Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Monday October 4 Ag News


For the week ending October 3, 2021, there were 5.5 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 7% very short, 36% short, 55% adequate, and 2% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 12% very short, 41% short, 45% adequate, and 2% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 5% very poor, 8% poor, 19% fair, 42% good, and 26% excellent. Corn mature was 85%, near 89% last year, but ahead of 80% for the five-year average. Harvested was 21%, near 20% last year, and ahead of 16% average.

Soybean condition rated 2% very poor, 6% poor, 20% fair, 49% good, and 23% excellent. Soybeans dropping leaves was 95%, near 96% last year and 91% average. Harvested was 34%, behind 51% last year, but ahead of 28% average.

Winter wheat planted was 82%, ahead of 77% last year, and near 79% average. Emerged was 44%, ahead of 30% last year, and near 43% average.

Sorghum condition rated 9% very poor, 15% poor, 28% fair, 34% good, and 14% excellent. Sorghum mature was 84%, near 85% last year, but ahead of 76% average. Harvested was 21%, ahead of 16% both last year and average.

Dry edible beans dropping leaves was 95%, near 96% last year. Harvested was 72%, behind 81% last year.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 14% very poor, 16% poor, 52% fair, 17% good, and 1% excellent.


Harvest made good progress even with variable precipitation late in the week, allowing Iowa’s farmers 5.5 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending October 3, 2021, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Field activities included harvesting hay, soybeans and corn.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 13 percent very short, 32 percent short, 53 percent adequate and 2 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 17 percent very short, 36 percent short, 46 percent adequate and 1 percent surplus.

Eighty-seven percent of the corn crop has reached maturity, six days ahead of normal. Corn harvest for grain reached 19 percent statewide, eight days ahead of the 5-year average. Moisture content of field corn being harvested for grain fell to 20 percent. Iowa’s corn condition rated 60 percent good to excellent.

Soybeans dropping leaves or beyond reached 92 percent, eight days ahead of normal. Producers harvested over 20 percent of Iowa’s soybean crop during the week ending October 3, with the total harvested reaching 40 percent, ten days ahead of the five-year average. Farmers in central and east central Iowa have now harvested half of their soybean crop. Soybean condition was rated 64 percent good to excellent.

Pasture condition rated 27 percent good to excellent. Spotty precipitation helped keep some pastures green for cattle to continue grazing, but water for livestock continues to be an issue.

U.S. Harvest Moves Further Ahead of Average Pace

Another week of mostly dry, warm weather across much of the nation's midsection allowed corn and soybean harvest to move further ahead of the average pace last week, USDA NASS said in its weekly national Crop Progress report Monday.

Corn harvest continued to accelerate last week, moving ahead 11 percentage points to reach 29% complete as of Sunday, Oct. 3. That is 5 percentage points ahead of 24% last year and 7 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 22%.  For the rest of corn still in fields, NASS estimated the crop continues to reach maturity ahead of normal, with 88% of corn mature, 11 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 77%.  Corn condition was unchanged last week at 59% good to excellent.

Soybean harvest moved at an even more rapid pace last week, jumping ahead 18 percentage points to reach 34% complete as of Sunday. That is 1 percentage point behind last year's 35% but 8 percentage points ahead of the average pace of 26%.  For the remainder of the crop, NASS estimated that 86% of soybeans were dropping leaves as of Sunday, 6 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 80%.  The condition of soybeans remaining in fields was also unchanged last week, holding steady at 58% good to excellent.

Winter wheat planting again continued just slightly ahead of normal last week, with NASS estimating 47% of the crop had been planted as of Sunday, 1 percentage point ahead of the five-year average of 46%. Winter wheat emerged was pegged at 19%, just 1 percentage point behind of the five-year average of 20%.


– Todd Whitney, NE Extension Educator

Grain sorghum stover compares favorably to corn regarding fall & winter stalks grazing, and livestock producers are encouraged to utilize corn and sorghum crop residues remaining after harvest. Both, corn residue and sorghum stover can be good nutrition for mid- to late-gestation cattle following fall grain harvest. Sorghum leaves have similar quality to corn husk and leaves; however, just like corn residue, the quality decreases over time.

Although both residue crops provide the highest nutrient content when grazed soon after grain harvest; it is highly recommended to prioritize grazing corn stalk fields first. Corn leaves tend to detach from stalks within one to two months after harvest and then blow out of stalk fields. This then dramatically lowers the nutrition remaining for grazing. In contrast, grain sorghum stover leaves remain attached to their stalks much longer into the winter and early Spring; thus, retaining their grazing nutritional value longer.

Previous grain sorghum yields can be used to set optimum grazing stalking rates. For example, grazing rates might be 1 acre per cow per month for every 100 bushels of grain sorghum harvested this fall.

Unlike corn residue, grain sorghum stover has a threat of prussic acid toxicity immediately following a frost, since sorghum plants are often still green at harvest.

So, delaying grazing turnout until 7 days, after plant killing freezing temperatures, will reduce prussic acid toxicity. Sorghum stover’s higher nutrient stem content may make it more prone to nitrate toxicity risk especially on previously drought stressed fields if the cattle are forced to graze the lower parts of the stems.

Sorghum stover usually has less lodging than corn residue, so mud and trampling field losses are generally less with sorghum during wet falls. Finally, spilled sorghum grain is likely safer than corn and not as likely to cause acidosis or founder as corn grain.

More crop residues research information is available on our cropwatch.unl.edu and beef.unl.edu websites.

Webinars to cover meat processing plant development, grant opportunities

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Agricultural Profitability will host two webinars on developing meat processing plants at noon on Oct. 12 and Oct.14.

The Oct. 12 webinar will focus on the financial and legal issues associated with starting a new processing plant. It will cover how meat processing size has evolved and discuss financial concerns and food safety issues that should be considered. Presenters will be Elliott Dennis, assistant professor and extension livestock economist at Nebraska; Charlie McPherson, director of the Nebraska Business Development Center; and Dave Aiken, professor and extension agricultural law and water specialist at Nebraska.

The Oct. 14 webinar will explore grant opportunities available for proposed, new, or existing meat processing plants. It will cover how the market and political climate have contributed to the allocation of grant dollars for meat processing plants and what the university is doing to increase meat processing training and skills. It will be presented by Dennis; Greg Ibach, IANR undersecretary in residence; and Gary Sullivan, associate professor of meat science at Nebraska.

To register for the webinars, visit the Center for Agricultural Profitability’s website at https://cap.unl.edu/webinars.

With funding, Legislature can continue to support local meat processors

The Center for Rural Affairs is urging members of the Nebraska Legislature’s Appropriations Committee to follow through on lawmakers’ commitment to local meat processors as they allocate State Recovery Funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.  

The committee will seek the public’s input on funding during a hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. (CDT) Tuesday in Lincoln.    

During its 2021 legislative session, Nebraska senators unanimously passed Legislative Bill (LB) 324, making it easier for consumers to buy meat directly from producers or processors. Additionally, the legislation created the Independent Processor Assistance Program, which provides a roadmap for increasing local processing capacity and expanding market access for small producers.  

“The Legislature's support has already made it easier for consumers to purchase meat from local farmers,” said Johnathan Hladik, policy director for the Center. “Now, the Appropriations Committee has the opportunity to eliminate a key supply chain bottleneck that threatens small businesses across Nebraska.”

The bottleneck began when the coronavirus pandemic caused regional packing plants to pause production, leading large-scale beef and pork producers to turn to smaller local processors to fill the void. Hladik said local processors didn’t have the space or equipment to keep up with demand. This left family farms without a crucial partner, as many were forced to wait 12 to 18 months for a locker date.

Hladik said LB 324, introduced by Sen. Tom Brandt, did not include funding for the Independent Processor Assistance Program, as the senator and 19 cosponsors recognized the program would be an ideal match for the federal relief dollars flowing to the state.

“As they continue the difficult, but important, work of managing these resources, we are asking the Appropriations Committee to follow through on the support given to this program by lawmakers and the governor by setting aside $10 million to fund the Independent Processor Assistance Program,” Hladik said. “Officials in 18 states, including those bordering Nebraska, have recognized that small processors often lack access to ready capital, which is why they have developed their own grant programs. Their experience shows we can fix this problem.”

Land Prices Hitting Records in More States Than Iowa

Randy Dickhut, Senior Vice President - Real Estate Operations, Farmers National Company

Iowa land sales have garnered a lot of attention lately. The land market in Iowa has been on fire for the past year starting out last fall with better prices than we had been thinking. On through the winter, prices paid for cropland at auctions continued to move higher getting back near the levels last seen in 2013. Aggressive bidding continued into summer and the fall selling season with new high prices for an area being reached quite often. But, the land market is also strong in most other crop regions.

For instance, Farmers National Company recently sold a client's land in northeast Nebraska at a simulcast auction for $12,950-$13,400 per acre, which if not records for the county, would be very strong sales. (For more information, please visit the link). Another recent sale in Nebraska brought $14,000 per acre for non-irrigated cropland.

Other states are seeing strong land prices continue into the fall. Kansas, South Dakota, Illinois, and Indiana for instance, are experiencing strong prices for good cropland as farmers and investors bid for the land. Lower quality land is also seeing strength with sales prices far surpassing expectations in many areas.

Land sale activity in the grain belt slows during the heart of harvest. As auctions and sales pick up steam again in late October and November, much attention will be paid to the prices paid for ag land. Many focus on the main corn belt states, but it is important to watch all ag areas to observe the trend in land prices.

FarmBits podcast launches new season Oct. 7

The “FarmBits” podcast will return to airwaves beginning Oct. 7, with the release of new episodes. FarmBits has a new team of hosts and a refreshed structure that will add variety to the podcast.  

FarmBits launched in October of 2020 and was started by Jackson Stansell and Samantha Teten. Teten is a University of Nebraska-Lincoln alumna and Stansell is pursuing his doctorate in biological systems engineering at the university. Graduate student Zachary Rystrom also contributed to the podcast. Since its conception, FarmBits episodes have featured interviews with innovators and experts regarding digital agriculture technologies. Topics so far on the podcast have included rural connectivity, precision crop protection, and nitrogen management technologies, amongst others. The episodes feature new agricultural tools and technologies and present them in a bite-sized fashion.

FarmBits took a brief hiatus to train the new hosts and prepare to launch content. The podcast recruited and added five hosts including the following: Taylor Cross, Jose Cesario Pinto, Kelsey Swantek, Micah Most, and Asya Macon. The new hosts are all students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and each host will bring content to the podcast that aligns with their areas of interest and expertise.

Cross received her bachelor’s degree at North Carolina State University. For FarmBits, she will focus on the topics of precision land and soil management plus using drones in agriculture. Cesario Pinto is from Londrina, Brazil, and is seeking his doctorate in agronomy and horticulture. He hopes to help podcast listeners improve their farms with new, sustainable technologies. Swantek is an agricultural education  student and will bring the topics of agricultural advocacy and women in agriculture to the podcast. She is also an intern for the Nebraska Extension Digital Agriculture team.  

Most is pursuing his master’s in animal science. His research has an emphasis on heat stress in cattle and its impact on muscle growth. For the podcast, he will focus on precision technology for livestock and grazing management. Macon’s research focuses on precision animal management, and she is pursuing a master’s in mechanized systems management with a minor in animal science. She will bring the topics of animal behavior monitoring and using engineering tactics in the field of veterinary medicine.  

FarmBits strives to reach listeners across the agricultural industry from academia, to farming, and to agricultural technology. The podcast team also wants to reach anyone who listens to podcasts and wants to learn something new. New episodes will be released in seasons with hosts alternating throughout the season. Listeners will hear from multiple hosts and learn about multiple topics in each season. Listeners can also tune in to topics that they specifically want to learn about. There will be spring, fall, and summer seasons with episodes released every Thursday.  

Find FarmBits on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and iHeartRadio. The podcast currently has listeners across the U.S. and in 22 countries throughout the world. The podcast has 46 episodes to date and past episodes may be found on all platforms. Find FarmBits on social media platforms including LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  

FarmBits is a product of Nebraska Extension Digital Agriculture.

Finalists Named for 2021 Iowa's Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin

Juicy news to help kick off October Pork Month: the top five finalists have been selected for the 19th annual Iowa’s Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin Contest, presented by the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA).

They include:
    Elk Horn — Larsen’s Pub (winner in 2007)
    Emerson — Old Road Cafe & Bar
    Harlan — Victoria Station
    Indianola — Z’s Eatery and Draught Haus
    Miles — Stalker’s Pub

“We are always looking for a tenderloin that celebrates the taste of pork,” said Kelsey Sutter, IPPA’s marketing and programs director. “I’ve been involved with this contest for 10 years, and I’ve seen a definite increase in restaurants offering thick, hand-breaded tenderloins that do just that.”

In the spring, IPPA called on tenderloin fans everywhere to nominate their favorite sandwiches. Nearly 6,000 nominations were submitted for 526 different establishments.

The five restaurants with the most nominations from each of IPPA’s eight districts—for a total of 40 from around the state—were reviewed during the summer by IPPA’s restaurant and foodservice committee. Leading contenders were then turned over to undercover judges who scored tenderloins on the quality of the pork, taste, physical characteristics, and eating experience.

Any Iowa restaurant, café or tavern offering hand-breaded or battered pork tenderloins on its daily menu was eligible to be nominated. To win, the business must be open year-round with regular hours. Food trucks, concession stands, seasonal establishments, and catering businesses were not eligible.

The first- and second-place winners will be announced later this month, dubbed #Porktober21 on social media channels as part of the monthlong celebration of pig farmers and the great product they produce.

The winning restaurant will receive $500, a plaque, a banner to display, and statewide publicity that will bring in new business.

First-place restaurants are not allowed to compete for five years afterward.

Winners from the past five years: 2020 – PrairieMoon On Main, Prairieburg; 2019 – The Pub at the Pinicon, New Hampton; 2018 – Three C’s Diner, Corning; 2017 – Grid Iron Grill, Webster City; and 2016 – Nick’s, Des Moines.

Iowa Organic Conference Is Nov. 28-29 in Iowa City

The 21st annual Iowa Organic Conference will be held Nov. 28-29, at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City. Producers and experts from across the country will share tips for transitioning into organic production and methods to enhance organic operations.

The conference is a joint effort between Iowa State University and the University of Iowa.
Jessica Shade, chief scientist at The Organic Center, will deliver the keynote called “Resisting Climate Change with Organic Agriculture.”

The conference begins at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28, with vendor set-up in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union and on-site registration followed by a reception at 6 p.m. featuring local and organic food and drinks in the IMU Second Floor Ballroom.

The reception and conference lunch on Nov. 29 will highlight local and organic produce, meats and dairy products assembled into a gourmet meal by Barry Greenberg, executive chef at the University of Iowa, with help from his team.
Following Shade’s keynote at 8 a.m. Monday, the breakout sessions start at 10:30 a.m and include information on crop production and marketing, food safety, transitioning into organic farming, weed management, organic crop and livestock production, and carbon markets for farmers.

Keeping with the theme of “Save the Planet Through Organics: Managing Climate Change with Organic Practices,” the conference will have sessions on environmental and social impacts of organic food production and farming.

“The Iowa Organic Conference is the largest university-sponsored organic conference in the country,” said Kathleen Delate, professor and extension organic specialist in horticulture and agronomy at Iowa State. “Despite the challenges of wet weather early in the season and drought in many locations in July and August, organic farmers are anticipating successful organic yields with organic soybean prices currently averaging $32 per bushel and organic corn at $9.22 per bushel.”

Conference registration is available online and is $100 until Nov. 16, and $120 thereafter.

Hotel rooms are available at the Iowa House Hotel for Nov. 28. Guests can access room reservations online by entering group #112821, or call the hotel at 319-335-3513 and mention the Iowa Organic Conference.

For additional conference information and directions, visit the 2021 Iowa Organic Conference webpage https://www.regcytes.extension.iastate.edu/iowaorganic/ or contact Delate at kdelate@iastate.edu or 515-294-5116.

USDA Dairy Products August 2021 Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 1.14 billion pounds, 4.4 percent above August 2020 but 0.3 percent below July 2021. Italian type cheese production totaled 485 million pounds, 8.8 percent above August 2020 and 0.3 percent above July 2021. American type cheese production totaled 452 million pounds, 1.5 percent above August 2020 but 3.1 percent below July 2021. Butter production was 148 million pounds, 1.7 percent below August 2020 and  1.5 percent below July 2021.

Dry milk products (comparisons in percentage with August 2020)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 122 million pounds, down 17.0 percent.
Skim milk powder - 60.5 million pounds, down 12.7 percent.

Whey products (comparisons in percentage with August 2020)
Dry whey, total - 76.2 million pounds, down 3.3 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 90.6 million pounds, down 5.4 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 37.6 million pounds, down 6.2 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons in percentage with August 2020)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 63.8 million gallons, down 9.5 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 42.0 million gallons, down 7.5 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 2.37 million gallons, down 30.7 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 2.89 million gallons, down 10.4 percent.

Recent Trends in the Boxed Beef Cutout Value

James L. Mitchell, Extension Economist, University of Arkansas

Beef production involves the fabrication of a beef carcass into primal and subprimal cuts from which individual beef cuts are derived. Valuing a beef carcass involves working backward from these individual beef items. First, prices for beef cuts are combined to create subprimal values. Next, subprimal values are combined to calculate values for the seven beef primals: rib, chuck, round, loin, brisket, short plate, and flank. Finally, composite primal values are multiplied by their respective carcass yield percentages and summed to arrive at a beef cutout value for a specified quality grade (e.g., Choice cutout value). This is an oversimplification of the process, but the general idea is the same.

USDA-AMS reports boxed beef cutout values twice daily (LM_XB402 and LM_XB403) along with other boxed beef summary reports. Table 1 provides a summary of recent movement in the choice cutout value. For the week ending 10/1/21, the choice cutout value was $297.79/cwt, down 3.6% from the previous week but still 36.5% above this time last year. Table 1 also provides a summary for each Choice beef primal value. The rib primal, which is the highest valued beef primal, was down 4.5% last week. The loin and chuck primals were down 3.8% and 4.3% compared to the previous week. The round primal was 1.9% higher last week, while the brisket primal observed the largest weekly decline, down 11.5%.

Like cattle prices, the boxed beef cutout value has a distinct seasonal pattern. Seasonality in the cutout value is driven by price seasonality for individual beef cuts. Based on monthly data from 2014-2018, choice boxed beef prices are seasonally highest in May, averaging 6.7% above the annual average price. The seasonal high in May aligns with peak beef demand during grilling season (Memorial Day to Labor Day). Choice cutout prices decline through the summer, reaching a low in October when prices average 5.5% below the annual average Choice cutout value. Choice boxed beef prices recover, but remain below the annual average, during November and December's holiday beef buying season.

For the first half of 2021, the focus for beef markets was on replenishing restaurant outlets as vaccine rollout began and COVD-19 restrictions relaxed. At the same time, beef processors continued to struggle with labor and capacity issues. Together, consumer beef demand and processing challenges led to strong Choice cutout values through the first half of 2021. The Choice boxed beef cutout value steadily increasing through May, reaching a high of $338.56/cwt for the week ending 6/5/21. More recently, Choice boxed beef prices trended higher leading up to Labor Day, reaching a high of $347.02/cwt before declining through September. The recent decline in the Choice boxed beef cutout is partly explained by a normal seasonal pattern where prices decline through October.  

There are lingering questions about consumer beef demand as we closeout 2021 and move into 2022. Last year, we learned that consumers were willing to buy beef at higher prices. Recovery in the restaurant sector was certainly a positive for the beef industry in 2021. As the holiday beef buying season approaches, will we observe a return to company holiday parties and large family gatherings? Will beef demand remain strong next year? Monitoring boxed beef cutout values through the remainder of 2021 will offer insights into these questions.  

Celebrating National Co-op Month

As America’s largest farmer-owned cooperative, the cooperative model and the strength it brings to local communities is the backbone of CHS. Every October, that model is celebrated as part of National Co-op Month, which aims to spread awareness about the benefits of being part of the cooperative system and the important role cooperatives play in their communities.

The challenges of today’s society are not lost on cooperatives. The 2021 National Co-op Month theme, “Build Back for Impact,” recognizes issues such as a global pandemic, climate emergency and systemic racism and how the role cooperatives can play in facing these issues.

“CHS is proud to be part of the cooperative system and we’re driven by our purpose to create connections to empower agriculture,” says Jay Debertin, CHS president and CEO. “Our values of inclusion, integrity, cooperative spirit and safety guide us as we work together for shared success and to strengthen our communities.”  

NCBA Supports Additional USDA Funding for Beef Supply Chains

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an additional $100 million investment into the food supply chain infrastructure. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) supports this step to prioritize the expansion of beef processing capacity and dedicate further resources to build a more resilient cattle industry.

“Our number one goal at NBCA continues to be opening up new opportunities for cattle producers to be profitable,” said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane. “The pandemic accentuated a number of vulnerabilities within our supply chains—chiefly the choke point at the meatpacking sector which has resulted in unsustainable prices for cattle producers and increased the cost of beef for consumers. Today’s announcement is another step toward returning stability to the markets, and NCBA urges USDA to announce eligibility requirements and application instructions as quickly as possible.”

The $100 million announced today is in addition to the $500 million announced earlier this year.

In July 2021, Secretary Vilsack announced that USDA would invest over $500 million in federal funds to support food supply chains and simultaneously opened a public comment period to determine the most effective means of distributing these funds. NCBA submitted comments calling for federally-guaranteed, low-interest loans and grants to be distributed to small meatpackers looking to expand, and new market entrants desiring to construct new regional small to mid-size processing plants.

NCBA expects USDA to announce the parameters of this program soon and will provide more information as it becomes available.

Growth Energy Files Petition to Take RVP Fight to United States Supreme Court

Growth Energy filed a petition for certiorari in the United States Supreme Court today, asking the Court to review a D.C. Circuit opinion in American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, et al. vs. EPA, in which the D.C. Circuit vacated a 2019 EPA rule allowing year-round sales of a 15-percent ethanol fuel blend (E15).

The D.C. Circuit decision overturned EPA’s interpretation of a provision of the Clean Air Act that extended a waiver of limits on Reid vapor pressure (RVP), a measure of fuel volatility, to E15. Growth Energy argues that the decision did not give proper deference to EPA, contradicted Congressional intent in promoting renewable fuels, and would suppress the expansion of higher-blend renewable fuels in the future.

"In 2019, EPA paved the way for the sale of E15 year-round. Its decision was not only a win for the biofuels industry, our ag partners, and rural America, but for the environment and all drivers nationwide. Low-carbon biofuels like ethanol burn cleaner and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 46% compared to gasoline. E15 is approved for use in 95% of cars on the road; Year round consumer access to this higher blend of biofuel will further decarbonize our current auto fleet. We are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review this decision because it is not in line with important court precedent on statutory interpretation and because of its detrimental environmental impacts.”


In June 2019, EPA issued its final rule extending a waiver of Reid vapor pressure (RVP) volatility limits to E15, allowing the fuel to be sold year-round in conventional gasoline markets. Shortly thereafter, oil refiners challenged the rulemaking in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in an attempt to undermine the expansion of biofuels in our nation’s fuel supply.

Growth Energy participated as an intervenor in the case in support of the RVP rule. Growth’s brief provided strong support for EPA’s position that parity in RVP waivers for E10 and E15 is consistent with the text of the Clean Air Act and with Congressional intent. Growth argued that, because fuel volatility and evaporative emissions decrease when ethanol fuel blends increase beyond E10 (a 10-percent ethanol fuel blend), extending the RVP waiver from E10 to E15 furthers Congress’s interest in promoting the environmental benefits of renewable fuels. Growth also participated in oral arguments for the case.

On July 2, 2021, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the 2019 rule.

On August 16, 2021, Growth Energy, RFA, and NCGA filed a petition for rehearing with the D.C. Circuit, asking the three-judge panel and the full court to rehear the case because the decision conflicted with binding precedent and had exceptionally significant consequences for the biofuels industry and others. This court denied the petition on September 9, 2021.

Holding China Accountable Benefits Rural Economies

Today, Republican Leader of the House Agriculture Committee, Glenn “GT” Thompson, issued the following statement regarding Ambassador Tai’s address to the Center for Strategic & International Studies concerning the United States’ bilateral relationship with China:

"I have tremendous respect for Ambassador Tai, including her role in the development and passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. I remain hopeful she will invigorate the Biden Administration’s stagnant U.S. trade agenda, one that has settled on a never-ending stock-taking exercise rather than rolling up its sleeves and focusing on the real work of leveling the playing field. Phase I of the U.S.-China trade agreement, negotiated by the Trump Administration, has yielded a robust recovery in the U.S. agricultural economy, and I expect the Biden Administration to press China to stand by its commitments. The focus should be ensuring accountability for any unfulfilled promises while pushing to address additional barriers China maintains against our ag exports in a second phase. China must play by the rules which includes upholding its compliance with the terms of its WTO membership.”

Joint NMPF and USDEC Statement on Administration’s China Strategy

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern:
“Dairy farmers welcome the launch today of the administration’s new approach to the U.S.-China trade relationship given China’s tremendous importance to global dairy markets. To date, China has delivered on the multiple dairy regulatory commitments they made in the Phase 1 agreement. But retaliatory tariffs continue to put a drag on our sales, and our market share in key dairy commodities such as milk powder and cheese lags far behind that of our competitors. We urge the administration to press China for substantial progress on these two fronts so that dairy farmers and cooperatives are better positioned to supply China’s growing dairy needs.”

From USDEC President and CEO Krysta Harden:
“What China does impacts dairy markets all around the world given what a large purchaser of dairy products they are. American dairy farmers and manufacturers count on the ability for our products to meet China’s appetite for dairy, yet retaliatory tariffs continue to weigh down our prospects there. Long-term tariff waivers are critical to help unlock more of the potential in that market. In addition, it’s key that the administration encourages China to boost its purchasing of major dairy commodities such as milk powder and cheese that it is still primarily sourcing from other suppliers.”

Registration Open for 2022 American Farm Bureau Convention

People, Purpose, Possibilities – Growing Tomorrow, Together

The American Farm Bureau Federation announced the opening of general registration today for the 2022 American Farm Bureau Convention. The convention will be held in-person Jan. 7-12, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia, with a virtual option for portions of the event available to those not attending in-person.

“People, Purpose, Possibilities – Growing Tomorrow, Together” is the theme of AFBF’s 103rd consecutive convention, a “can’t miss” event that offers the inside scoop on policies and perspectives that will affect farms, ranches and agribusinesses in 2022 and beyond.

“This is your chance to look beyond the horizon at the future of agriculture, sharpen your skills and help set the agenda in Washington,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “I look forward to seeing you in January in my home state of Georgia as we begin another year of growing together.”

Attendees may participate in educational workshops to advance their leadership skills, expand business acumen and gain insight into the policies and trends impacting food production. The convention also offers the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge innovations in agriculture, hear from powerful speakers and explore a dynamic trade show with exhibitors showcasing the latest in agricultural technology, tools and services.

Workshop topics range from the 2023 farm bill, market outlooks, climate policy and trade to ag education resources, effective advocacy and mental health.

Key registration dates are listed below.
    Tuesday, Oct. 4 – general registration opens
    Thursday, Oct. 7 – sponsor, exhibitor and media registration opens

View the high-level agenda here and register here. The official event hashtag is #AFBF22; the event website is https://annualconvention.fb.org/

Higher Loan Limit Now Available for USDA Guaranteed Farm Loans

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing a higher loan limit will be available for borrowers seeking a guaranteed farm loan starting Oct. 1, 2021, from $1.776 million to $1.825 million.

“Farm loans are critical for our customers’ annual operating and family living expenses, emergency needs, and cash flow,” FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux said. “Raising the guaranteed loan limit will allow FSA to better meet the financial needs of producers as natural disasters and the pandemic continue to impact their operations.”

FSA farm loans offer access to funding for a wide range of producer needs, from securing land to financing the purchase of equipment. Guaranteed loans are financed and serviced by commercial lenders. FSA provides up to a 95% guarantee against possible financial loss of principal and interest. Guaranteed loans can be used for both farm ownership and operating purposes.

In fiscal year 2021, FSA saw continued strong demand for guaranteed loans. FSA obligated more than $3.4 billion in guaranteed farm ownership and operating loans. This includes nearly $1.2 billion for beginning farmers. The number of guaranteed borrowers has grown by 10% to more than 38,750 farmers and ranchers over the last decade. FSA expects the increasing demand for farm loans to continue into fiscal year 2022.

Disaster Set-Aside Extension

USDA has additional support available to producers given the recent outbreaks of the COVID-19 Delta variant and has extended the availability of COVID-19 Disaster Set-Aside (DSA) for installments due through Jan. 31, 2022. In addition, FSA will permit a second DSA for COVID-19 and a second DSA for natural disasters for those who had an initial COVID-19 DSA. Requests for a COVID-19 DSA or a second DSA must be received no later than May 1, 2022.

Last year, FSA broadened the use of the DSA. Normally used in the wake of natural disasters, the DSA can now allow farmers with USDA farm loans who are affected by COVID-19 and determined to be eligible, to have their next payment set aside. The set-aside payment’s due date is moved to the final maturity date of the loan or extended up to twelve months in the case of an annual operating loan. Any principal set-aside will continue to accrue interest until it is repaid. This will improve the borrower’s cashflow in the current production cycle.

USDA To Launch Loan Guarantee Initiative to Create More and Better Market Opportunities, Promote Competition and Strengthen America’s Food Supply Chain

As part of the Administration’s efforts to address food systems challenges arising from the pandemic as well as those going back decades, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA plans for another $100 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. The funding would leverage hundreds of millions more in lending through community and private sector lenders to expand meat and poultry processing capacity and finance other food supply chain infrastructure. These investments will help deliver more opportunities and fairer prices for farmers and address bottlenecks in the food supply chain revealed and exacerbated by the pandemic.

The Department plans to publish specific details on the new program and how to apply as part of USDA’s Build Back Better Initiative, a comprehensive plan to invest $4 billion to strengthen the resiliency of America’s food supply chain while promoting competition. This announcement follows the Biden-Harris Administration’s announcement earlier this month of steps it is taking to address concentration in the meat-processing industry, adding a new commitment of $100 million for loan guarantees on top of the previously announced $500 million investment to expand meat and poultry processing capacity.

“Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA is shifting the balance of power back to the communities and small businesses of America by investing in ways we can build more, better and fairer markets for farmers and families alike,” Vilsack said. “COVID-19 revealed vulnerabilities in our food system. As we build back better, we must create more, better and fairer markets that enhance competition and create economic opportunity across America’s agriculture and food supply chains. This is another meaningful step in our efforts to act on lessons from COVID-19 to build a food system that is fair, competitive, distributed and resilient where a greater share of the food dollar goes to those growing, harvesting, processing and preparing our food.”


The COVID-19 pandemic created extreme disruptions in America’s food supply chain, exposing vulnerabilities due to consolidated processing capacity. By expanding access to capital, USDA will help increase private investment to create a more resilient, distributed, and fairer food supply chain.

Through this program, USDA will use $100 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to catalyze millions more in lending available for working capital, facilities, equipment, and other investments. The loan guarantees will help to:
    start-up or expand entities in our food supply chain that aggregate, process, manufacture, wholesale or distribute food.
    address supply chain bottlenecks.
    increase the resiliency of the food supply chain.

As co-Chair of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, Secretary Vilsack and USDA have brought together industry, labor, and federal partners to address the short-term supply chain disruptions arising from the Administration’s strong economic recovery. This is one of several key steps that USDA will take to build a more resilient supply chain and better food system and to increase competition in agricultural markets, pursuant to President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy and his Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains. This initiative will support key supply chain infrastructure investments to expand and scale existing capacity, as well as support long-term investments in new operations.

USDA is preparing to issue a notice soon to announce eligibility requirements and the application window. USDA encourages lenders and other interested stakeholders to sign up for email updates to receive the latest information about the program and related events. USDA is hosting a lender training webinar on October 14 to inform rural lenders, community development financial institutions, food sector lenders and community lenders about how they can become approved to participate in this program. In addition, USDA is planning a forum for financing entities aligned with the announcement of the eligibility and application requirements.

Earlier this year, USDA announced more than $150 million for existing small and very small processing facilities to help them weather COVID, compete in the marketplace and get the support they need to reach more customers.

Mercaris Announces Updates to Acreage Analyzer, Expands Offering

Mercaris announced today updates to the 2021 acreage analyzer for non-GMO and organic crops. The tool, which was released earlier in 2021, helps users track organic and non-GMO crops including corn and soybeans, as well as other organic crops such as wheat and oats.

“We’re providing a tool that helps buyers and growers understand market share, evaluate production trends and identify expansion opportunities,” says James McKellar, director of data alliances and project management for Mercaris. “Through the acreage analyzer, they can understand the aggregate view of the organic and non-GMO acreage in the U.S., but also narrow down the data to a subset of state and crop-specific queries.”

The only tool of its kind, the Mercaris Acreage Analyzer provides users with a dynamic interface that captures key statistics around the expansion of certified organic and non-GMO field crop operations and acreage across the United States.  

“We’ve taken into consideration the needs of our users and built a tool that can provide value in the market,” adds McKellar. “Whether you want to know where a commodity is grown geographically or what the yield trends are year over year, this is the place to get that information.”

Since its introduction last March, long-time and new subscribers find the tool easy to use, while the bi-annual acreage updates the tool provides to help generate projections. For example, Mercaris estimates that total U.S. organic acreage will increase 6% year-over-year by the end of 2021, exceeding 9 million acres for the first time as the number of certified organic farms reaches nearly 20,000.

While the Acreage Analyzer is exclusive to Mercaris subscribers, a sample of the tool can be viewed at https://mercaris.com/sample_acreage_analyzer. For more information on Mercaris platform and to use the Mercaris Acreage Analyzer, visit www.mercaris.com.  

Organic Food Advocates Seek Reversal of Decision Authorizing Labeling of Hydroponic Operations as ‘Organic’

Today, Center for Food Safety (CFS), representing a broad coalition of organic farmers, certifiers, and organic nonprofits, filed their opening brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking reversal of a district court’s ruling issued in March that authorizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to continue certifying soil-less hydroponic operations under the organic label. As in the district court case, CFS argues that hydroponic operations cannot comply with federal organic standards because hydroponic crop producers do not work to build soil health, a mandatory requirement of the organic label.

“USDA is ignoring the core, soil-based principles of organic farming and relying on an exemption for hydroponic producers found nowhere in the federal organic standard,” said Meredith Stevenson, CFS attorney and counsel for appellants. “The district court holding rubberstamped USDA’s decision to continue unfairly undercutting the livelihoods of organic farmers who devote extensive time and resources to building healthy soils.”

Hydroponic operations, or "hydroponics," refer to methods of growing crops using water-based nutrient solutions without any soil. This appeal cites the federal Organic Foods Production Act (the Organic Act), which requires crop farmers to build soil fertility in order to be certified organic. The appeal challenges the lower court’s ruling that USDA was free to exempt hydroponic crop producers from the mandatory duty to build healthy soils.  

“Soil is the essence of organic farming and taking care of the soil with cover crops and rotations is mandated by the National Organic Program. Improving the country’s soil increases the value of our most important asset. Hydroponics has its place but has nothing to do with improving the soil,” said Larry Jacobs of Jacobs Farm Del Cabo, Inc.

CFS, along with 13 other organic stakeholders, originally filed a petition requesting USDA to prohibit organic certification of hydroponic operations that do not work with or build soil in January 2019. Most other U.S. trade partners prohibit hydroponic systems from organic certification. USDA denied the petition in June of 2019, stating for the first time  that hydroponic operations are exempt from the mandatory soil fertility requirement of the Organic Act that applies to all other organic crop producers.  

"Organic farming has been historically understood as whole farm management starting with building healthy soil. The near universal acceptance of this basic premise is challenged with the administrative exception carved out by the USDA circumventing soil and allowing nutrient solutions to be considered equivalent in growing food labeled as organic,” said Paul Muller, co-owner of Full Belly Farm.

CFS, along with a coalition of organic farms and stakeholders, filed the lawsuit challenging USDA's decision to allow hydroponic operations to continue to be certified organic in March 2020. In March 2021, the district court sided with the government, ruling that USDA's decision to exempt hydroponic operations from the mandatory soil fertility requirement was permissible because the Organic Act did not specifically prohibit hydroponic operations. The plaintiffs-appellants formally notified the court of their intent to appeal the decision in May.

“For our farmers and producers, it's clear that the organic regulations require soil-based crop production. Consumers also expect the highest integrity in the certified organic label. It's important for this matter to be settled so that consumers can trust that certified organic means soil-grown,” said Sarah Alexander, executive director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.

The plaintiff-appellants in the case are some of the longest-standing organic farms in the U.S., including Swanton Berry Farm, Full Belly Farm, Durst Organic Growers, Jacobs Farm del Cabo, and Long Wind Farm, in addition to organic stakeholder organizations, such as organic certifier OneCert, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, and Center for Food Safety.

“Hydroponics in organic is not permitted in the rest of the world, nor is it endorsed by the U.S. organic movement, nor is it supported by the law. It is time to fix this,” said Dave Chapman, owner of Long Wind Farm and founder of the Real Organic Project.

“Soil-less greenhouse growing has traditionally been seen as distinct from farming soil-based crops. While each has its appropriate place in food production, conflating the two is deceptive to the consumer,” said Jim Cochran, owner of Swanton Berry Farms.

“The Organic Food Production Act is essentially a tool that recognizes and defines farming practices that re-connect our food production with the natural world. Beginning with healthy soil, sunshine, and interaction with the natural world, organic foods contain the essence of life and fullness of nutrition. Hydroponically produced food attempts to short-circuit these connections—as an alternative farming practice, it should not be labeled organic,” said Jim Durst, CEO of Durst Organic Growers.  

“One of the purposes of the Organic Food Production Act is to assure consistency in organic certification. As the USDA has confirmed, the only way to certify hydroponics is to consider requirements for soil in OFPA and the organic regulations as not applicable,” said Sam Welsch, president of OneCert, Inc.

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