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.

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