Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Monday August 30 Crop Progress + Ag News


For the week ending August 29, 2021, there were 5.6 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 11% very short, 36% short, 51% adequate, and 2% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 17% very short, 42% short, 41% adequate, and 0% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 5% very poor, 8% poor, 20% fair, 45% good, and 22% excellent. Corn dough was 93%, behind 98% last year, and near 94% for the five-year average. Dented was 64%, behind 72% last year, but near 60% average. Mature was 8%, near 10% last year and 5% average.

Soybean condition rated 3% very poor, 7% poor, 21% fair, 51% good, and 18% excellent. Soybeans setting pods was 97%, near 100% last year and 95% average. Dropping leaves was 12%, near 14% last year and 8% average.

Sorghum condition rated 8% very poor, 16% poor, 28% fair, 37% good, and 11% excellent. Sorghum coloring was 61%, near 58% last year, and ahead of 54% average. Mature was 2%, equal to both last year and average.

Dry edible bean condition rated 2% very poor, 6% poor, 24% fair, 47% good, and 21% excellent. Dry edible beans setting pods was 95%, near 93% last year. Dropping leaves was 23%, behind 30% last year.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 12% very poor, 16% poor, 52% fair, 18% good, and 2% excellent.


 Much needed rainfall across most of the State limited Iowa’s farmers to 4.4 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending August 29, 2021, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Field activities included harvesting hay, oats and corn silage. Producers were getting ready for row crop harvest with repairs to equipment and bins.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 14% very short, 30% short, 52% adequate and 4% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 20% very short, 41% short, 38% adequate and 1% surplus.

Corn in or beyond the dough stage reached 95%, one week ahead of the 5-year average. Sixty-six percent of the corn crop has reached the dent stage or beyond, four days ahead of normal. Six percent of corn has reached maturity. Iowa’s corn condition rated 58% good to excellent. Wind and heavy rain damaged some corn and soybean fields in north central, northeast and southeast Iowa.

Soybeans coloring or beyond reached 18%, two days ahead of the 5-year average. There were scattered reports of soybeans dropping leaves. Soybean condition was rated 60% good to excellent.

Oats for grain harvest is virtually complete at 99%.

The third cutting of alfalfa hay reached 79% complete, two days ahead of the 5-year average.

Pasture condition was rated 31% good to excellent. The week’s rains helped pastures show improvement as they greened up in some areas.

USDA Crop Progress Report - Corn, Soybean Conditions Hold Steady

Despite continued drought in Northern and Western parts of the country and storms that crossed parts of the Eastern Corn Belt last week, national corn and soybean conditions managed to hold steady, USDA NASS reported in its weekly Crop Progress report on Monday.

After falling a total of 4 percentage points over the previous two weeks, the condition of the nation's corn crop held steady at 60% good to excellent last week, NASS said. Corn dented was estimated at 59%, 4 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 55%, while the percent of the crop reaching maturity was 9%, near the five-year average of 10%.

Like corn conditions, soybean conditions held steady last week after falling the previous two weeks. NASS estimated that 56% of the crop was in good-to-excellent condition as of Sunday.  Soybean development nationwide was running slightly ahead of the average pace last week, with soybeans setting pods at 93%, 1 percentage point ahead of the average of 92%, and soybeans dropping leaves at 9%, 2 percentage points ahead of the average of 7%.

Meanwhile, spring wheat harvest slowed somewhat last week, moving ahead 11 percentage points to reach 88% complete as of Sunday, shrinking this year's lead over the five-year average to 17%. The previous two weeks, the harvest was running 22 percentage points ahead of average.

The following are some other highlights from this week's Crop Progress report:
Sorghum headed was 95%, 2 percentage points ahead of the five-year average. Sorghum coloring was pegged at 59%, 3 percentage points behind average. Sorghum condition was rated 58% good to excellent, down 4 percentage points.

Cotton setting bolls was 86%, 8 percentage points behind the average pace. Cotton bolls opening was 21%, 5 percentage points ahead of average. Cotton condition was rated 70% good to excellent, down 1 percentage point from the previous week.

Rice was 97% headed, 1 percentage points behind the average pace. Rice harvested was 19%, 3 percentage points behind the average pace. Rice condition was rated 77% good to excellent, unchanged from the previous week.

Oats were 92% harvested, 3 percentage points behind average. Barley was 85% harvested, 7 percentage points ahead of the five-year average.


USDA Designates Dixon County, Nebraska, as a Primary Natural Disaster Area

This Secretarial natural disaster designation allows the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters through emergency loans. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts. FSA will review the loans based on the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, these counties suffered from a drought intensity value during the growing season of 1) D2 Drought-Severe for 8 or more consecutive weeks or 2) D3 Drought-Extreme or D4 Drought-Exceptional.

Impacted Area: Nebraska
Triggering Disaster: Drought
Application Deadline: April 11, 2022
Primary County Eligible: Dixon
Contiguous Counties Also Eligible:
     Nebraska: Cedar, Dakota, Thurston and Wayne
     South Dakota: Clay and Union

More Resources

On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help you determine program or loan options. To file a Notice of Loss or to ask questions about available programs, contact your local  USDA Service Center.


– Melissa Bartels, NE Extension Educator

Is it the very hungry caterpillar or an army of fall armyworms? Fall armyworms have been causing significant damage to some alfalfa fields in southeastern Nebraska the past few weeks. Producers have watched a nice alfalfa field be nearly completely stripped of leaves in a matter of a few days by these pests, reducing their yield substantially.

Fall armyworm caterpillars feed on a wide host of plants and they do most of their feeding in the last 4 days of their larvae development. Therefore, it is very important to scout fields regularly in the early morning and late afternoon when caterpillars are most active to spot these forage offenders when they are small. Once they are larger than ¾ of inch they can do significant damage in a short amount of time.

A population of 3 or more caterpillars per square foot is a reasonable treatment threshold. However, the use of insecticides is not recommended unless the majority of the caterpillars are less than ¾ of an inch long. There are several insecticides labeled to control this pest in alfalfa. When considering a chemical treatment option, remember caterpillars ¾ of inch or longer are close to maturity and are tougher to control with an insecticide. In this case, cutting the alfalfa to reduce the damage might be the best management option.

The fall armyworm does not overwinter here in Nebraska. In fact, their populations buildup in the south during the summer and the moths fly north reaching us in the late summer or early fall. Fall armyworm caterpillars vary in color from light tan, green to nearly black with a darker head. Some key features of the fall armyworm are a predominantly white, inverted Y shape on its head, and four spots in the shape of a square on the end of its abdomen.

So be sure to get out and monitor your alfalfa fields.

Pilcher Is New ISU Pesticide Safety Education Manager

The most important thing about any pesticide is to use it safely.

Carol Pilcher, the newest manager of the Pesticide Safety Education Program with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, is committed to keeping private and commercial pesticide applicators safe.

“If I can just get one farmer or one commercial applicator to take another look at that label and wear the protective equipment that they should, then I have made a difference,” said Pilcher, who started in her new role Aug. 1.

Pilcher has spent the majority of her career working on pest management and regulatory policy. She earned her master’s in entomology from Iowa State in 1997 and her Ph.D. from Iowa State in 2001.

As manager of the Pesticide Safety Education program, she will oversee the training administered to private and commercial pesticide applicators across Iowa.

By partnering with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the program provides applicators the required education for certification and re-certification, on a three-year cycle that covers pesticide laws and regulations, safety, application and new and emerging issues.

The commercial program provides training in over 20 different programs.  A few of these programs include agricultural (insects, weeds and diseases) pest management, forest pest management, ornamental and turf pest management, seed treatments, right of way pest management and aerial applicator pest management.

Last year the private pesticide programs trained 12,351 farmers (private applicators). The commercial programs trained 10,596 applicators in 2020.

Pilcher took over for Kristine Schaefer, who retired in February 2021. Pilcher said the commercial programs have the ability to provide recent updates and answer questions concerning recent changes in the use of pesticides. There have been many changes during the past year. She looks forward to the continued relationship that applicators have with ISU Extension and Outreach.

“I understand extension’s role and its relationship with the farmers,” she said. “The field agronomists really respect the relationship they have with the farmers in their area. Our entire program respects this relationship and we want to help farmers with pesticide safety.”

Pilcher became interested in insects as a child, when her father showed her his 4-H insect collection.

She met her husband, Clint Pilcher, while they were both working in the Insectary at Colorado State University. Clint Pilcher earned his Ph.D. in entomology from Iowa State in 1999, and also has an extensive career in pest management.

Biologist Studying Nematode Bacteria for Possible Solution to $100 Billion Problem

Farmers around the world know the devastating impact of plant-parasitic nematodes. These tiny worms feed on plants, ruining an estimated 25% of the world’s crops and costing roughly $100 billion in damage each year.

But with a new five-year grant totaling just over $1 million, a Texas Tech University researcher is studying the feasibility of a novel solution to the problem – one that holds promise for the environment as well as the agriculture industry.

“Currently, these nematodes threatening crops are difficult to control without using costly chemicals that can be environmentally damaging or promote strains that are resistant to treatment,” said Amanda M.V. Brown, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. “Therefore, this project investigates an alternative, non-toxic solution that may be developed to control plant-parasitic nematodes. The focus is on naturally occurring bacteria that have been discovered living within these worms that may drive their survival and direct or mediate their devastating impacts on plants.”

Brown recently received the joint grant from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to examine the role of these bacteria, which are present in some of the most damaging nematodes.

These bacteria are related to bacteria, such as Wolbachia, currently being used in breakthrough approaches to control mosquito-borne diseases. Brown’s research will use global sampling, DNA and RNA sequencing, computer software development and novel experiments to uncover the function of these widespread bacteria and bridge the traditionally separated fields of plant pathology, nematology and microbiology.

“Even though nematodes are the most abundant animals on land, and we know that animal microbiomes are critical to animal health and function, we still know almost nothing about nematode microbiomes,” Brown said. “It is amazing that the endosymbiotic bacteria, Wolbachia, which is found in most insects, has been successfully harnessed for biological control of mosquito-borne diseases, modifying mosquito populations and reducing virus transmission. We have similar goals for controlling nematodes that directly damage plants or vector plant viral diseases.”

But before being able to control the nematode bacteria, Brown and her fellow scientists must first understand the bacteria’s role, both in the nematodes and in the larger ecosystem.

“The goal is to generate the first coherent picture of how these nematode-inhabiting bacteria function to impact nematode biology and thereby impact crops,” Brown said.

“We also will examine how stressors such as climate change and land use affect the interactions between these bacteria, nematodes and plants. By looking at temperature’s effects at the level of endosymbiotic bacteria role, nematode parasitic activity and outcomes for plant communities, we hope to obtain foundational knowledge that may be integrated with models for climate change and climate change mediation.”

In addition to the knowledge science in general can gain from this research, local high school students will benefit as well through a peer-mentoring program in genomics. Brown wants to impart to young scientists that microbes are not inherently bad.

“I am really passionate about microbes that confer benefits to hosts,” Brown said. “Historically, we have been biased to view microbes as predominantly ‘bad’ – and of course some microbes are ‘bad’ in that they are pathogens – but the majority of microbes on earth play roles other than as human pathogens most of the time. In fact, many microbes play essential beneficial roles in microbiomes of plants and animals.

“I am passionate about studying how and why these beneficial roles become stabilized in the face of potential ‘selfish’ mutations that would make some individuals reproduce more quickly but confer lower benefits to the system. This is what drives my interest in science.”

RFA: Simple Action by EPA Can Help Reduce Hurricane Ida’s Fuel Price Shock

With Hurricane Ida impacting the nation’s liquid fuel supply and distribution, the Renewable Fuels Association today urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take two quick and simple steps that can extend fuel supplies and reduce price spikes expected at the retail fuel pump.

The requested actions relate to pump labeling, underground storage tanks, and gasoline volatility regulations. Approving RFA’s request would allow many retailers who do not sell the lower-carbon E15 fuel blend today to immediately begin offering the fuel without being unduly delayed, RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper noted in a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan. EPA should also approve earlier requests to exercise enforcement discretion—if needed—to allow existing E15 retailers in conventional gasoline areas to continue selling the fuel through the remainder of the summer ozone control season.

“As the ethanol industry continues to recover from COVID-related market disruptions, a substantial amount of fuel ethanol production capacity (i.e., nearly 200,000 barrels per day) is either sitting idle today or producing industrial and/or other non-fuel grades of ethanol,” Cooper wrote. “With immediate action to grant the requested regulatory relief, some of this capacity could be quickly activated or reoriented to help alleviate impending fuel shortages resulting from Hurricane Ida. For many reasons, utilizing domestically produced low-carbon fuel to help offset the supply shortage is preferable to importing more petroleum products from OPEC+ nations, as is currently being planned.”

“As the Biden administration pursues initiatives to expand and fortify our nation’s energy infrastructure, Hurricane Ida serves as a poignant reminder that ethanol biorefineries are strategic assets that can and should play a larger role in powering America forward,” Cooper wrote.

Direct Reports

Matthew Diersen, Risk & Business Management Specialist, South Dakota State University

A few weeks have passed with the newest direct fed cattle reports from USDA-AMS. The reports cover base prices used in formal-priced transactions and the final net prices received across purchase types. The base prices show up thrice daily in morning, afternoon, and summary reports. Those prices are then aggregated into a weekly report. Here are some observations on the weekly reports available so far.

In looking at the new reports, I was reminded of several conversations held years ago with a local cattle feeder. He was not a fan of formula pricing. He sought premiums for the cattle he was finishing that he thought deserved a premium price, either for the way he finished them or for their inherent or underlying quality when placed. He thought that selling above-average cattle using formulas (or price adjustments of any kind) with an unknown base price or with a base price tied to a plant- or regional-average price, meant that he would be giving away much of the premium he sought. Seeing net prices, say for formula cattle, still only told part of the story. The more transparent base prices and more complete net prices seem to fill in more of the gap between the average value of average quality cattle and fair values for higher quality cattle being traded today.

The weekly formulated base, called LM_CT251 and numbered 3502 shows the formula base price across gender, general quality level, and delivery type. For example, there is now a head count and price range for the base price for formula priced steers, delivered dressed, grading 65-80% Choice. The average net price is there too, thus any major skew in the data would be easier to infer than in the past. The main averages are also broken out by state or region. It is all informative and overwhelming. However, knowing the base you are dealing with as a buyer and as a seller should mean better signals about the value of quality.

The weekly price distribution, numbered 3492, shows the volume of head across delivery types and purchase arrangements. The average net prices have been available previously. That series was mostly useful to monitor forward net prices over time to the negotiated and formula prices. If many cattle were forward contracted during a period of higher expected prices, and prices subsequently fell, then the forward net would be much higher than the negotiated. The opposite could also happen. Now the volumes are available in $2 increments from the average levels. The report displays histograms of volume of cattle by live and dressed bases. Many cattle in recent weeks have traded in a narrow range of live prices and a wider range of dressed prices. In general, the formula prices span a wider range than the negotiated prices. Over time, one would expect the forward prices may reflect the timing of the contracting and following a large move may also be reflected in the final distributions.

NASDA calls on USDA to protect diversity of meat processing through flexible funding opportunities

Today, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture expressed its recommendations for a resilient, diverse and secure meat processing system. Specifically, NASDA commented that flexible funding for solutions to workforce shortages and processing infrastructure investments for small to mid-sized meat processing facilities is critical to ensuring our food system is built to handle future challenges.

Twenty-seven state departments of agriculture operate state meat and poultry inspection programs covering approximately 1,900 small or very small establishments. State agriculture departments hold a unique position as they are the only entities certified to inspect meat other than the USDA. Nationwide, NASDA members report small establishments are facing significant challenges with shortages of inspectors and workers.

“Having re-assembled our food supply chains in response to each hurdle the COVID-19 pandemic has presented, NASDA members deeply understand the connection between diversity in production and food system resiliency,” NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn said. “We must do all we can to support our small meat processors now and invest in their ability to stand on their own into the future.”

To reduce the impact of labor shortages and recruit more workers, NASDA recommends using USDA funding to offset employment costs, invest in workforce training programs and offer apprenticeship programs for small processing plants.

“First and foremost, we must ensure our small meat processors are protected from the instability that understaffing and turnover produces,” NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn said. “Without the foundation of a secure and skilled workforce, small processors are destined to fold under any other market challenges.”

NASDA members also report high investment costs, and outdated facilities as a primary concern for small to mid-sized meat processors. In its comments, NASDA recommended providing funding for new equipment to increase the competitiveness and efficiency of small operations in addition to trainings on proactive food safety protocols and operating modernized facilities.

In addition, as USDA seeks to establish partners and new funding opportunities to support meat processors, NASDA urges USDA to recognize state departments of agriculture as exceptional resources.

“When funding is dedicated to state and local governments, state agriculture departments are better able to stabilize local supply chain disruptions and continue delivering critical services to farmers, ranchers and communities,” Glenn said.

In its comments NASDA also asked USDA intentionally to create opportunities with flexible funding structures to especially enable areas outside the mainland states to participate in federally implemented programs. For example, states such as Alaska, Hawaii and the four U.S. territories have experienced vastly different supply chain disruptions. NASDA members’ ability to use CARES Act funding for their state-specific needs saved rural communities from economic detriment.

“Each state has unique attributes that contribute to the overall complexity of the food system,” Glenn said. “We stand ready to help USDA support the long-term resiliency and diversity of our food system by creating opportunities that allow small meat processors to address their local needs and individual challenges.”

Lenders Can Now Apply for New Heirs’ Property Relending Program

Intermediary lenders can now apply for loans through the new Heirs’ Property Relending Program (HPRP). The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications today through October 29, 2021, and cooperatives, credit unions and nonprofit organizations are encouraged to apply for these competitive loans, which ultimately will help agricultural producers and landowners resolve heirs’ land ownership and succession issues.

“Heirs’ property issues have long been a barrier for many producers and landowners to access USDA programs and services, and this relending program provides access to capital to help producers find a resolution to these issues,” said Zach Ducheneaux, Administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). “USDA is committed to revising policies to be more equitable and removing barriers faced by heirs’ property owners is part of that effort.”

Through HPRP, FSA loans up to $5 million at a 1% interest rate to eligible lenders. Then, those eligible lenders will reloan funds to heirs to help resolve title issues by financing the purchase or consolidation of property interests and financing costs associated with a succession plan.

How to Apply

Intermediary lenders should apply by the October 29, 2021 deadline using the HPRP application form (FSA-2637), which can be submitted to FSA by mail:
FSA Deputy Administrator for Farm Loan Programs
Loan Making Division
STOP 0522
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20250

Additionally, FSA will host a webinar on September 15 at 2 p.m. ET for interested lenders, who can register or learn more on the FSA Outreach and Education webpage.

Eligible Lenders

Intermediary lenders must:
    be certified as a community development financial institution, and
    have experience and capability in making and servicing agricultural and commercial loans that are similar in nature.

If applications exceed the amount of available funds, FSA will prioritize applicants that both:
    have at least 10 years or more of experience with socially disadvantaged farmers; and
    are located in states that have adopted a statute consisting of enactment or adoption of the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act (UPHPA). A list of these states is available at farmers.gov/heirs/relending.

More Information

Frequently asked questions (including those in Spanish, Thai and Chinese), the August 3, 2021 overview webinar, and other resources can be found on farmers.gov/heirs/relending.

After the loans are announced, USDA will distribute information for heirs on how to apply. Information for heirs is also on farmers.gov/heirs/relending.

Living Soil Documentary Reaching New Audiences and New Highs

The Soil Health Institute (SHI), the non-profit charged with safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of soils, is proud to announce Living Soil, the organization’s ground-breaking soil health documentary, has been viewed more than 3 million times on YouTube. SHI is also expanding its reach to audiences around the globe, with Living Soil now available with closed captions in 20 languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Cantonese, German, Swahili, and Zulu.

“The Soil Health Institute has a global mission. Our goal is to scale the adoption of regenerative soil health systems around the globe that benefit farmers, the environment, and society,” explained Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, SHI’s President & CEO. “We’re humbled by the success of Living Soil, which is attracting about 2,500 unique views each day. We’re excited to have shared this knowledge with more than 3 million viewers and hope this documentary inspires more people around the globe to begin their soil health journey.”

About Living Soil

Living Soil tells the story of farmers, scientists, and policymakers working to incorporate regenerative agricultural practices to benefit soil health for years to come. Living Soil takes the viewer on a journey from the lush landscapes in Oregon, sunbaked fields of California, and vast green acres of the Midwest to the waterfront farming and fishing communities in and around the Chesapeake Bay. Each farmer shares a story as unique as the soil they manage with a universal theme that resonates throughout the film: Soil is a special resource everyone should cherish and strive to protect.

Decades of conventional farming practices have done well to feed the increasing population of the world but have depleted soils of nutrients and organic matter. The agronomists in Living Soil explain how regenerative soil management practices can improve soil health as well as benefit air, water, and public health in the process.

Released in November 2018, Living Soil was directed by Chelsea Myers and Tiny Attic Productions based in Columbia, Missouri, and produced by the Soil Health Institute through the generous support of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.

The film is available to stream for free at soilhealthinstitute.org/livingsoil or search for “Living Soil” on YouTube.

Alliance releases report from 2021 Farmed Animal Conference E-Summit

The Animal Agriculture Alliance released a report today detailing observations from the Farmed Animal Conference E-Summit held virtually August 2 – 8. The event was organized and hosted by California-based animal sanctuary Animal Place, which advocates for a vegan lifestyle.

The key claims and takeaways from this virtual event included the following: people within positions of wealth and power need to put both their personal and professional resources toward working on behalf of animals; the animal rights movement allegedly would be decades behind their current status without sharing “graphic” content as promotional tools; activists need to focus on aquaculture and push for federal legislation to protect aquatic species from supposed animal cruelty; and people need to move away from animal products completely.

“An important part of the Alliance’s mission to safeguard the future of animal agriculture is monitoring the activities of animal rights activist organizations,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “It is important for everyone to be aware of just how far activists are willing to go to achieve their goals of ending animal agriculture and moving people - and even pets - to vegan diets. Our conference reports help our members learn more about the strategies and tactics being employed by these organizations so they can take steps to protect their animals, their operations and their livelihoods.”

Activists attending the conference were encouraged to share more animal rights content on social media. Nina Jackel of Lady Freethinker, a non-profit promoting social media animal rights activism, stated “any online activism is good.” Jackel continued by stating she believes that animal rights activists need to continue sharing “graphic” images and videos on social media as she believes “the animal rights movement would be decades behind where we are right now if there weren’t these undercover videos… those images are what get people to pay attention and see that there’s a problem.”

Several sessions called for public acknowledgement of aquatic animals as “sentient beings” and the need to elevate them to the same status as humans and other animals. Mary Finelli, president of Fish Feel, stated, “tragically, fishes comprise by far the largest category of functionally-exploited vertebrate animals. They’re subjected to some of the worst abuse, and they receive the least public concern or legal protection.” Kathy Hessler of the Animal Law Clinic, a partner of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, stated her clinic has been working with Animal Equality and Mercy for Animals to draft a humane aquaculture slaughter bill, claiming that “aquatic animals don’t get even the benefit of the minimal protections offered to these other animals that we raise and kill for food.”

The animal agriculture community as a whole was attacked in multiple sessions throughout the event. Karen Davis, president and founder of United Poultry Concerns, claimed that animals are “individuals and have feelings.” Sean Thomas, international director of investigations at Animal Equality (and former undercover “investigator” for the Humane Society of the United States), claimed that the entire animal agriculture community is full of widespread cruelty. "It’s not just one bad farm. It’s the entire industry model,” he argued. The dairy community was criticized by several speakers including Philip Wollen of Winsome Constance Kindness Trust, a venture capital firm focused on “social justice” issues. “I studied the dairy industry, and I concluded that it is the filthiest, nastiest, most egregious form of cruelty in animal agriculture,” he claimed. His final point was that meat and dairy have “no place in civilized society” because “the animal industrial complex is actually a criminal cartel, and if they had to pay for their externalities, they would go broke.”

Several sessions called for more focus on animal agriculture and climate change. Jane Velez-Mitchell, founder of JaneUnchained News, stated, “by eliminating animal agriculture, we can reforest land and it will begin to absorb carbon and immediately reverse the Earth’s temperature.” Christopher Eubanks, founder of APEX Advocacy, stressed the concept of only having one earth and argued going vegan can help the environment. He added, “consuming animal products is one of the biggest contributors to climate change.” Wollen echoed Eubanks’ statement by claiming “greenhouse gas emissions from livestock now vastly exceed those of transport.”

Pet food was also a focus of the event with Shannon Falconer, CEO of Because, Animals, stating that animal agriculture would not exist without the pet food industry purchasing the “unsellable meat” for human consumption. She further claimed that “[pet food] is a white space that needs to be addressed if we’re going to look at and try to eliminate the factory farming industry as a whole.” She continued by pushing the vegan pet food agenda, claiming that antibiotic use would decrease with plant-based and cell-cultured meat used for pet food instead.

As with most animal rights conferences, speakers demonstrated their real agenda is not about animal care, but rather ending the consumption of meat, poultry, dairy and eggs altogether, as evidenced by several speakers calling for everyone to consume a vegan diet. Wollen claimed that “every morsel of meat we eat is slapping the tear-stained face of a hungry child,” and explained that “we are trying to get people off the meat and dairy drug.” In Jackel’s session, she argued, “the healthiest diet is one that doesn’t have meat.” Plant based and lab-grown alternative proteins were positioned as key to ending animal agriculture, with Arturo Elizondo, CEO, Clara Foods (a company working on ‘creating the world’s first animal-free egg white’), stating “we’re all trying to ultimately create a world where we don’t need animals to eat them.”

The 2021 Farmed Animal Conference E-Summit Report, which includes personal accounts of speaker presentations and general observations, is available to Alliance members in the Resource Center on the Alliance website. The Alliance also has reports from previous animal rights conferences accessible to members on its website.

AGCO Introduces Massey Ferguson VE Series Planters

AGCO Corporation, a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural machinery and precision ag technology, introduces the Massey Ferguson® VE Series planters. This full line of planters — from rigid and folding-frame planters to narrow transport and track planters — offers growers straightforward, dependable, durable planters that deliver consistent, accurate seed placement for optimum yields.

“The VE Series planters continue a long tradition of delivering accurate planting with minimal downtime, wear or required maintenance,” says Arthur Santos, marketing manager for seeding and tillage at AGCO. “These are the latest in the evolution of planting solutions from AGCO, and they feature a redesigned, more durable row unit plus the opportunity to add many Precision Planting® technologies right at the factory. These planters are designed to ensure that growers are planting at the proper depth with the right spacing, singulation and downforce for maximizing yield, no matter the crop.”

Previous planter offerings from White Planters® will be available within the Massey Ferguson VE Series.

The wide range of tool bar choices, widths and planting accessories from White Planters will be available within the Massey Ferguson VE Series, Santos adds. The planter line offers solutions for all growers — from conventional tillage to no-till operations to those who demand the latest technologies that allow for variable-rate, high-speed planting and individual row control. The VE Series is available in a variety of row-unit and spacing combinations, including six, eight, 12, 16, 23, 24 and 36 rows and spacings of 15, 20, 22, 30, 36, 38 and 40 inches.

New row unit enhances accuracy and longevity

Built upon the proven design of White Planters row units, the VE Series Heads Up™ row unit pairs easily with the most advanced Precision Planting tools and technology available today. Several design changes ensure the longevity and performance of the row unit itself and make planter setup and maintenance easier and more convenient.

What is likely to become the most appreciated change to the row unit is the redesign of the seed tube guard mount. Two guards are available: a standard assembly cast of nickel material and an extended-wear guard assembly made of stainless and tungsten, which is recommended for high-speed planting with SpeedTube®.

“With the redesigned mount, farmers can remove or install the guards into fully assembled row units,” Santos says. “It’s no longer necessary to remove the gauge wheels and opener blades to perform maintenance on the guard, so it’s a huge time saver.”

The redesigned shank casting now features an access hole that makes it easier to plumb lines for liquid fertilizer. The hole is ahead of the seed tube, improving overall routing for the lines while also protecting them from the opener disc blades.

Many row-unit components have received the “heavy duty” treatment to further increase the unit’s overall durability. Several castings are thicker, and bushings are larger and more robust. These enhancements improve the service life of the unit and decrease the need for maintenance.

Planter design is geared toward precision

With the combination of White Planters’ legacy of dependable and straightforward design and the latest technologies from Precision Planting, the VE Series assures growers a 99% or greater accuracy in seed placement while managing every row unit individually in real time.

“Many VE Series planter models come from the factory with Precision Planting products — including vSet2® meters, vDrive® electronic drive, DeltaForce® and the 20|20® Gen3 monitor — already installed,” Santos says. “Plug-and-play aftermarket options such as SmartFirmer® seed-firmer sensor, FlowSense® and FurrowForce™ can be added by a Precision Planting dealer on all planters.”

Other options and attachments, including several single- and double-disc fertilizer openers, coulters, residue managers, press wheels and blades, also are available.

The VE Series planters are available with individual 3-bushel row-unit hoppers or a 90-bushel central-fill system. Depending on the model, 300-, 500- and 750-gallon liquid fertilizer tanks are available, as are dry fertilizer and insecticide delivery. For extra-large capacity, the VE Series planter is available in a track version with 150-bushel central-fill capacity and two 750-gallon liquid fertilizer tanks.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Weekend Ag News Round-up - Aug 28

 LENRD board members reaffirm their commitment to locally led conservation

At their August board meeting, the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) board of directors approved a resolution reaffirming their commitment to the management of our natural resources for the future and the importance of local control.

Recent water quality data indicates elevated concentrations of nitrate in portions of the LENRD, reaching levels that could pose health threats to humans and the environment.  It’s during these times when the LENRD board members are put in tough situations.  Mike Sousek, LENRD general manager, said, “This resolution simply reaffirms to the public that we care about the quality or our water and the health of our communities.”

The board also discussed the Scrap Tire Partnership Program with the Loess Hills RC&D and the Papio-Missouri River NRD.  The board instructed the staff to submit a letter of commitment for the program through the Nebraska Environmental Trust.  If awarded, the grant could provide funding for collections for 3 consecutive years.

Staff presented changes to the conservation cost-share docket and the board approved the updates for fiscal year 2022.  Changes to the Community Forestry Program and the Forestry Incentive for Public Facilities Program were also presented.  These updates will simplify the administration of the programs as well as create more flexibility for the participants.

An update was given on the Willow Creek Artesian Pressure Mitigation Project.  The production wells will be installed this fall.  This is the first step in the process of reducing the artesian pressures near the dam.  The board approved the bid with Dietz Well for $95,510 to complete the project.

A presentation was given by JEO and Long Spring Consulting Group’s on the LENRD’s hydrogeologic groundwater model along with the graphic user interface (GUI) which will be the cloud-based tool used by district staff to evaluate proposed uses of groundwater.  Phase 2B of the project is nearing completion and project partners are reviewing the model calibrations.  This phase of the project was facilitated by a grant from the NeDNR Water Sustainability Fund which paid for 60% of the project.  When completed, the groundwater model will allow the district to complete simulations that will help to illustrate the changes to groundwater and surface water systems.  The model also will benefit the district by allowing for the ability to utilize a sophisticated hydrogeologic grid constructed on tight gridlines and integrates the aerial electromagnetic flight data, which is a first of its kind in the United States.  The board reviewed the proposed contract for the GUI web-based program with Long Spring and voted to accept the terms of the agreement.

The board approved a proposal with Hollman Media to improve and update the district’s database.  This will help to improve the system and make it more user-friendly for the staff and the producers.  It will also be a more secure solution for the district’s records.

The board also approved an additional 1% increase in restricted funds authority for fiscal year 2022 and set the budget hearing Thursday, September 9th at 7:00 p.m. at the LENRD office in Norfolk.

To learn more about the 12 responsibilities of Nebraska’s NRDs and how your local district can work with you and your community to protect your natural resources, visit lenrd.org and sign up for our monthly emails.  The next board of directors meeting will be Thursday, September 23rd at the LENRD office in Norfolk at 7:30 p.m. and on Facebook Live.

UNL webinar planned on winter cow care agreements

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Agricultural Profitability will host a webinar that examines the development of winter cow care agreements at noon on Sept. 2.  

Given the current drought conditions in the western and north-central U.S., there has been increased interest by cattle producers to send cows to other locations, such as Nebraska, where winter feed resources like corn residue are available for grazing. This creates a scenario where many people are asking questions about what a fair agreement for wintering cows looks like. The goal of a good agreement is that there are no surprises, all parties are clear on expectations and roles.

The webinar will offer a roundtable discussion with Nebraska Extension experts to help producers avoid disagreements. Participants will be Dave Aiken, an agricultural law and water specialist; Aaron Berger, a beef systems educator; and Mary Drewnoski, a beef systems specialist. It will be moderated by Jessica Groskopf, an agricultural economics educator.

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

For more information, and to register for the webinar, visit the Center for Agricultural Profitability’s website, https://cap.unl.edu.

Fall Armyworms Damaging Alfalfa in Southeast Nebraska

Robert Wright - NE Extension Entomologist
Melissa Bartels - NE Extension Educator

We had two reports of fall armyworms damaging alfalfa in Gage and Otoe counties last week. Fall armyworms have been abundant in states to the south of us recently, including Kansas and Missouri.

In both cases, the armyworms were in their last stage, and a decision was made to treat one of these fields and harvest the other. Caterpillars do most of their feeding in the last stage. If you are not watching fields on a regular basis, you may not notice damage or armyworms until they are large and doing significant damage.

Kansas State University Extension Entomologists state: “One to two worms per square foot can destroy seedling alfalfa, and populations of 10 to 15 per square foot have been observed to destroy 12- to 14-inch alfalfa. Treatment is not advised unless the majority of larvae are less than 3/4 inch long.” Insecticide options they list include products with active ingredients including the pyrethroids, Alpha-cypermethrin, Beta-cyfluthrin, cyfluthrin, Gamma-cyhalothrin, Lambda-cyhalothrin, permethrin and Zeta-cypermethrin, organophosphates, chloropyrifos, and carbamates, carbaryl and methomyl.

See Nebraska Extension Circular 130 for a listing of products and rates. Large caterpillars (3/4 inch long or more) are close to maturity, may have already done most of their feeding and are harder to control with insecticides. Another control option would be to harvest the alfalfa if the crop growth stage is appropriate.

Fall armyworms, Spodoptera frugiperda, are a southern species that does not overwinter in Nebraska. As populations build up during the summer, moths fly north often reaching the Midwest later in the summer or early fall — hence their common name.

A related species, the yellow-striped armyworm, Spodoptera ornithogalli, has been seen in south-central soybeans the last few weeks in low numbers. They can also feed on alfalfa. These larvae look very similar and can be confused. A key character to differentiate these two species is that the fall armyworm has four spots on the top of the last abdominal segment forming a square. The yellow-striped armyworm lacks these spots. There can be a great deal of color variation in both species.

Given the populations of fall armyworms to the south of us, it is likely moths will continue to be present in southern Nebraska for a while. Fall armyworms have a broad host range and can feed on broadleaf and grassy crops. Be sure to get out and monitor newly seeded alfalfa and wheat as seedling plants can be killed rapidly by caterpillars feeding on them.

Extension to ‘Cultivate Opportunities’ for Attendees at 2021 Husker Harvest Days

Ron Seymour - Extension Educator

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) along with Nebraska Extension will be providing an education program to provide Knowledge That Helps Cultivate Opportunities in a number of agricultural topics at the 2021 Husker Harvest Days (HHD) farm show, scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday, Sept. 14-16. The program will be housed in the UNL “Big Red Building” located at lot 827. An agriculture careers program will be located in a large white tent immediately east of the building.

Teams of Nebraska Extension educators and specialists will be sharing their field-proven experiences with new research-based, unbiased information. The wide variety of topics should provide a wealth of information that could lead to more success and wellbeing in the lives of visitors to the UNL Big Red Building.

Topics include:

Agriculture Economics
Farm and ranch economic and financial decisions are important but can be hard to make. Faculty from the UNL Agriculture Economics Center for Agricultural Profitability will provide information to help make good management decisions.

Beef Production
Nebraska has the second-largest number of cattle on feed in the United States, thus is one of the most important agriculture industries in the state. The Beef Systems Team will provide information to help producers manage feed costs and maintain animal performance. This information will help the cattle producer continue to provide a quality animal for the consumer and help maintain a healthy income.

Manure Management
When farmers raise livestock, they will always produce manure. Members of the UNL Animal Manure Management Team will emphasis that using livestock manure to fertilize cropland is nature’s original recycling program, and recycling locally available manure nutrients before importing inorganic fertilizer is the key to protecting the environment. Their goal is to provide farmers with resources and tools to make the most of manure that they may have available.

Cover Crop Production
The use of cover crops has increase significantly in the last several years. Just like the use of manure on crop fields, planting cover crops will increase soil organic matter and improve the ability of the soil to grow a crop. The Cover Crop Team will demonstrate how the small effort made to plant a cover crop will result in a large payback both financially and in land quality improvement.

Water Quality and Quantity Issues
Increasing soil organic matter, boosting water infiltration and reducing loss of soil nitrogen are important issues in protecting the quality of both surface and aquifer held water. The Water Issues Team will provide information on how best to manage soil water and apply irrigation to increase crop production while conserving our natural resources. Participating farmers will better understand the economics of using the practices and learn how to maintain a high quality and plentiful water supply that will reduce some of the uncertainty they face in crop production.

Digital Agriculture and On-farm Research
There have been significant improvements in the equipment that farmers use to produce their crops, including the ability to record yield data. The Digital Agriculture and On-Farm Research Team will highlight how farmers can use this data to guide them on future management decisions. Farmers will learn that on-farm research is not difficult to conduct and the results will help them increase the productivity of their land, resulting in increased profitability.

Crop Pest Management
Pests change in their occurrence and response to control tactics, thus are a continual challenge to manage. The Pest Management Team will highlight the results of research on pesticide products and alternative approaches to pest control. They will also review issues of managing pesticide resistance and how to deal with new and emerging pest problems. This information will give people a better understanding of the pests they find in and around their fields and homes, and how to manage them.

Tree Culture
Nebraskans place a high value on trees. Trees bring a significant value to farms and landscapes by blocking the wind, reducing soil erosion and providing habitat for wildlife. Sometimes it can be a challenge to maintain trees in a grassland state such as Nebraska. Thus, the Community Environment Team will be providing information that will help farmers and home residents select the right trees for their situation and maintain their health.

Farm Family Wellbeing
Maintaining a healthy wellbeing is also very important for humans. Stress can happen to all people and it is important to understand that normal to feel overwhelmed, particularly during tough times. The Healthy Lifestyles and Wellness Team will be providing information to help people learn to maintain their wellbeing and be able to recognize when family and friends may need assistance. Learning these skills will help keep families and communities together.

Agricultural Leadership
Communities need people to provide leadership to continue to prosper. The administrator of the Nebraska LEAD program will be sharing information about how they can help develop the skills people need to help lead rural communities. LEAD program participants become exposed to diverse societal and business thinking, develop a respect for agriculture’s history and heritage and learn to investigate and listen to all sides of an issue. The skills learned help participants to maintain the “good life” in their communities.

Agricultural Careers
Young people also need training to be able to establish a career and contribute to their communities. The UNL exhibit will feature an Agriculture Careers Zone adjacent to the “Big Red Building”. The Career Zone Team includes representatives from the Nebraska 4-H College and Careers Readiness Team, the UNL College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Admissions office and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture Admissions office. The representatives will provide information on agricultural careers, preparation for post high school training and career success markers. This information will help youth develop career paths that can bring them back to live and help our rural communities thrive.

In addition to all of the program information that is being provided, IANR faculty will be available to answer crop and animal production questions. They will also be available to look at plant and insect samples the visitors might bring along. We all look forward to seeing and visiting with all HHD participants.


Non-irrigated cropland cash rent averaged $233.00 per acre in Iowa during 2021, an increase of $3.00 from 2020 according to the latest report released by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Pasture rented for cash averaged $58.00 per acre, up $4.00 from 2020.

Grundy County had the highest cash rent for non-irrigated cropland, at $276.00 per acre, followed by Butler County at $264.00 per acre. Cedar, Scott, and Ida rounded out the top five. Lucas County, at $148.00 per acre, had the lowest average cash rent for non-irrigated cropland.

Other Iowa Counties of Interest

($/acre - change from '20)

Plymouth - 257 +2
Woodbury - 248 -8
Manona - 225 +3
Harrison - 224 +11
Pottawattamie - 233 +14
Crawford - 250+4
Shelby - 225-5

Pottawattamie and Sioux Counties tied for the highest published pasture cash rent, at $88.00 per acre, followed by Plymouth at $75.50 per acre. Appanoose County had the lowest pasture cash rent, at $31.50 per acre.

U.S. Agricultural Exports in Fiscal Year 2022 Forecast Up $4.0 Billion to a Record $177.5 Billion; Imports at $159.5 Billion

U.S. agricultural exports in fiscal year (FY) 2022 are projected at $177.5 billion, $4.0 billion higher than the revised forecast for the preceding year. The FY 2021 export forecast of $173.5 billion represents an increase of $9.5 billion from May’s projection, mainly due to higher livestock, poultry, and dairy exports, as well as the adoption of a new definition of “Agricultural Products.” Beginning with this publication, the August 2021 release, the report is adopting the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) definition of “Agricultural Products,” which adds ethanol, distilled spirits, and manufactured tobacco products, among others, while removing rubber and allied products from the previous USDA definition. The net effect of the definitional change on historical values is that U.S. agricultural exports under the new definition averaged $4.7 billion higher per year during FY 2018–2020 from the previous definition, and U.S. agricultural imports averaged $9.9 billion higher annually during the same period. For details on the transition to the new definition, please see Appendix A: Updated Agricultural Products Definition. 2 Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade, AES-117, August 26, 2021 USDA, Economic Research Service and Foreign Agricultural Service

The FY 2022 forecast value increase is primarily driven by higher export values for soybeans, cotton, and horticultural products. Soybean exports are projected to increase by $3.3 billion from FY 2021 to a record $32.3 billion on higher prices, which more than offset lower projected volumes. Cotton exports are forecast up $500 million to $6.8 billion on higher unit values. Horticultural product exports are forecast up $600 million to a record $37.7 billion, led by higher exports of tree nuts. Livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are forecast up $400 million to $36.8 billion in FY 2022, primarily due to growth in dairy and poultry products. Grain and feed exports are forecast down $1.1 billion from prior forecast levels, primarily due to lower corn export prospects. Agricultural exports to China are forecast at $39.0 billion—an increase of $2.0 billion from FY 2021—largely due to higher expected soybean prices and strong cotton and sorghum demand. Agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico are forecast at $23.8 billion and $22.3 billion, respectively.

U.S. agricultural imports in FY 2022 are forecast at $159.5 billion, $2.0 billion higher than the revised FY 2021 due to higher imports of livestock and beef products, oilseeds and products, and horticulture products. FY 2021 imports are forecast at $157.5 billion, up $15.7 billion from the previous forecast, primarily resulting from the inclusion of distilled spirits and other products in the new “Agricultural Products” definition. Record-level import values in the third quarter of FY 2021 largely due to pent-up demand from the pandemic shutdowns of entertainment and service industries, which was released driving up purchases and prices of wine, beer, fruits and vegetables, and other horticultural products, at least in the short term.

Effective January 1, 2021, the separation of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union-27 (EU27) was complete, including trade between both entities. Starting with this August 2021 release, the Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade is reporting on EU27 and the UK separately, rather than a joint EU27+UK in previous quarters.

The forecasts in this report are based on policies in effect at the time of the August 12, 2021, World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) release and the U.S. production forecasts thereof.

Statement from Secretary Vilsack on USDA Quarterly Trade Forecast

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s quarterly trade forecast released yesterday shows that U.S. agricultural exports not only continue at a record-setting pace for fiscal year 2021, but that they will eclipse the 2021 total in fiscal year 2022. The August forecast is USDA’s first look at expected exports for FY 2022.

“As we work to build back better, exports remain a vital engine spurring growth in the U.S. economy. America’s farmers, ranchers and processors are the world’s best and global demand for their products is a testament to their quality, safety and commitment to sustainability and has led to a projected new record in U.S. agricultural exports,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The FY 2021 forecast of $173.5 billion is $33.8 billion, or 24 percent, higher than the FY 2020 final total and nearly $17 billion above the previous record set in FY 2014. Factors underpinning the increase include record volume and value of corn exports, record volume of soybean exports, strong demand from China, and reduced foreign competition.

Looking ahead to FY 2022, U.S. farm and food exports are projected at a record $177.5 billion, topping 2021’s forecasted level by $4 billion. This increase is primarily driven by expected record exports of soybeans, horticultural products, dairy products and sorghum. Exports to China are forecast at a record $39 billion due to higher soybean prices and strong demand for sorghum and cotton. China is expected to remain the United States’ largest export market, followed by Canada and Mexico.

“Simply put, agricultural trade is all about opportunities – for our agricultural producers, our rural communities and the American economy as a whole, as well as for the global customers who value quality, cost-competitive U.S. farm and food products,” Vilsack said. “Each $1 billion in U.S. agricultural exports stimulates another $1.14 billion in domestic economic activity and supports more than 7,700 full-time civilian jobs throughout the U.S. economy. That means that more than 1.3 million jobs, not just on the farm but in related industries such as food processing and transportation.”

NOTE: Beginning with this forecast, USDA is adopting the World Trade Organization’s definition of “Agricultural Products,” which adds ethanol, distilled spirits and manufactured tobacco products, among others, while removing rubber and allied products from the previous USDA definition. All numbers above have been adjusted to reflect the new definition.

USDA Announces Foreign Animal Disease Protection Zone

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced they are preparing to establish a foreign animal disease protection zone in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. African swine fever (ASF) has not been detected in these countries, but out of an abundance of caution, APHIS is taking this step to further safeguard the U.S. swine herd and protect the interests of pork producers.
“Prevention efforts are already in place in Puerto Rico, but formal designation from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) allows USDA to seek zone recognition from trading partners prior to an outbreak, so the U.S. may continue to export pork if ASF is detected in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands,” says Dr. Patrick Webb, Acting Chief Veterinarian for the National Pork Board (NPB) in a statement. “The NPB is making Checkoff-funded resources available in Spanish for USDA to leverage for its outreach in Puerto Rico.”

Second ASF Vaccine Candidate Developed  

Researchers from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service have developed a second experimental vaccine candidate that could offer protection against ASF. According to Lisa Becton, Swine Health Director for NPB, the identification of a new candidate is promising. However, it will take time and additional research before a commercial ASF vaccine is available in the U.S.
NPB uses Checkoff funds to address gaps in vaccine knowledge and actively collaborates with other organizations to maximize efforts for ASF prevention and preparedness.

USDA to send 2021 Hemp Acreage and Production survey this fall

This October, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will mail its first Hemp Acreage and Production Survey. The survey will collect information on the total planted and harvested area, yield, production, and value of hemp in the United States.

The Domestic Hemp Production Program established in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) allows for the cultivation of hemp under certain conditions. The Hemp Acreage and Production survey will provide needed data about the hemp industry to assist producers, regulatory agencies, state governments, processors, and other key industry entities.

Producers will be able to complete the survey online or they may complete and return the survey by mail using the return envelope that will be provided.

It’s Here: Farm Progress Show 2021 Kicks Off Next Week

Farmers, exhibitors and show presenters alike are ready to mix, mingle, and check out the latest in farm technology when the Farm Progress Show reconvenes in Decatur, Ill., next week.

With hundreds of exhibitors, this year’s show will give farmers the opportunity to engage with the latest in ag products, equipment and ideas, as well as the people who design and develop them. It’s been two years since the last in-person Farm Progress Show – which means there’s a lot to get caught up on.                        

Here are SIX must-sees for FPS21:

Ag Tech Innovations: At the 2021 Farm Progress Show there will be hundreds of new product innovations on display. From the hardware of new equipment to the software of new crop protection, there will be 2-years of product development for you to experience first-hand.

Corn Harvesting Demos: Each day, equipment manufacturers will showcase the latest in harvest technology. Combines, headers and grain carts will all be on display and showing off in the Show Demo Fields. The demonstrations will start each day at 11 a.m. and last until the day’s acres are worked.

Concert from Country Music Star Lee Brice, presented by Case IH and co-sponsored by Farm Progress: On Wednesday, Sept. 1 at 5:30 p.m., Brice will hold a concert and debut his new song, “Farmer,” for show attendees, exhibitors and sponsors. General admission tickets to the Farm Progress Show for that day will include entry to the concert.

A Live Barn Raising: Throughout FPS21, FBi Buildings will be showcasing the innovative Qlyft system by raising and lowering a pole barn. The Qlyft system uses hydraulic cylinders, I-beams, scissor-lift technology, and safety nets to allow the crew to assemble a complete roof, build and attach wall frames, and set the building in place – all in about 15 minutes.

Autonomous Showcase: Each day from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Raven will display the OMNiDRIVE™, which allows for the automated pulling of the grain cart to unload the combine on the go. There will also be a showcase of the OMNiPOWER™, a self-propelled power platform designed to easily interchange farm implements such as a sprayer or spreader to operate in the field, driver-free.

ADM Stage: Each day on the ADM Stage, attendees can catch must-see seminars, speakers and visits from special guests. This year’s events include a Farm Futures market update, a live taping of The Noon Show and a discussion from Ag Safety Day on ATV and tractor safety.

Don’t miss hearing directly from high-level elected officials during “The Noon Show” on Tuesday and Wednesday on the ADM Stage. Also on Tuesday, from 2:00-3:00 there will be a special session where governmental representatives will deliver insight from the House Ag Committee, Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management.

And don’t forget the daily demonstrations:
    Steve Lanvit Horse Training
    North America Diving Dogs
    Ride ‘n’ Drive opportunities
    And much more!

Check out the detailed show schedule for info on specific times.

In-person farm shows are back – and Farm Progress Show 2021 is the perfect place to start.


Delegates to the U.S. Swine Health Improvement Plan (USSHIP) initiative, a pilot project to develop and implement an African swine fever (ASF)-Classical swine fever (CSF) monitored certification program, met this week to discuss developing program standards. They approved resolutions related to animal traceability, risks of disease transmission through feed, biosecurity and sanitizing standards for pork industry infrastructure, such as trucks, trailers and facilities.

USSHIP, which is funded by USDA’s Veterinary Services, is directed by swine veterinarians from Iowa State University, South Dakota State University, the University of Illinois and the University of Minnesota. Its goal is to safeguard, certify and improve the health of the U.S. swine herd and enhance the longer-term competitiveness and sustainability of the U.S. pork industry.

Young Cattle Producers Needed for 2022 Convention Internships

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is offering college students a unique behind-the-scenes experience through its annual convention internship program. The 2022 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show, the largest annual meeting of the U.S. beef cattle industry, will take place Feb. 1-3, 2022, in Houston.

Up to 18 interns will be selected and will be responsible for setting up the indoor arena, assisting at committee meetings and Cattlemen’s College, posting on social media and contributing in the NCBA booth. NCBA will strive to provide students time to maximize industry networking.

Student interns must be able to work Jan. 29-Feb. 5, 2022, provide their own transportation to Houston, and be at least a junior-level college student at an accredited university at the time of the event. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA, should be well-versed in all areas of social media and preferably have a background in, or working knowledge of, the cattle and/or beef industry.

This one-of-a-kind opportunity offers college students the ability to network with industry stakeholders throughout the beef industry and gain valuable experience. Students will also receive a one-year NCBA student membership.

Interested students must complete an online Student Internship Application and submit college transcripts, two letters of recommendation and a resume. The application deadline is Oct. 16, 2021. For more information, contact Grace Webb at gwebb@beef.org.

Coglio awarded USDA grant to develop tool to estimate insect pathogen risk

Caterina Scoglio, professor in the Mike Wiegers Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Kansas State University, has received a U.S. Department of Agriculture — Research Education and Economics grant to develop a computer tool used to estimate the risk for arthropod-transmitted pathogens.

Scoglio, who holds the Paslay professorship in electrical and computer engineering and is a Steve Hsu Keystone research scholar, will lead the more than $275,000 four-year project, conducting research on "Predicting Insect Contact and Transmission Using Historical Epidemiological Data."

Researchers will collect data, develop algorithms and design a computer tool that provides predictive models that estimate arthropod-borne pathogen transmission risk in locations using environmental and dynamic real-time data, all with the goal of optimizing resources.

"Estimating pathogen transmission risk will reduce waste of limited shelf-life products and the movement of resources between locations," Scoglio said. "Planners will use this tool to evaluate mosquito-borne virus risk of a geographic location at specific times or durations of time. Users can also monitor conditions at specific locations to decide when and which products to reorder."

The platform will classify landscapes into three levels of transmission current risk — high, medium and low — and will feature a forecasting tool.

This project is closely related to major research goals in the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering for the areas of infectious diseases and health.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Thursday August 26 Ag News

 NPPC Applauds USDA for Pre-Emptive Designation of Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands as ASF Protection Zone

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced its intent to designate Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as a “protection zone,” a World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) designation that allows the United States to maintain its current animal health status should there be a detection of African swine fever (ASF) or other foreign animal disease on the island territories. The USDA will work to gain OIE acceptance of this designation to maintain U.S. pork export continuity should Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands have an animal test positive for African swine fever in the future. The United States, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, remain free of African swine fever, a swine-only disease with no human health implications. There is no commercial pork trade from Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands to the United States mainland.

“We thank Secretary Vilsack for taking this pre-emptive step to preserve the continuity of U.S. pork exports as we continue to work together to prevent the spread of African swine fever to the United States,” said Jen Sorenson, president of the National Pork Producers Council. “We have significantly bolstered U.S. biosecurity defense against ASF since it began spreading in the Asia-Pacific region nearly three years ago and must re-double our efforts given the recent outbreak in the Dominican Republic.”

The USDA announced confirmed cases of ASF in the Dominican Republic (DR) on July 28, 2021. The cases were confirmed as part of an ongoing cooperative surveillance program between the United States and the DR. The United States imports no pork, animal feed or other pork production-related products from the DR. The USDA, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), NPPC and other industry organizations are working together to contain the first outbreak of ASF in the Western hemisphere in approximately 40 years to the DR. These measures include:
    Aid to the DR - The USDA is providing continued testing support to the DR, setting up laboratory equipment and training laboratory personnel, providing personal protective equipment, and offering ongoing assistance on response and mitigation measures. In addition, surveillance and testing aid have been offered to Haiti, as it borders the DR and is at a significant risk for contracting ASF.
    Haiti Risk Mitigation - NPPC has reached out to the U.S. Department of State to ensure appropriate ASF-prevention protocols are followed by U.S. earthquake relief workers travelling to and from Haiti (e.g. making bleach solutions available to disinfect shoes). The State Department, USDA and USAID are collaborating in this effort.
    Enhanced mitigation efforts in Puerto Rico (PR) - CBP and USDA have taken a number of steps to guard against the spread of ASF to PR, including support for the U.S. Coast Guard to intercept illegal boat traffic from the DR and Haiti to Puerto Rico. They have also prioritized depopulation of urban feral pigs in PR over the next 12-18 months and are establishing a surveillance lab in PR.
    Collaboration with Mexico and Canada - The United States is working with Mexico and Canada to bolster ASF prevention efforts across North America. For example, Mexico has tightened inspection at land and sea ports since the DR outbreak. It has also taken appropriate measures to mitigate the risk presented by migrant workers moving between Mexico and the DR. In addition, NPPC represents U.S. producers on the North American Swine Health Working Group, which was formed by the chief veterinary officers of Mexico, Canada and the United States. The focus of the group has been biosecurity of the North American continent, laboratory harmonization and developing criteria for recognition of regionalization.

NPPC noted the following measures for U.S. pork producers to take to prevent ASF:
    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 DR 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 www.nppc.org/asf.

Grower Groups Disappointed Neonicotinoid Draft Biological Evaluation Does Not Reflect Actual Product Use

Grower organizations representing a variety of crops are disappointed with the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft biological evaluation (BE) for several neonicotinoid products, including imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin. The groups representing farmers across the country say that failure to consider real-world usage data in the analysis conducted as part of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) could limit growers’ ability to protect their crops and livelihoods and not assure endangered species are any safer.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Cotton Council and Minor Crop Farmer Alliance say ESA analyses are, by law, required to “use the best scientific and commercial data available” to ensure endangered species and their habitats will not be adversely affected by an agency’s action. The groups point out the draft BE does not use the “best available data” and cite multiple examples of assumptions made in the EPA assessment that do not align with growers’ real use of neonicotinoid products:

• The draft BE assumes U.S. soybean farmers apply imidacloprid at 0.50 pounds per acre, the annual maximum rate allowed by law. However, USDA Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) data indicates that, in 2018, soybean growers applied an annual average of only 0.054 pounds per acre – less than one-ninth the draft BE’s assumed rate.

• The draft BE assumes U.S. cotton farmers apply the annual maximum of 0.125 lb/acre of thiamethoxam. However, 2010-2014 market research data used by EPA to conduct its thiamethoxam benefits review shows that cotton farmers actually use an annual average of 0.037 pounds per acre – less than one-third the draft BE’s assumed rate.

• The draft BE assumes U.S. soybean farmers make extensive foliar spray applications of neonicotinoids. However, USDA declined to release the breakdown for foliar applications compared with lower-risk seed treatments in its ARMS survey: In 2018, there were fewer than five total foliar applications of all three chemistries reported nationally, which fails to meet the threshold to allow for survey data release.

Kevin Scott, soybean farmer from South Dakota and president of the American Soybean Association, says the draft BE compares proverbial apples to oranges: “USDA survey and commercial use data are available and show how growers actually use these tools, but the draft BE instead includes application rates, numbers, types, and reapplication timing for these neonicotinoid products that are remarkably inconsistent with the actual, available data. These erroneous assumptions could have real, negative consequences for farmers and other end users if they are used for the final ESA analysis.”

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said, “We are disappointed that the Environmental Protection Agency failed to use the most accurate data in the draft biological evaluation. Farmers are judicious in their use of pesticides. EPA overstates the quantities used and therefore overestimates the impact on species. The Environmental Protection Agency should always utilize the most accurate data, especially when making decisions that could affect farmers’ access to important crop protection tools.”

Stephen Logan, a Louisiana cotton producer who serves as chairman of the National Cotton Council's Environmental Task Force, said, “EPA’s current ESA compliance process is more like a 'what-if' scenario rather than use of best science and data. It’s a legislative conflict that no longer questions whether EPA will be sued but how soon EPA will be sued. EPA’s current compliance process seems to suggest that science and data are being dismissed due to frustration over continuous lawsuits. Meanwhile, farmers—not big companies—are the ones being economically affected. We have to rely on fewer options that often are more expensive and less effective.”

EPA’s overly cautious assumptions have led to significant inflation in the number of species receiving a “likely to adversely affect” designation. This could result in greater and unnecessary restrictions for products, which will do nothing to help species and only impede use of tools farmers rely on to sustainably grow a healthy and nutritious product.

Farmers are using new technology and practices every day to better manage their fields and protect wildlife. For example, farmers regularly use neonicotinoids and other crop protection tools as seed treatments, which can reduce soil surface exposure area by more than 99% compared with surface treatments—thus reducing risks to wildlife. Growers also seek participation in conservation programs and alliances such as the BeSure! Program and the Monarch Collaborative that aim to 1. improve policy 2. spread awareness of best-use stewardship practices for protecting species health and managing responsible product use.

The grower groups will continue to review the draft BE and participate in the public comment period to encourage use of best available scientific and commercial data in the final BE.

ICA Stresses Need for Custom Cattle Feeder Assistance

Yesterday, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding the lack of pandemic relief for custom cattle feeders.

The additional assistance announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in January 2021 excluded custom cattle feeders. Several custom cattle feeders in Iowa contacted the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association requesting help due to significant revenue loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to mitigate this shortfall in assistance, we worked with Iowa’s congressional delegation to send a bicameral letter to Sec. Vilsack in February 2021.

Since that time, USDA has modified and extended the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) 2 more than once. Most recently, the deadline to apply for or modify an existing application was extended to October 12, 2021. However, this does not apply to custom cattle feeders.

Six months have passed since the letter was sent by our elected officials, yet no solution has been offered. While swine and poultry contract growers are eligible to receive aid, custom cattle feeders remain unassisted.

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association calls on Sec. Vilsack to include custom cattle feeders as part of any upcoming assistance plans.

Latest Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index ® shows Iowa grocery shoppers swayed by the nutrition of real meat and sustainability progress

Nearly all Iowa grocery shoppers report their households consume real meat, poultry and dairy foods regularly; they see those foods as healthy; and many are likely to eat even more after learning the unique nutritional characteristics of those foods, according to the latest Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index®. The index also shows that virtually all Iowa grocery shoppers trust Iowa farmers, and they’re confident that farmers overall are implementing sustainable practices.

The annual survey, now in its 8th year, was conducted online by The Harris Poll in the summer of 2021. The Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index® asked 500 Iowans, ages 20 to 60 with primary or shared household grocery shopping responsibilities, about their purchasing habits and attitudes.

Iowans recognize the nutrition of real meat
The survey finds 97% of Iowa households eat meat and/or dairy at least weekly, and nearly 9 in 10 Iowa grocery shoppers consider milk (89%) and meat (88%) from animals to be healthy options when considering foods and beverages in an average diet.

“While you can get protein from plant sources, animal-based proteins are unique because they are complete proteins. They provide all of the essential amino acids our bodies need. Meat and dairy are also excellent sources of nutrients like zinc needed for growth and immunity,” says Ruth Litchfield,  professor emeritus of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University.

Those nutritional attributes, and others, appear to resonate with Iowa grocery shoppers, according to the survey. After learning the weight loss and muscle tone benefits of a high protein diet, and that dietitians’ say the “highest quality” protein comes from real meat, eggs and dairy, 70% of Iowa grocery shoppers say they are likely to eat more of those foods. Additionally, 73% say they’re likely to increase their consumption of these foods after learning that they’re natural sources of Vitamin B12 (which helps with nervous system function, brain development in children, and is rarely found in plant foods). And 72% say they’re likely to eat more meat and poultry after learning that those foods provide the majority of zinc (which helps our immune systems function properly) in Americans’ diets.    

Learning about farming’s sustainability spurs confidence
Iowa grocery shoppers give farmers high marks for their efforts to protect the environment, with 84% saying that they’re confident Iowa farmers are caring for the environment responsibly and 78% saying they’re confident that Iowa farmers are taking on the challenge of improving water quality.

And, after learning that U.S. agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions per unit of food, fiber and energy produced has declined by approximately 24% since 1990, 75% express confidence that farmers are implementing sustainable practices.

“Sustainability is more than a buzzword for farmers. It’s at the heart of what we do. Continuous improvement in protecting the land and water is what will allow our farms and local communities to thrive for generations to come, and farmers are constantly working toward that. I’m really glad to see that Iowa grocery shoppers notice and have confidence in those efforts,” says Craig Hill, president of the Iowa Farm Bureau.

Iowans say farmers are trustworthy
Iowans’ positive feelings toward farmers extend beyond their environmental efforts. When asked, 94% of Iowa grocery shoppers say they trust Iowa farmers. And 88% say they’re confident that Iowa farmers are caring for their animals responsibly.

“As farmers, we’re responsible for providing Iowans and people around the world with their food, while caring for our animals and the environment. That’s an awesome responsibility, and it’s one that we take very seriously,” says Hill. “We’re honored to know that Iowans trust the work we’re doing, and we’re committed to building that trust through continuous improvement.”

Next Generation Fuels Act Provides Key Piece of the Clean Energy Solution

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) today welcomed the reintroduction of The Next Generation Fuels Act (H.R. 5089), legislation to transition gasoline and vehicles to low-carbon, higher octane fuel to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and meet future needs of more advanced vehicles by taking advantage of the benefits of higher ethanol blends. The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill).

“Ethanol is uniquely positioned to immediately and affordably decarbonize transportation, including through paving the way to future vehicles with greater fuel efficiency and fewer emissions,” said NCGA President John Linder. “The Renewable Fuel Standard was a game-changer for corn farmers, and the Next Generation Fuels Act builds on that success in advancing our commitment to providing the cleanest, most efficient and lowest cost energy solution.”

The bill would require that automakers phase in higher levels of clean, low-carbon octane by model year 2031. The higher the octane, the more efficiently the engine uses energy. As a clean octane standard, the bill requires that sources of additional octane result in at least 40% fewer GHG emissions than unblended gasoline and sets new limits on toxic hydrocarbon aromatics. These requirements will reduce GHG and tailpipe emissions to build on the progress already made to lower emissions with cleaner renewable fuels. Through advanced engine design features that take advantage of this new fuel, automakers will be able to significantly improve vehicle fuel efficiency.

“Today’s ethanol results in nearly 50% fewer GHG emissions than gasoline, and ongoing improvements in farming practices and carbon capture technology can bring ethanol to net-zero emissions,” said Linder. “Corn growers support market-based clean fuel policies that incentivize low-carbon fuels, and the Next Generation Fuels Act would complement these policies, advancing greater decarbonization per gallon.”

Corn ethanol is an effective, low-carbon octane source, providing the greatest fuel efficiency gains at the least cost to drivers while displacing the most toxic components of gasoline. Higher octane levels and vehicles designed and warranted for these fuels would support ethanol blends up to 30%, which would decrease GHG emissions and improve air quality by replacing harmful hydrocarbon aromatics.

NCGA expressed appreciation for the members of Congress who joined Rep. Bustos as original co-sponsors of the bill, including Representatives Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), Jason Smith (R-Mo.), James Comer (R-Ky.), Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) and Cynthia Axne (D-Iowa).

“Congresswoman Bustos has been a real champion for the benefits of low-carbon ethanol and for agriculture,” Linder said. “NCGA is thankful for the Congresswoman’s leadership in advancing renewable fuels by reintroducing this legislation. Corn growers look forward to working with her to build support for clean energy policies that take greater advantage of ethanol’s benefits.”

More information on the benefits of low-carbon, high-octane fuels and NCGA’s support for a low-carbon octane standard can be found at ncga.com/octane.

Next Generation Fuels Act Introduced in the House of Representatives

Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos introduced the Next Generation Fuel Act, which increases gasoline octane to a minimum standard through low-carbon, renewable fuels. Farmers and consumers stand to gain from the economic and environmental benefits brought about by this legislation.

National Farmers Union has long supported higher level blends of ethanol and welcomed Representative Cheri Bustos’ re-introduction of the legislation. Given the environmental and economic advantages, NFU president Rob Larew echoes previous statements, saying:

“There are many benefits to adopting low-carbon, high octane ethanol blends. Higher ethanol levels increase engine and vehicle efficiency, providing greater GHG emission reductions, as well as reducing emissions of criteria pollutants and air toxics such as benzene, toluene, and xylene. Several studies show the many benefits of high octane, low carbon fuels, such as E30.

“National Farmers Union is thankful to Representative Bustos for reintroducing the Next Generation Fuels Act and urges Congress to act on this important legislation to facilitate more extensive use of mid- and high-level ethanol blends.”

RFA Welcomes ‘Innovative’ Next Generation Fuels Act

The Renewable Fuels Association today thanked Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and a bipartisan group of co-sponsors for introducing the Next Generation Fuels Act of 2021. The bill establishes a high-octane, low-carbon fuel standard that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enable greater engine efficiency, encourage competition, and lower pump prices. In addition, the legislation addresses regulatory impediments that have slowed the commercialization of these fuels and the vehicles that consume them.

“We commend Congresswoman Bustos and the co-sponsors of the Next Generation Fuels Act for laying out an innovative roadmap to more efficient, more affordable, lower-carbon fuels,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “Waiting and hoping for massive growth in battery electric vehicle sales and a greener electricity grid is not the way to address today’s energy security, air quality, and climate concerns. We need real solutions right here, right now. This legislation would ensure cleaner, greener liquid fuels are available in the near term to reduce carbon emissions, improve fuel efficiency and protect human health.”

Cooper noted that low-carbon liquid fuels like ethanol will be an essential part of the strategy to reach net-zero GHG emissions by mid-century. He added that in a recent letter to President Biden, RFA’s member companies committed to achieving a net-zero carbon footprint for ethanol by 2050 or sooner.

Specifically, the Bustos bill would establish high-octane (95 and 98 RON) certification test fuels containing 20-30 percent ethanol, while requiring automobile manufacturers to design and warrant their vehicles for the use of these fuels beginning with model year 2026. The bill also includes a low-carbon requirement, specifying that the source of the octane boost must reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by an average of at least 40% compared to a 2021 gasoline baseline, as measured by the Department of Energy’s GREET model. The legislation also includes a restriction on the aromatics content of gasoline, ensures parity in the regulation of gasoline volatility (Reid vapor pressure), corrects key variables used in fuel economy testing and compliance, requires an update to the EPA’s MOVES model, ensures infrastructure compatibility, and addresses many other regulations impeding the deployment of higher octane blends at the retail level.

Original co-sponsors of the bill are Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO), Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA), Rep. James Comer (R-KY), and Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL).

Growth Energy Urges Passage of Bustos, Comer Bill on High-Octane, Low-Carbon Fuels

Growth Energy today praised the introduction of legislation by U.S. Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and Congressman James Comer (R-Ky.) that would unleash access to higher-octane, lower-emission fuels for American drivers.

“The Next Generation Fuels Act represents a clear roadmap for turbo-charging our progress against climate change while offering drivers cleaner, more affordable options at the pump,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “With a natural octane of 113, ethanol is the only high-performance, homegrown, renewable fuel ready to immediately loosen the hold that OPEC and its allies in Russia have over U.S. fuel prices, while slashing the use of toxic fuel additives that poison our air. We applaud Reps. Bustos and Comer for working to promote the use of high-octane, low carbon higher biofuel blends that hold enormous potential for rural America’s role in clean energy production.  
“This important legislation also directly addresses a recent court decision that threatens to stall the growth of higher biofuel blends like E15, a fuel blended with 15 percent ethanol. Now more than ever, it’s vital that Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration move quickly to restore certainty for the rural producers and farmers working to deliver clean, affordable, renewable energy to American drivers,” added Skor.
Building on a previous proposal, the Next Generation Fuels Act of 2021 requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create a new 95 Research Octane Number (RON) standard that would rise to 98 RON after 2031. The legislation would also limit reliance on toxic, aromatic hydrocarbons, require a 40 percent reduction in the carbon intensity of octane-boosting additives, and update fuel and infrastructure regulations to expand the availability of ethanol blends up to E40. In addition, the bill extends incentives for Flex Fuel vehicles and requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make long-overdue updates to obsolete models that undercount the contributions of U.S. biofuels to clean air and a healthy climate.

USGC Highlights Benefits Of Higher Ethanol Blends In Latin America

The United States has continued to share its experience with E15 usage with other nations as they move toward higher blend options. For Latin America, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) continues to encourage increased ethanol blend levels by emphasizing environmental, octane enhancement and cost-reduction benefits.

“E15 is a viable opportunity for Latin American countries to increase ethanol use, as there are already blend mandates in nine countries,” Carlos Suarez, USGC Latin America regional ethanol consultant, said. “The Council has been working with government officials and domestic industry to maintain and deepen product penetration in the four current markets - Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Jamaica - and to develop new markets in priority countries such as Ecuador, Chile and the Dominican Republic.”

On Aug. 18, the Council’s Latin America office hosted Evolution Toward E15, a program to help inform policy makers and industry representatives across Latin America of the benefits of transitioning to higher blend levels.

Nearly 60 attendees from 14 countries - Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, the United States and Uruguay - were present for the webinar facilitated by Suarez and Juan Sebastian Diaz, also a Council Latin American regional ethanol consultant.

“The program was a great opportunity to facilitate technical information to government officials and the industry in the region about the feasibility of implementing blend policies higher than 10 percent and to showcase the U.S. industry experience with ethanol,” Diaz said. “We consider the event as an opportunity to initiate discussion and cooperate with our trade partners to adopt higher ethanol blends.”

Mike Lorenz, senior vice president for market development at Growth Energy, provided the audience with background on the E15 adoption process in the U.S., while also reviewing the necessary technical aspects and benefits of the higher blend level.

“Ninety-eight percent of the gasoline in the U.S. is E10. If we went to 100 percent or 98 percent E15, the greenhouse gas emissions reduction would be equivalent to taking almost 4 million vehicles off the road,” Lorenz said.

One Bolivian attendee - Cristobal Roda, Aguai Sugar Mill operations manager – praised the Council for the timely information presented since Bolivia is considering raising its current blend rate.

“This event was well suited for the current situation in Bolivia as they are undergoing conversations with local authorities to raise the blend from E8 to E15 in the next six months,” he said. “All the technicalities raised in the webinar are similar concerns to the ones being raised by the local authorities. The explanations we heard at the webinar will definitely shed some light to the Bolivian ethanol industry for the upcoming negotiations with the national government.”

Through programming like Evolution Toward E15, the Council remains committed to providing discussion and cooperation opportunities with Latin American trade partners as they look to adopt higher ethanol blends.

“This program will serve to trigger strategic and working engagements with interested local partners to structure and execute new programs that will create new opportunities for ethanol in the region,” Diaz said.

Massey Ferguson Matches Growers’ Ambitions with 8S Tractor

AGCO Corporation (NYSE: AGCO), a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural machinery and precision ag technology, announces a new era of farmer-focused technology and straightforward dependability with the North American availability of the Massey Ferguson® 8S tractor.

The uniquely designed 8S, available in 205 to 265 HP, will debut at the 2021 Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois, Aug. 31-Sept. 2, and is available for order through Massey Ferguson dealerships for delivery in early 2022.

The exciting new MF 8S Series begins a new era for the storied tractor brand. Massey Ferguson began the 8S project with a blank page and built a complete farming solution based on an in-depth “Voice of the Customer” study, which included one-on-one interviews with operators around the globe.

“Massey Ferguson designed this line of tractors to be straightforward and dependable using direct input from farmers,” Darren Parker, vice president of Massey Ferguson North America, said. “With a spacious cab, less noise and vibration, and better visibility, Massey Ferguson sets up growers for a comfortable yet productive season with less downtime.”

The 8S features Massey Ferguson’s exclusive Protect-U™ design, creating a 9.4-inch gap between the engine and the cab. This unique feature protects the operator while giving tremendous front visibility and comfort.

“In addition to comfort, 8S provides operator-improved visibility and intuitive controls, so our customers can focus on the task at hand,” Parker said. “The 8S also offers peace of mind that everyone helping on the farm can operate the tractor confidently and effectively.”

Designed for comfort
The exclusive MF Protect-U engine and cab installation design provides visibility, comfort, efficiency and ultimate protection for 8S operators. The distinctive 9.4-inch space between the engine and cab reduces noise and vibration, making it one of the quietest cabs on the market.

Because the engine is separated away from the cab, it increases airflow which contributes to better engine performance through improved cooling capabilities. It also contributes to heat insulation for the cab, keeping the operator comfortable while improving engine cooling capacity and efficiency, maximizing uptime.

The spacious cab – together with the narrow hood design, an inclined windshield bending toward the front and a higher vantage point – offers ultimate visibility and comfort.

The new cab layout uses simple color coding on all controls to help operators get right to work. The new MF vDisplay™ puts all the key information operators need in an easy-to-read digital dashboard that can be personalized. The Datatronic™ 5 terminal, standard on the 8S, allows operators to quickly and easily change setups on the hydraulics, transmission and engine to make operation simpler and faster.

Made for performance
The 7.4-liter Tier 4 Final AGCO Power™ engine delivers performance and stability in the 8S Series tractors. Engine Power Management (EPM) provides a 5 percent boost to productivity and 10 percent fuel savings all at lower engine RPM, which also reduces noise. The 8S leverages the industry’s most mature SCR technology, paired with a simple, all-in-one aftertreatment system that provides for low-maintenance sustainability.

The 8S is available in two transmission options. The Dyna E-Power™, the new Dual-Clutch transmission designed by Massey Ferguson for the 8S range, provides smooth shifting and speed changes with no torque interruption and superior power transfer to the ground. The Dyna-VT™, Massey Ferguson’s proven CVT transmission, allows operators to select the exact speed and engine RPM needed for the job at hand.

Built for versatility and traction
The 8S Series is built with Massey Ferguson’s commitment to help protect the soil and preserve the land with future generations in mind.

With a minimum weight of just 8.7 tons, the 8S is lighter than others in its class. The lightweight tractors can tread lightly for top work and transport, while the strong design enables them to carry heavy loads or be ballasted up for draft operations.

The wide range of ballast and tire choices, including a large rear wheel diameter of 80.7 inches, ensures the 8S tractors can be precisely tailored to tasks, guaranteeing maximum traction and soil preservation while using a minimum amount of fuel.

With a 10-foot wheelbase length, the 8S offers improved stability with or without a heavy implement and maintains high levels of traction in the field and increased comfort in transport. The combination of the wheelbase and chassis design means less ballasting weight is needed, ensuring maximum soil preservation and reduced ground pressure during cultivation, drilling and seeding.