the brand-new Horizon Ultra cab and next-generation PLM Intelligence features. It is ideal for contractors who need to multi-task in a variety of field and transport applications, and look for a boost to their comfort, efficiency and productivity.
“The T7 Heavy Duty with PLM™ Intelligence series was developed with the customers needs at the forefront,” says Ken Paul, High Horsepower Marketing Manager for New Holland Agriculture North America. “We listened and addressed first-hand feedback from operator in what key items they are looking for in their equipment. Integrating the new generation of PLM™ Intelligence to the T7 HD only elevates the tractor. Farmers now can easily do more in their operation and be remotely connected to dealers and support services increasing overall efficiency and profitability.”

“The T7 HD might seem the same from outside, with the same compact, stylish appearance,” explains Oscar Baroncelli, New Holland Agriculture Tractors Product Management Leader Global, “but it’s totally new inside: just 2% of parts are carry-overs from the previous model! It is more connected than ever and sets a new record as the quietest in the industry with just 66 dBA. We believe it is going to transform our customers’ experience when they work in the field.”
The T7 HD maintains the T7 range “family feeling” while offering a spacious work environment where the driver feels far less enclosed by the cab structure. The cab has been lengthened to provide additional room for the passenger and more floor space. Customers will appreciate the ample storage available: a 30-liter storage space behind the seat that will comfortably hold the driver’s carry-on items; a 12-liter capacity cooled compartment; covered storage behind the passenger seat with a USB charging point and a mains voltage socket; open storage trays on the right side of the cab, and a netted storage bin within the roof bezel. The redesign has further improved visibility to the front and down to the rear hitch and implement, while cameras keep a safe watch on the area around the tractor. A new work light package with up to 24 LED lights ensures visibility around the tractor and implement is maintained into the night.

The spacious cab provides a supremely comfortable work environment with clean, uncluttered surfaces and intuitive operation with ergonomically located controls on the new SideWinder Ultra armrest and user-friendly IntelliView 12-inch display. The controls can be configured to match the operator’s preferences, and customization is as simple and extensive as desired. The CentreView display placed in the centre of the steering wheel – an industry first – provides a clear line of sight. The new class-leading automatic climate control system with zone selection, which has 35% more capacity than the previous model, easily maintains a comfortable temperature in all seasons. The top-of-the-range Auto Comfort seat features lateral suspension and a climate control system that extracts moisture on hot days or warms on cold mornings. The Horizon Ultra cab’s advanced connectivity enables customers to bring their digital life on board effortlessly, as their mobile device automatically connects to the screen and can be operated with a button on the armrest.
PLM Intelligence: towards agriculture 4.0

The T7 HD introduces the next-generation PLM Intelligence, which represents a step forward in New Holland’s Precision Land Management strategy. It marks the shift from traditional farming practices to agriculture 4.0., where Precision and Interconnected Farming assists farmers to plan all operations in advance, manage in real time the behavior and performance of each machine, and achieve maximum precision and efficiency.
“These new developments are the result of New Holland’s strategy to be more and more connected to our customers,” says Carlo Lambro, New Holland Brand President. “Servitization and digitalization are the gates to the future. They have made possible to integrate the physical presence at the wheel with an array of digital services that mean we can always be at our customer’s side, helping them to get the job done.”
The next-generation PLM Intelligence is a new electronic architecture that will be adopted in all New Holland next-generation equipment, so that customers will find the same logic when switching machines and easily access data to get the job done more efficiently. This is part of New Holland’s strategy to integrate digital technologies to deliver a smart and connected agriculture, with easy-to-use solutions that make farming more sustainable and productive. They include the traditional precision farming applications aimed at making the operator’s life easier while optimizing yield and input costs; solutions based on connectivity and monitoring focused on improving the machine’s productivity; and cloud-based solutions based on data analysis and planning to facilitate farm management decisions.

Through the MyNewHolland App, customers can register their machine and retrieve its technical information, and access the MyPLMConnect portal, where they can manage their fleet and farm data in a single environment. The MyPLMConnect system enables them to receive dynamic information in real time from individual machines at work in the field and analyze the data to make informed decisions.

New Holland is also introducing the new PLM Cygnus receiver, which is core to the enhanced autoguidance architecture on its tractors featuring PLM Intelligence. It provides reliable position, compensating for terrain variations, and helps acquire guidance lines very quickly, delivering accurate and reliable guidance. The receiver also supports New Holland’s satellite-based correction sources, in addition to the highly accurate RTK correction distributed through the brand’s PLM RTK+ network.

New Holland’s advanced connectivity also helps customers minimize downtime. The machine is connected to the farmer and the dealer, who can monitor the location and status of the registered connected units. They are able to conduct remote diagnostics via the New Holland Remote Assistance tool as well as supporting the operator in the cab with the IntelliView Connect feature which enables them to share screen sessions. The machine is also connected to New Holland’s Control Room, which alerts the dealer about error codes, suggests solutions, and can even prevent possible failures.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Tuesday July 27 Ag News

– Melissa Bartels, NE Extension Educator

We are starting to see populations of immature grasshoppers across the state. Stay tuned as I discuss how to evaluate your alfalfa fields and potential control options.

Grasshoppers can be damaging in high numbers to our alfalfa and hay fields. And they will only get worse as the summer continues. You may need control in your field.

Control begins with scouting to determine if insecticides are economically useful. Exact economic thresholds can’t be determined because of variables like value of the alfalfa and growth stage of both alfalfa and grasshopper. Still, if the grasshopper population in an established field is higher than 5 grasshoppers per square yard or 15 grasshoppers per square yard in field margins, insecticides probably can be worthwhile. New fields planted in late August are very susceptible to grasshopper feeding and treatment is probably needed if the grasshopper population is just half this level.

Around many fields, grasshoppers have just started moving in from the field margins. Treating just the outside 150 feet, probably is sufficient in these situations. However, if the entire field is already infested, it usually is best to first harvest the alfalfa and then apply insecticide to protect the regrowth. There are several insecticides labeled for use on alfalfa.

To reduce the cost and amount of insecticide used when treating an entire field, harvest the alfalfa but leave several small, uncut strips across the field. The remaining grasshoppers will quickly congregate in these strips, enabling you to treat just these smaller areas.

Please be especially careful to avoid injuring bee and other important pollinating insects when using insecticides and carefully read and follow all label directions. Some precautions you can take to protect bees include time of day when spraying, using less toxic insecticides, and avoiding areas with blooming plants.

If you have many grasshoppers in your alfalfa, control them soon. As they grow larger, they’ll only get worse.

Nebraska Producers Featured in National Advertising Campaign

(NE Beef Council newsletter)

The Beef Checkoff has continually worked to share the beef production story in an effort to strengthen trust between consumers and producers. One way to accomplish this objective is by having real farmers and ranchers tell their stories through video. As more and more consumers express interest in knowing how their food is raised, it becomes increasingly important to provide transparency into beef production practices.

Recently, the Nebraska Beef Council partnered with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association to film two short-form videos featuring Switzer Ranch near Burwell, NE and Weber Feedyards near Dorchester, NE. The videos focus on sustainability practices implemented at each of the locations with highlights including the use of solar energy, grazing programs and sun shades to improve animal welfare.

"We were proud to work with the Beef Checkoff to showcase the beef industry here in Nebraska," said Sarah Sortum, co-owner of Switzer Ranch. "We have a great story to tell and these videos will help consumers understand that we work hard to provide a safe and wholesome product using sustainable practices."

The videos will be used as part of a national beef sustainability campaign starting in the fall of 2021 and will be extended to consumers at a state and national level. The full-length videos will be available on the Beef. It's What's For Dinner website and YouTube channels. Shorter forms of the videos will be used as video ads on social media sites such as Facebook or Instagram as well as a variety of streaming television and digital radio platforms.

RFA Pledge to President: Ethanol to Achieve Net Zero Emissions by 2050 or Sooner

In a letter sent today to President Joe Biden, Renewable Fuels Association members from across the country memorialized their commitment to ensuring ethanol achieves a net-zero carbon footprint, on average, by 2050 or sooner. Ethanol is already cutting greenhouse gas emissions by half compared to gasoline, the letter says, but “we can—and must—do more” to decarbonize transportation fuels and combat climate change in the decades ahead. The letter comes after RFA’s board of directors met last week in St. Louis and adopted a resolution outlining their carbon performance goals for 2030 and 2050.

“Today’s grain-based ethanol is already a low-carbon fuel that is helping to clean up our nation’s transportation fuels,” RFA members wrote, highlighting a recent analysis from the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory that shows today’s typical corn ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 52 percent when directly compared to gasoline. “But with smart policy measures, ethanol can do even more. It can serve as an affordable zero-emissions fuel for light-duty cars and trucks, while also helping to decarbonize medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, aviation, marine, and stationary power generation.”

Specifically, RFA’s board of directors—which is exclusively composed of renewable fuel producers—committed to the following goals during their meeting last week:
    By 2030, ensure that ethanol reduces GHG emissions by at least 70 percent, on average, when compared directly to gasoline.
    By 2050, ensure that ethanol achieves net-zero lifecycle GHG emissions, on average.

“Complex challenges call for leadership and innovative solutions,” said RFA Chairperson Jeanne McCaherty, Chief Executive Officer of Guardian Energy Management LLC. “The carbon reduction goals announced by RFA today mark a bold commitment to innovation, investment, and continuous improvement in the renewable fuels sector. Ethanol producers are already producing America’s top low-carbon fuel and are eager to do their part to decarbonize our transportation sector and move our nation toward net-zero emissions. I look forward to working with RFA’s membership, policymakers, and the entire renewable fuels industry to make this vision a reality.”

Commenting on the letter, RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper said, “Ethanol is a low-cost solution for reducing GHG emissions that is available here and now, but our industry is on the cusp of providing even bigger and better GHG reductions in the years ahead. Our member companies firmly believe that ethanol can achieve a net-zero carbon footprint by mid-century, if not well before, as the supply chain adopts carbon capture, utilization and sequestration (CCUS) technologies; uses more renewable electricity and biogas to power biorefineries; and expands carbon-efficient agricultural feedstock production practices. I applaud RFA’s members for stepping up to the plate and putting their decarbonization commitments on paper for the whole world to see, and I have no doubt that zero-carbon corn ethanol is just around the bend.”

To support the achievement of its goals, RFA encouraged the administration to move forward with several key policy initiatives: development of a national Clean Fuel Standard, support for CCUS, and deployment of more flex-fuel vehicles.

The letter was signed by ethanol producers from California, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

RMA Extends Deadlines, Waives Interest Deferral for Emergency Drought Relief

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its Risk Management Agency (RMA) will authorize Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs) to extend deadlines for premium and administrative fee payments, defer and waive the resulting interest accrual and allow other flexibilities to help farmers and ranchers through widespread drought conditions in many parts of the nation.

Producers now have additional time to pay premium and administrative fees, and interest will be waived for 60 days or the termination date on the policy, whichever comes first. RMA also authorized AIPs to waive interest for an additional 60 days for Written Payment Agreements due between August 1 and September 30, 2021.

“Farmers and ranchers are weathering tough drought conditions this year, and we want to help ease the burden by extending payment deadlines and deferring interest accrual,” RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy said. “USDA is using all of the tools in the toolbox to help producers amid the drought, including these crop insurance flexibilities.”

These new crop insurance flexibilities are part of USDA’s broader response to help producers impacted by drought. On July 13, 2021, RMA authorized emergency procedures to help streamline and accelerate the adjustment of losses and issuance of indemnity payments to crop insurance policyholders in impacted areas. Additionally, RMA updated policy on July 6, 2021, to allow producers with crop insurance to hay, graze or chop cover crops at any time and still receive 100% of the prevented planting payment. This policy change supports use of cover crops, which can help producers build resilience to drought.

Additional Drought Assistance

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial assistance to improve irrigation efficiency and water storage in soil, helping producers build resilience to drought. In response to drought this year, NRCS targeted $41.8 million in Arizona, California, Colorado and Oregon through Conservation Incentive Contracts, a new option available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, focused on drought practices.

FSA and NRCS also offer a broad suite of programs available to producers to help recover losses from drought. Disaster assistance programs and loans are available to help producers offset losses and get financing to help with recovery. Producers should visit, where they can use the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool or Disaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet to learn more about program or loan options.

More Information

RMA staff are working with AIPs and other customers by phone, mail and electronically to support crop insurance coverage for producers. Farmers with crop insurance questions or needs should contact their insurance agents about conducting business remotely (by telephone or email). More information can be found at

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

Idaho Dairy Producer Testifies Before Congress on USMCA Enforcement Importance

National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) Executive Committee member Allan Huttema said USMCA enforcement is essential for the agreement to reach its potential for U.S. dairy farmers in testimony today at a U.S. Senate Finance Committee hearing on the impact of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on U.S. dairy. Huttema operates an 800-cow dairy in Parma, Idaho and serves as chair of the Darigold and Northwest Dairy Association boards, both of which are NMPF and U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) members.

“I thank Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Crapo, my own senator, for extending me the opportunity to discuss the impact the USMCA has had on my farm and the thousands of other dairy farms throughout the country,” said Huttema. “Enforcement of trade agreements like USMCA is important to ensure we retain the ability to supply high-quality cheeses, milk powders and a variety of other dairy products to customers around the world.”  

“NMPF and the dairy producers it represents are grateful to the Senate Finance Committee for inviting Allan to discuss the benefits that the USMCA has brought U.S. dairy producers and cooperatives,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF. “But as Huttema said so well, adequate enforcement is necessary to ensure American dairy producers are provided the access promised in the agreement. We are grateful to the Senate Finance Committee members for their advocacy in support of the recently initiated dispute settlement proceedings over Canada’s dairy tariff rate quotas (TRQs) – a critical step in enforcement of this agreement.”

The $6.5 billion worth of U.S. dairy products exported each year underpins the economic health of dairy producers, processors, and manufacturers across the United States. American dairy exports create more than 85,000 direct jobs and have a nearly $12 billion economic impact. Whether it is Canada’s TRQ administration or Mexico’s array of new regulations intended to limit imports, NMPF and USDEC have urged the U.S. government to ensure the USMCA is fully enforced. Enforcement secures the access extended to U.S. dairy producers in the USMCA and sends a strong message to other U.S. trading partners that attempts to subvert trade obligations will not be tolerated.

“The U.S. Dairy Export Council appreciates the Senate Finance Committee and its members for hearing Allan’s testimony and answers regarding the importance of the USMCA and new trade opportunities to the U.S. dairy industry,” said Krysta Harden, President and CEO of USDEC. “USDEC agrees with Allan regarding the need to pursue greater market access opportunities for high-quality American dairy products that our international consumers demand. USMCA was an important step forward, but it’s not enough. We need new trade agreements to expand on Congress’ hard work in passing USMCA. The EU is filling the vacuum that American trade policy is leaving – an issue that Congress needs to address with additional market opportunities for U.S. exports. We appreciate Allan sharing his insight and concerns with the agreement’s implementation and its impact on dairy farmers, processors and manufacturers throughout the United States.”

Cattle Producers Submit Sharp Rebuke of USMCA to Senate Finance Committee

Today, R-CALF USA submitted a Statement for the Record regarding the hearing scheduled for Tuesday, July 27, 2021 by the United States Senate Committee on Finance titled Implementation and Enforcement of the United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement: One Year After Entry into Force.

In its introduction, the cattle group states that while several sectors of the U.S. economy report benefits arising from the renegotiated U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the agreement has failed the United States cattle industry.  

Contained in the statement are charts depicting a significant beef and cattle trade imbalance the United States has with Canada and Mexico and it points out that the U.S. imports from Canada and Mexico about two and one-half times the value and about three and one-half times the quantity of beef and cattle that it exports to those two countries.

“The trade in cattle and beef under the USMCA is so out of balance that the United States cattle industry cannot benefit from beef exports to Asia or other parts of the world. This is because the United States’ world beef and cattle exports are insufficient in both value and volume to overcome the horrendous USMCA trade deficit,” the cattle group wrote.

Using 2020 trade data, the statement explains that the United States’ world trade balance in cattle and beef has only worked to reduce, but not overcome, the trade deficit it has with Canada and Mexico. For example, the group asserts the United States had a 2.2-billion-pound deficit under the USMCA that was only reduced to a 1.5-billion-pound world trade volume deficit, and the USMCA value-based trade deficit of $3.3 billion was only reduced to a $1.1 billion world trade deficit by trading with the rest of the world.

According to the group’s statement, “This means, at best, the United States engages in beef and cattle trade with the rest of the world to help mitigate its USMCA trade deficit.”

The group further asserts that undifferentiated beef and cattle imports from Canada and Mexico function as direct substitutes for U.S. cattle and beef and are causing the exodus of U.S. beef cattle operations, shrinkage of the U.S. cattle herd, and elimination of opportunities for aspiring cattle farmers and ranchers.

U.S. cattle producers “cannot be expected to prosper when multinational beef packers, processors and importers continually source greater quantities of undifferentiated beef and cattle from Mexico and Canada,” the group states.

The group urged Congress to move quickly and decisively to allow U.S. cattle producers to compete with the rising imports of beef and cattle from Canada and Mexico by passing new mandatory country-of-origin labeling (mCOOL) legislation to require all beef in U.S. commerce to be conspicuously labeled as to where the animal from which the beef was derived was born, raised, and harvested.

House Ag Committee passes H.R. 267 to extend WHIP+ for 2020 and 2021 Disasters

House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott and Representative Mike Thompson applaud the passage of today's 2020 WHIP+ Reauthorization Act and Associated Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute Bill:

“I’m glad that we were able to come together in a bipartisan way to pass this bill that, once enacted, will provide the framework for getting much needed disaster assistance to our agricultural producers. As we can see right now, today, through the ravaging fires through so many of our western agriculture states in our country, our unanimous, bipartisan bill is most timely and very much needed. I am very proud of the bipartisan work on this disaster bill today by both Democrats and Republicans, working together for our great nation. As we know, severe and unforeseen weather events wreaked havoc on crops and livestock throughout 2020 and continue now during the 2021 growing season. It is my hope and expectation that as a Committee, we continue to focus on disaster relief and engage every opportunity available to strengthen the farm safety net and find a way to get immediate disaster aid out to our farmers, ranchers, and foresters more quickly without delays,” said Chairman David Scott.

“From extreme fires to historic drought, our district and our nation have seen devastating disasters this year and last year. The Federal government must provide every tool and resource possible as we rebuild. That includes supporting family farmers and producers who had their crops ruined by smoke damage in the 2020 fires in our district,” said Thompson, whose district continues to recover from the LNU Lightning Complex and Glass Fires of 2020. “Earlier this year, I introduced the WHIP+ Reauthorization Act to ensure we reactivate the critical Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus to help agricultural producers in our district. Today I’m glad to see my bipartisan bill approved by the Agriculture Committee and I’ll work to ensure it’s considered on the House floor as soon as possible.”

Stakeholder groups that have expressed their support for the bill include the National Farmers Union, the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Milk Producers Federation, National Sorghum Producers, and the National Cotton Council.

H.R. 267, the 2020 WHIP+ Reauthorization Act passed out of the House Agriculture Committee on July 27th, 2021 with unanimous, bipartisan support.

House Ag Committee Advances Disaster Aid Bill for 2020 and 2021

Today, the House Agriculture Committee advanced the 2020 WHIP+ Reauthorization Act (H.R. 267), which would provide authorization for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) in 2020 and 2021. This legislation would broaden the assistance available via WHIP+ and authorize $8.5 billion in disaster aid for eligible causes of loss.

“NAWG is pleased to see the House Agriculture Committee working in a bipartisan fashion to deliver much-needed assistance to growers impacted by natural disasters,” said NAWG CEO Chandler Goule. “Currently, wheat growers in the upper plains and across the western United States are experiencing an unprecedented drought. This legislation makes meaningful improvements to WHIP+, particularly in the trigger for drought assistance, excessive heat, and freeze. As Congress continues to work to get needed support to growers, NAWG will continue to work with our states, legislators, and USDA to enhance WHIP+ and challenges associated with the Quality Loss Adjustment program.”

NFU Welcomes Effort to Broaden Disaster Assistance for Farmers and Ranchers

The House Agriculture Committee today approved a disaster bill that would broaden the assistance available to farmers and ranchers affected by extreme weather events. In addition to extending the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+), the WHIP+ Milk Loss Program, and the On-Farm Storage Loss Program for 2020 and 2021, the legislation would also expand the causes of loss covered by WHIP+ and streamline its administration.

As farmers across the West endure severe drought, wildfires, and unusually high temperatures, it is critical that U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) assistance programs can effectively respond – particularly because these and other environmental challenges are expected to become more frequent and extreme with climate change. In a statement, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Rob Larew welcomed the committee’s action and urged passage of the bill.

“We sincerely appreciate the House Agriculture Committee’s commitment to addressing the losses farmers and ranchers are suffering due to natural disasters.

“This year, a severe drought blanketing the Western half of the country is forcing some to make financially and emotionally painful decisions like fallowing their land or selling off their herds. Unfortunately, these kinds of extreme weather events are only expected to worsen in the years to come – making it harder and harder for farmers to stay in business.

“Our disaster assistance programs will need to keep up with the growing pressures our members are facing. Today, the House Agriculture Committee made the right move by advancing this bill to help ensure that we have access to the support we need in a timely manner. Given the urgency of the matter, the House and Senate should act quickly to pass this measure.”

Wheat Crops in North Dakota Impacted by Drought

Most of the country has been significantly impacted by the drought, and spring wheat growers are seriously affected. To gain a better understanding of the drought’s effect, National Association of Wheat Grower’s CEO, Chandler Goule, and National Wheat Foundation project manager, Anne Osborne, are attending the Wheat Quality Council’s 2021 Hard Spring and Durum Wheat Tour.

By gaining this firsthand experience, Goule will be able to better represent the NAWG state members and create a more unified voice for the industry as NAWG advocates for wheat farmers in Washington, D.C.  Crop insurance, disaster assistance, and additional funding for breeding programs for more resilient crops are among the many programs NAWG continues to promote on Capitol Hill and with the Administration.

“We are looking forward to learning more from wheat producers on the ground this week and understand the ways NAWG can better advocate for the common good of the industry,” said CEO, Chandler Goule. “We always want to listen and understand how policies or current situations are impacting wheat growers, and being able to attend these tours provides that instrumental opportunity.”

Anne Osborne, project manager for the National Wheat Foundation, benefits from the networking on the tour. “The people on the tour are interested in promoting high-quality, profitable wheat just like The Foundation is doing,” Osborne said. “They may be interested in participating in our National Wheat Yield contest or helping with some of our other projects about high quality, high profit, or nutrition through wheat.”

Engaging with breeders, food scientists, millers, bakers, producers, input providers, nutritionists, and consumers allows NAWG and NWF to develop meaningful research projects and education programs that will increase the value of wheat for all segments.  

MyPlate Launches USDA’s First Alexa Skill

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the launch of its first ever Alexa skill, a digital tool for parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers between four and 24 months old. Families who use the MyPlate Alexa skill receive nutrition information on what and how to feed their child based on their age.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to building back better by developing a more resilient federal nutrition safety net that not only ensures all Americans have food to eat but also access to nutritious diet that meets their individual needs,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "USDA’s MyPlate Alexa skill leverages technology to meet American families where they are and foster healthy eating habits from an early age.”

The MyPlate Alexa skill is the latest addition to MyPlate’s extensive suite of resources aimed at helping Americans achieve a healthy, attainable diet that fits their individual lifestyle and budget. The new Alexa skill helps parents and caregivers introduce simple, tasty, and nutritious foods while helping to establish healthy eating habits starting at a young age. It is accessible to all Alexa device owners and iOS and Android users who download the free Alexa app.

One-fifth of American children currently suffer from obesity, which research shows is directly linked to adult obesity and adverse health impacts. With nearly three in four adults currently experiencing some form of a diet-related illness, it is crucial that we take steps to promote good nutrition.

“USDA recognizes that nutrition is vital to combating the onset of diet-related illness,” said Stacy Dean, USDA’s deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services. “Through this new resource, families receive science-based food and nutrition advice to set their child up for life-long healthy eating habits.”

USDA plans to expand the MyPlate Alexa skill to include additional life stages, starting with children two years and older and eventually covering older adults. More information on the MyPlate Alexa skill can be found at

MyPlate – originally launched in 2011 – is the consumer-friendly translation of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and provides a general guide on what and how much to eat from the five food groups – fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy or soy alternatives. offers a wide variety of resources to make healthy eating guidance easily accessible to all Americans. Additionally, USDA’s Start Simple with MyPlate app helps users set and complete easy-to-obtain goals, based on the MyPlate food groups, that encourage healthy eating habits in a fun and motivating way.

Nobell Foods Raises $75M Series B To Introduce Cheese Made From Plants

(Press Release)

Nobell Foods raises $75M to introduce delicious cheeses made from plant-derived dairy proteins, supporting its larger mission of creating a radically more humane and sustainable food system. Founded and led by Magi Richani, Nobell creates key dairy proteins, including casein, from high-quality soybeans, enabling the brand to make cheeses that taste, smell, melt, stretch, and even age like those made from animals, and challenging the way we talk about, think about, and eat cheese.

With its Series B closing of $75 million, Nobell emerges with over $100M in funding backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, and notable support from Robert Downey Jr.'s FootPrint Coalition Ventures. Others joining this round include: Unovis, Germin8 Ventures, Fifty Years, AgFunder, Pear VC, GL Ventures, the venture capital arm of Hillhouse Group, and Mission Bay Capital. Prior to this Series B round, Nobell raised over $25M since launching from seed money startup accelerator Y Combinator in 2017. Nobell plans to launch its cheeses to the public by the end of next year.

Nobell's patented approach to making dairy from plants is the result of more than four years of research and development, and the unrelenting desire of Magi Richani to transform the food system and make cheeses that stretch, melt and taste as great as the ones from cows and goats. An engineer by training, Richani understood the crucial role that essential dairy proteins - caseins - play in giving cheese the qualities we love. Like all proteins, caseins have a unique genetic code.

Richani and her team at Nobell discovered how to recreate this genetic code in soybean seeds and grow plants that have the same dairy caseins found in animal milks. Today, Nobell can produce more caseins per acre more efficiently, sustainably, and cost effectively than cows. Using proprietary processes, Nobell extracts the caseins and uses them to make delicious cheese. Nobell will use funds from its Series B round to expand its team and farming partnerships, scale production and bring its product to market.