Thursday, March 31, 2022

Wednesday March 30 Hogs & Pigs Report + Ag News


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2022, was 3.60 million head, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was down 1% from March 1, 2021, but unchanged from December 1, 2021.

Breeding hog inventory, at 430,000 head, was down 2% from March 1, 2021, but unchanged from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 3.17 million head, was down 1% from last year, but unchanged from last quarter.

The December 2021 - February 2022 Nebraska pig crop, at 2.17 million head, was up 2% from 2021. Sows farrowed during the period totaled 185,000 head, up 3% from last year. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.70 for the December - February period, compared to 11.85 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 190,000 sows during the March - May 2022 quarter, unchanged from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago. Intended farrowings for June - August 2022 are 190,000 sows, down 5% from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.


On March 1, 2022, there were 23.0 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs report. Inventory was down 3 percent from the previous quarter and down 3 percent from the previous year.

The December 2021–February 2022 quarterly pig crop was 5.37 million head, down 10 percent from the previous quarter and down 2 percent from last year. A total of 475,000 sows farrowed during this quarter. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.30 for the quarter.

As of March 1, producers planned to farrow 485,000 sows and gilts in the March–May 2022 quarter and 505,000 head during the June–August 2022 quarter.

United States Hog Inventory Down 2 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2022 was 72.2 million head. This was down 2 percent from March 1, 2021, and down 3 percent from December 1, 2021.

Breeding inventory, at 6.10 million head, was down 2 percent from last year, and down slightly from the previous quarter.

Market hog inventory, at 66.1 million head, was down 2 percent from last year, and down 3 percent from last quarter.

The December 2021-February 2022 pig crop, at 31.7 million head, was down 1 percent from last year. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 2.90 million head, down 1 percent from previous year. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 47 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was 10.95 for the December 2021-February 2022 period, compared to 10.94 last year.

United States hog producers intend to have 2.99 million sows farrow during the March-May 2022 quarter, down 2 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period one year earlier, and down 5 percent from the same period two years earlier. Intended farrowings for June-August 2022, at 3.03 million sows, are down 1 percent from the same period one year earlier, and down 7 percent from the same period two years earlier.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 49 percent of the total United States hog inventory, down 1 percent from the previous year.


The Northeast Nebraska Agriculture and Natural Resources Education Compact, a first-of-its-kind regional education partnership launched in 2019, expanded its membership at a March 29 signing event, adding 20 school districts and three Educational Service Units in the state’s northeast region.

That expansion extended the compact’s reach as far west as Ainsworth and includes all of northeast Nebraska’s tribal schools. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources was one of the founding member organizations, which aim to enhance K-12 instruction via partnerships and facilitate collaboration among higher-education institutions to expand opportunities for students.

A survey now underway among K-12 educators in northeast Nebraska will provide key input in shaping the compact’s priorities and direction, said CASNR Dean Tiffany Heng-Moss.

“Anytime that we are trying to develop a new program or trying to serve the K-12 system, you have to first listen,” she said. “You need to listen to what are the needs, what are the gaps, what are the opportunities.”

This initiative, she said, is “really going to be designed around the input from the K-12 partners.”

Increased use of expertise and facilities at Nebraska’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources will serve as an important resource for students and teachers. Another priority is strengthening schools’ interaction with industry to help students understand the breadth of careers in agriculture and natural resources.

Member organizations will provide supports not only to college-bound students, but to all students in the compact region, said Tammy Mittelstet, CASNR’s statewide education and career pathways coordinator.

“We want all students to be successful,” she said. “We want all students to find a clear education pathway” through coordination among the compact’s educational institutions. “So we’re looking at every child, not just the ones who might come to the university, because our land-grant mission is for all Nebraskans.”

The compact’s original partner organizations were CASNR, Little Priest Tribal College, Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, Nebraska Indian Community College, Northeast Community College, Wayne Community Schools and Wayne State College.

At the March 29 signing event at Northeast Community College, ESUs 1, 7 and 8 joined the compact, along with the following school districts: Ainsworth, Allen, Battle Creek, Boone Central, Crofton, Elkhorn Valley, Emerson-Hubbard, Homer, Laurel-Concord-Coleridge, Neligh-Oakdale, O’Neill, Ponca, South Sioux City, Stanton, Summerland, Umonhon Nation, Walthill, Winnebago, Winside and Wisner-Pilger.

Little Priest Tribal College in Winnebago has participated in the compact’s discussions since the partnership began in 2019 and is hoping to begin an ag education program, said Janyce Woodard, the college’s director of equity and extension.

Nebraska has “a lot of ag industry, and it is advancing all the time,” she said. “So there is a need for students to become interested in agriculture when they’re in high school, but even earlier than that. If they find that love for the land and animals and agriculture, then they may decide that might be something they would want to pursue at either a two-year or a four-year college.”

The partner organizations are benefiting from a CASNR newsletter describing resources and events among the compact members, Woodard said.

The expansion of the compact’s membership presents an important opportunity for enhanced partnerships and innovative programming, said Tara Smydra, dean of science, technology, agriculture and math at Northeast Community College.

“I really think that having the ESUs and additional high schools is going to be a game changer for this,” she said. “If we can find out what they need specifically and how we can assist in getting those pathways set for students in all areas, it will help tremendously.”

The expansion of the compact can strengthen support for teachers across the region, said Molly Aschoff, the assistant administrator for Neligh-based ESU 8, one of the three ESUs just added.

The compact is “preparing a database of resources across the state these teachers can tap into,” she said. “They’re also spending time preparing teachers, looking at their curriculum, making sure their pathways are up to date and accurate.

“The best way to develop a student is to have highly qualified teachers in front of them, and the compact helps us do that. Anytime we can put time and effort into our teachers, our students benefit greatly from that."

The compact’s strategies involving career pathways, CASNR Dean Heng-Moss said, “will be aligned with supporting the ag and natural resources sector in the state of Nebraska.” For example, the compact partners are looking to Nebraska’s Haskell Agricultural Laboratory in Concord, about 15 miles north of Wayne, as a “living, learning laboratory” to offer students experiential learning in ag and natural resources.

The 550-acre site includes extensive cropland, farming and ranching facilities, an arboretum, pollinator gardens and beehives, said Doug Zalesky, director of the Eastern Nebraska Research, Extension and Education Center.

“We have a lot of great opportunities to utilize those resources for all age groups,” he said.

“If industry partners invest in our future generation of Nebraskans,” said CASNR’s Mittelstet, “then they will feel supported early on and, in our opinion, those students will want to stay here in Nebraska.” That’s because they see “they've been invested in and they know the opportunities are there for them."

Smydra, at Northeast Community College, pointed to the compact’s potential for educational innovation thanks to ongoing dialogue among such a breadth of organizations.

“So many things are going to come from this just organically because of conversations of having those partners at the table,” she said.

In the end, it all revolves around student success, Mittelstet said.

“One of the big pieces to this compact is for students to see that they have a support system around them no matter what path they choose, and we're all working together for their success,” she said. “If we invest in our future generation now, they will be there for us in the future.”

UNL to host webinar on pasture, forage management decisions during drought

An upcoming webinar discussing how drought impacts forage production on native rangeland will walk through trigger dates and discuss management options for cattle producers at each date.

“Triggering Pasture and Forage Management Decisions Before a Drought” will be hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Agricultural Profitability at noon on April 7, as part of its weekly webinar series.

Presenters will include Nebraska Extension Beef System Educators Randy Saner, Ryan Benjamin and T.L. Meyer.

Pasture and native rangeland forage production fluctuates greatly over time, due to precipitation, temperature, range health and soil nutrients. The amount and timing of spring and early summer precipitation is an important factor in determining annual plant production. The webinar will focus on how using critical or trigger dates can help cattle producers adjust stocking rates if precipitation – and the resulting forage production – is expected to be below average.

Registration is free at

Farm tours focus on soil health in Nebraska, Iowa

Current, beginning, and Latino farmers across Nebraska and Iowa interested in hearing from farmers about their operations and the application of specific practices for soil health are invited to “Soil Health Farm Tours,” hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs.

This series of free farm tours are scheduled for the following dates, times, and locations:

Sunday, April 10, noon to 2 p.m.
Honey Creek Creamery
Honey Creek, Iowa

Sunday, April 24, noon to 2 p.m.
Hideaway Farm
North Bend, Nebraska

Saturday, May 7, noon to 2 p.m.
Little Mountain Ranch and Garden
Fort Calhoun, Nebraska

Sunday, May 22, noon to 2 p.m.
Robinette Farms
Martell, Nebraska

“The whole family is invited to these tours to learn about produce, livestock, and other specialty crop farmers in Nebraska and Iowa,” said Cait Caughey, beginning farmer and market associate for the Center. “Farmers will discuss their operations with us and how they apply specific practices for good soil health.”

Each event will include a one-hour tour in English and Spanish with time for questions with the farmer at the end of the event.

Registration is required one day in advance. Sign up at For more information, contact Caughey at or 402.380.5192.

This project is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Nebraska Resources Conservation Service grant.

Nebraska wineries join together to host the 2022 TOAST Nebraska Wine Festival

The Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Association (NWGGA) is excited to launch ticket sales for their annual wine festival, TOAST Nebraska, the largest gathering of wineries in the state.

Consisting of 17 participating wineries for the 2022 festival, the event is one of a kind in that the wineries themselves host the event through the statewide association (NWGGA). The festival is a fantastic chance to experience a wide variety of offerings from wineries located across the state, all in one location at Stinson Park in Omaha's Aksarben Village.
The event reached record attendance in May of 2021 with over 3,000 attendees from over 22 states, and the wineries expect even more excitement surrounding the 2022 event. Along with the participating wineries, attendees can expect products and offerings from over 34 local artisan and food vendors, live music and bands, and free activities including charcuterie classes, wine education seminars, and the crowd-favorite, wine bingo.

The event is an excellent opportunity to stock up on your Nebraska wine favorites or discover a new preference. Attendees can purchase multiple bottles of wine to replenish - or start - their very own Nebraska wine cellar at home. The event staff even hosts a wine check, similar to a coat check, so purchasers needn't worry about bearing the weight of all their new purchases. Attendees can also purchase bottles for consumption on-site, with many sharing a bottle with friends while enjoying the live music on the lawn in front of the Bradford Bowl stage or playing a few relaxing games of wine bingo in the picnic area.

The event is hosted over two days at Stinson Park, kicking off on Friday, May 13, with doors opening at 4:00 p.m. and the event ending at 9:00 p.m. The fun continues on Saturday, May 14 at 1:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.

Tickets are $35 for Friday tickets and $45 for Saturday tickets. Admission includes a wine tasting glass, unlimited wine tastings, a wine tote, access to vendors, live music and bands, and free activities such as charcuterie classes and wine bingo. Two-day tickets, as well as designated driver tickets, are also available. Tickets increase by $20 on May 6 until the event ends. All attendees must be 21 years of age or older to attend - no infants, children, or pets.

To purchase tickets and find more event information for the 2022 TOAST Nebraska Wine Festival, visit and Tickets are limited, and on-site ticket availability is not guaranteed.

IDALS, APHIS Confirm Fourth Case of HPAI in Buena Vista County, Iowa

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have confirmed a positive case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Buena Vista County, Iowa. The virus was found in a commercial turkey flock.  This is the fourth confirmed case of HPAI in Buena Vista County, Iowa.

Flock owners should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds and report sick birds or unusual deaths to state/federal officials. Biosecurity resources and best practices are available at If producers suspect signs of HPAI in their flocks, they should contact their veterinarian immediately. Possible cases should also be reported to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship at (515) 281-5305.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recent HPAI detections in birds do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States. It remains safe to eat poultry products. As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 ˚F kills bacteria and viruses.

Iowa Corn Announces Future of Agriculture Scholarship Recipients

Iowa Corn announced the 18 student recipients of the Iowa Corn Future of Agriculture Scholarship program for the 2021-2022 school year. Iowa Corn awarded the eighteen (18) $1,000 one-year scholarships to deserving, qualified students enrolled at an accredited U.S. 2-year or 4-year junior college, college or university, or graduate school, in a program of study to equip them to contribute to Iowa’s agriculture industry. The program is sponsored by the Iowa Corn Growers Association® (ICGA) and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board® (ICPB).

“At Iowa Corn, we are passionate about supporting and growing current and future leaders. Our success depends on our ability to developing young leaders entering Iowa’s agricultural sector,” said Adam Bierbaum, a farmer from Griswold, Iowa and chair of the Iowa Corn Grassroots Network, Membership & Checkoff Committee. “Iowa Corn is excited for the future of agriculture in Iowa with this group of recipients leading the way.”

High school scholarship winners include:
    District 1: Clayton Ehlers, of Marathon, IA Dordt University
    District 2: Delia Swanson, of Galt, IA, Iowa State University
    District 3: Dacia Schoulte of Farmersburg, IA, Iowa State University
    District 4: Corey Heithoff of Coon Rapids, IA, Iowa State University
    District 5: Hailey Heishman of Malcom, IA, Iowa State University
    District 6: Caelan Engelbrecht of Davenport, IA, Iowa State University   
    District 7: Ashlyn Vorthmann of Treynor, IA, Northwest Missouri State University
    District 8: Halle Evans of Creston, IA, Iowa State University
    District 9: Sevanna Hol of Oskaloosa, IA, Iowa State University   

College scholarship winners include:
    District 1: Alli Harms of Milford, IA, Iowa State University
    District 2: Brielle Smeby of Klemme, IA, Iowa State University
    District 3: Rachel Bauler of Hudson, IA, Iowa State University
    District 4: Molly Simmons of Yale, IA, Iowa State University
    District 5: Dylan Hosek of Traer, IA, Morningside University
    District 6: Austin Miller of Walker, IA, Iowa State University
    District 7: Nathan Behrends of Wiota, IA, Iowa State University
    District 8: Ben Vos of Pella, IA, Dordt University
    District 9: Ellie Bell of Keota, IA, Iowa State University

Selection committees evaluated applications by their essays, applications, reference letters, current grades, and activities. They also must be an Iowa Corn Growers Association member or be a dependent of a member.


Nominations now open to recognize the 2022 Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year

Nominations are now being sought to recognize the 2022 Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year.  Now in its 70th year, this prestigious honor has been awarded to celebrate conservation progress and Iowa farmers who are committed to exceptional environmental stewardship and conservation efforts.

The statewide and regional awards, co-sponsored by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), honor Iowa farmers who have distinguished track records of commitment to soil conservation and water quality improvement efforts. The grand prize winner will receive the use of a new John Deere 6E utility tractor for one year. Last year’s Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year award winner, Cedar County farmers Ken Fawcett and his nephew, Kent Stewart, were recognized for embracing innovative conservation practices to take on the challenge of improving Iowa’s soil health and water quality while sharing their experiences and insight with fellow farmers.    

To nominate a farmer for the award, visit for a short form summarizing the nominee’s conservation efforts and commitment to improving soil.  Nominations are due May 13, 2022  to your local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) office.

“Iowa’s farmers and landowners continue to go above and beyond to be good stewards of our land while feeding the nation,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “Future generations will benefit from the concerted effort these farmers and landowners have made today to protect our soil and water quality and their families’ farming legacies. I encourage Iowans to nominate someone in their community who has embraced environmental stewardship and more sustainable farming practices.”

“Everyone has a role to play in protecting Iowa’s soil and water quality, and this award showcases the exemplary efforts of farmers who are leading by example and making big strides in conservation,” says IFBF President Brent Johnson.  “Recognizing and celebrating farmers’ conservation achievements and sharing examples of successful innovative conservation practices can help encourage others to embrace proven practices to improve our water quality.”

One nominee will be selected by each of Iowa’s 99 county SWCD offices. These individuals will be considered for regional conservation awards. Nine regional award winners will compete for the title of “Iowa’s Conservation Farmer of the Year.”

The winner will be announced during the Iowa State Fair and will receive the keys to their tractor during the Conservation Districts of Iowa annual meeting, September 23-24, in Ames. The 2022 Conservation Farmer of the Year winner will receive free use of a John Deere 6E Series utility tractor for up to 12 months or 200 hours of use. The prize, valued at more than $12,000, has long been donated by the Farm Bureau partner Van Wall Equipment of Perry and John Deere.   

Weekly Ethanol Production for 3/25/2022

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending March 25, ethanol production declined by 6,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 0.6%, to 1.036 million b/d, equivalent to 43.51 million gallons daily. Production was 7.4% more than the same week last year and 6.6% above the five-year average for the week. The four-week average ethanol production volume increased 1.0% to 1.033 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 15.84 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks rose 1.5% to 26.5 million barrels, the highest level since April 2020. Stocks were 25.6% higher than a year ago and 13.4% above the five-year average. Inventories built across all regions except the Gulf Coast (PADD 3).                                                                                                                                                                                                
The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, decreased 1.6% to 8.50 million b/d (130.29 bg annualized), the lowest level since late January. Demand was 4.4% less than a year ago and 1.5% below the five-year average.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol declined 2.1% to a six-week low of 847,000 b/d, equivalent to 12.98 bg annualized. Net inputs were 4.0% less than a year ago but 0.5% above the five-year average.

There were no imports of ethanol for the ninth consecutive week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of January 2022.)

Retail Fertilizer Trends - DAP Fertilizer Price Index Sets Record

Significantly higher retail fertilizer prices returned the fourth week of March 2022, according to sellers surveyed by DTN. The last time two fertilizers were double digits higher was the first week of December 2021.

DAP and urea led the way higher. DAP was 16% more expensive compared to last month and has an average price of $1,014 per ton. DAP is now at the highest level in the history of the DTN data set. The previous high for the phosphorus fertilizer was $984/ton set the first week of November 2008.

Urea was 10% higher compared to last month with an average price of $976/ton. This price continues to be an all-time high. MAP is up 10% from last month and had an average price of $1,018/ton. 10-34-0 is 5% more expensive compared to the prior month with an average price of $881/ton.

Three fertilizers were slightly higher compared to a month earlier. Potash had an average price of $850/ton, anhydrous $1,523/ton (all-time high) and UAN28 $622/ton (all-time high).

The remaining fertilizer was slightly lower this month. UAN32 had an average price of $698/ton, a drop from the nitrogen fertilizer's all-time high of $703, which was set last month.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $1.06/lb.N, anhydrous $0.93/lb.N, UAN28 $1.11/lb.N and UAN32 $1.09/lb.N.

Most fertilizers continue to be considerably higher in price than one year ago. MAP is now 46% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 47% higher, DAP is 65% more expensive, both UAN28 and UAN32 are 86% higher, urea is 95% more expensive, potash is 99% is higher and anhydrous is 123% higher compared to last year.

Research at Kansas State University discovers destressing benefit from feeding cattle industrial hemp

A new study by Kansas State University finds that feeding cattle industrial hemp may have a beneficial effect on their welfare: a reduction in stress and increasing the times when they lie down.

"Cattle experience a variety of stress and inflammation," said Michael Kleinhenz, assistant professor of beef production medicine at the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine. "Our most recent data shows how cannabinoids via industrial hemp decreased the stress hormone cortisol as well as the inflammatory biomarker prostaglandin E2. This shows that hemp containing cannabidiolic acid, or CBDA, may decrease stress and inflammation in cattle. Thus, hemp may be a natural way to decrease stress and inflammation related to production practices such as transportation and weaning."

Kleinhenz has published the results of his study, "Short term feeding of industrial hemp with a high cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) content increases lying behavior and reduces biomarkers of stress and inflammation in Holstein steers," in Scientific Reports.

"Our new research helps us better understand how cannabinoids present in industrial hemp interact with bovine physiology and pharmacology," Kleinhenz said. "For instance, we now know that repeated daily doses of CBDA via feeding hemp does not result in accumulation of cannabinoids in the blood. Additionally, it solidified previous research and shows that each cannabinoid has its own absorption and elimination profile."

Another benefit observed when feeding cattle industrial hemp is that they lie down more, which can help them ruminate and produce saliva.

Kleinhenz, who is in the college's clinical sciences department, worked with a multidisciplinary team. Researchers on the project included graduate students Mikaela Weeder, Shawnee Montgomery, Miriam Martin and Andrew Curtis; and anatomy and physiology department faculty members Geraldine Magnin, Hans Coetzee, Jason Griffin and Zhoumeng Lin; K-State Research and Extension's John C. Pair Horticulture Center in Haysville; and the environmental and global health department at the University of Florida. Each brought expertise in pharmacology, toxicology and plant biology.

"If hemp is to be utilized as an ingredient in the ration of cattle, it is prudent to know and understand the pharmacokinetics and potential biological effects of cattle exposed to repeated doses of cannabinoids present in industrial hemp," Kleinhenz said. "The initial data we have collected is essential should industrial hemp and its by-products are to be considered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Association of American Feed Control Officials. Further work is needed to determine if cannabinoids can alter the stress response in cattle during stressful times such as transportation and weaning, but we hope this research is a step forward in the right direction."

Funding for this work was provided by a grant from the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Soy Checkoff Releases 2021 Sustainability Overview Report

The soy checkoff released its inaugural U.S. Soy Sustainability Overview which outlines key environmental achievements made by U.S. soybean farmers. Their ongoing commitments will help optimize their efforts to continue providing the most sustainably produced soy to domestic and international customers.

The U.S. Soy Sustainability Overview, developed by the checkoff on behalf of U.S. soybean farmers, details the modern practices and advanced technologies deployed by farmers in recent years to conserve land, water, energy and other natural resources. With the U.S. soybean industry progressing toward its 2025 sustainability goals to reduce land use, soil erosion and greenhouse gas emissions while increasing energy efficiency, significant progress has also been made in the past four decades. Between 1980 and 2020, conservation efforts by U.S. soybean farmers have improved:
    Land use efficiency by 48% per bushel.
    Irrigation water use efficiency by 60% per bushel.
    Energy use efficiency by 46% per bushel.
    Greenhouse gas emissions efficiency by 43% per bushel.
    Soil conservation by 34% per acre.
    Soy production by 130%, using roughly the same amount of land.

“With the world demanding sustainably sourced food, feed, fuel and thousands of other nonfood products, we know that U.S. Soy plays an outsized role in delivering solutions in the U.S. and around the globe,” said Polly Ruhland, USB CEO. “Continuously improving is at the heart of our work in optimizing sustainability throughout the value chain. Our soybean farmers are committed to sharing the progress we have made and how we’re looking ahead to contribute in solving some of society’s biggest challenges, such as food security and sustainable energy.”

U.S. farmers realize these gains by employing a range of sustainability best practices, including cover crops, crop rotation and conservation tillage, to maximize yields while also capturing carbon from the atmosphere and conserving soil, water and other precious natural resources. Advances in technology, such as precision farming equipment and drones, also support more sustainable farming.

These efforts advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. U.S. Soy initiatives directly support SDG Goal 2: Zero Hunger and intersect with other goals such as Clean Water and Sanitation, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action, Life on Land, and Partnership.

“When my father started farming in the ‘60s, 30-bushel-an-acre soybeans was a good yield. When I started in the ‘90s, it was 45,” said Tim Bardole, USB farmer-leader and soybean farmer from Iowa. “Today, if we don’t grow 70-bushel-an-acre soybeans, it’s considered a disappointment. To me, that proves sustainability. If we are damaging the land, it would not produce the way it does, all while implementing practices like no-till to strengthen our soil’s resiliency, preventing runoff and erosion.”

Looking beyond the farm, USB spurs innovation to develop new uses for soy’s meal and oil components, in many cases advancing solutions that provide renewable and more climate-friendly alternatives to fossil fuels and carcinogens. For example, USB fostered advances in biodiesel, which uses soy oil to provide fuel that has the potential to reduce greenhouse emissions by up to 86% compared with petroleum diesel. Additionally, U.S. soybeans are increasingly used as a sustainable alternative to chemicals found in plastic, paints and adhesives and helps support 4.6 million American biobased jobs, according to a 2019 U.S. Department of Agriculture report.

The U.S. Soy Sustainability Overview highlights climate-smart farming practices stimulating results, shares the stories of farmers across the country like Bardole who have driven dramatic improvements simultaneously in sustainability and productivity, and establishes a benchmark for U.S. Soy, setting the foundation for broader measurement and reporting in the years ahead. For regular updates about U.S. soybean sustainability, please visit

USDA Seeks Nominees for the United Soybean Board

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is seeking nominees for the United Soybean Board to succeed 42 members and 7 alternate members with terms that expire in December 2022. The deadline for nominations is May 4, 2022.

Nominees are needed to succeed members in Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, Eastern Region, and Western Region, and to succeed alternate members in Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Eastern Region, and Western Region. Individuals appointed to the board will serve three-year terms beginning in late 2022 and ending in 2025.

Soybean producers within the United States who own or share the ownership and risk of loss of soybean production are eligible for nomination. A soybean producer must be nominated by a qualified state soybean board and complete an application. The Secretary of Agriculture will select individuals from the nominations submitted.

A list of qualified state soybean boards, the nomination form and information about the United Soybean Board are available on the AMS United Soybean Board webpage and on the board’s website, For more information, contact Barbara Josselyn at 202-713-6918 or

March Cattle on Feed Report Assessment

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

The USDA Cattle on Feed Report from March 25 was neutral with some differences across potential marketing windows. Placements were decidedly strong and, while within the range of expectations, were at the very top end of that range. Pre-report expectations anticipated that placements would be 106.3 percent of last year with a range of 104.0 to 109.8 percent. Actual placements during the month of February were 109.3% of the prior year at 1.848 million head. (Well done, LMIC.) The futures market reacted little on Monday to this bearish-if-anything news in the deferred contracts suggesting that many participants were not surprised by the placement magnitude. Dry weather, poor pasture in the southern plains, and specifically poor wheat pasture have led to stronger feeder cattle movements into feedyards. It is also anticipated that placements through April and likely into May will be more modest that typical. Thus, while the intermediate term is bearish the long-term – or end-of-the-year market outlook is more optimistic.

Fed cattle marketings were also strong. Pre-report expectations anticipated that marketings would be 104.3 percent of last year with a range of 103.3 to 104.6 percent. Actual marketings during the month of February were 104.9% of the prior year at 1.825 million head. This is clearly bullish news in the short-term. The inventory of market-ready cattle continues to be reduced and will place less pressure on meatpacker operations. The inventory of cattle on feed over 150 days and over 120 days are increasing whereby following the normal seasonal pattern but are modestly below the prior year. These inventories expanded sharply during the pandemic shutdowns and have simply not returned to more normal levels. The focus on weekly, and even daily, fed steer and heifer slaughter will continue to occur and be appropriate until market-ready inventories shrink some. This is good news for market outlook but then again, those heavy placements will be with us through the summer.

Cattle on feed inventories are large. The beginning of March saw an inventory of 12.163 million and down modestly from the beginning of February’s record large inventory of 12.199 million head. Pre-report expectations anticipated that on-feed inventory would be 101.1 percent of last year with a range of 100.8 to 101.5 percent. Actual inventories were 101.4% of the prior year and within the range of expectation but to the high side because of the heavy placements. Not entirely as expected but certainly explainable given the weather conditions impacting the feeder cattle system.

Ranch Group Applauds House Introduction of Mandatory Country of Origin Beef Labeling Bill

Today, cattle producers applaud Congressmen Lance Gooden (R-Tex.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who have introduced legislation to require the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and U.S. Trade Representative to reinstate mandatory country of original labeling (MCOOL) for beef.

This legislation joins its companion effort already introduced in the Senate, the American Beef Labeling Act of 2021, S. 2716. The bipartisan Senate bill was introduced by Senators John Thune (R-S.Dak.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mike Rounds (R-S.Dak.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in September 2021. The Senate version has swelled to 10 bipartisan cosponsors with hundreds of cattle industry, manufacturing, labor and consumer groups in support.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, the United States continues to import beef from 20 different countries and approximately 135,000 head of live cattle a month from Canada and Mexico.

“American cattle producers are being unfairly displaced out of their own market,” said R-CALF USA Field Director Karina Jones. “We have got to implement MCOOL immediately to give our cattle producers leverage at the meat counter and the American consumer the accurate information that they deserve. Without MCOOL, we will import ourselves out of a domestic market.”

“American cattle ranchers are being undercut by foreign competition because current labeling standards allow imported beef to be marked as made in the United States if it is only packaged here,” said Rep. Gooden. “Our trade policies should promote American-made beef and put the hard-working cattle ranchers in the United States first.”

“It is critical that American consumers are able to make informed decisions about the meat they buy. Consumers should be able to know that they are truly supporting American farmers and ranchers from labels at the store,” said Rep. Khanna. “Right now, consumers and producers are hurting from a lack of transparency in the marketplace. I’m glad to partner with Rep. Gooden on this bipartisan bill to reinstate common-sense mandatory country of origin labeling.”

R-CALF USA and the Texas Animal Protein Producers Prosperity and Security group released a joint statement: “We applaud Representative Gooden and Khanna’s introduction of the American Beef Labeling Act in the U.S. House. This bill will empower consumers to make informed choices by requiring country of origin labels on beef purchased in grocery stores. Consumers should be able to choose beef produced under the United States’ stringent production and safety standards, and we trust American consumers will choose beef produced exclusively in America.”

President’s Budget Recognizes Crop Insurance is Key to Farm Safety Net

The President this week released his proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget that fully funds the federal crop insurance program in recognition of the indispensable role that crop insurance plays in the farm safety net.
The release of the FY 2023 Budget follows a letter sent to OMB and the Secretary of Agriculture by 55 farming, banking, and conservation organizations asking that the administration protect crop insurance from harmful budget cuts.
The American Association of Crop Insurers, Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau, Crop Insurance Professionals Association, Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, and National Crop Insurance Services released the following joint statement:
“America’s farmers and ranchers feed our nation, grow the fibers that clothe us, and provide an important economic driver for our rural communities. Over the past several years, crop insurance has helped farmers navigate the challenges posed by weather disasters, supply chain disruptions, and uncertain markets. The Administration has recognized the importance of crop insurance as a critical risk management tool by fully funding crop insurance in its FY 2023 budget.
“The crop insurance program works for farmers and taxpayers alike:
-    By delivering aid quickly and efficiently, crop insurance continues to earn the trust of America’s farmers, protecting more than 90 percent of America’s planted crop land acres.
-    Farmers invest in their own protection. Last year, farmers spent $5 billion to purchase crop insurance and then shouldered a significant portion of losses through deductibles.
-    Crop insurance complements farmers’ efforts to invest in conservation and climate-smart farming practices.
-    The federal government spends less than a quarter of 1% of its budget on the farm safety net, including crop insurance, making this a worthwhile investment to protect the world’s most affordable and safe food and fiber supply.

“We appreciate this Administration for fully funding crop insurance in its proposed budget. We urge Congress to follow suit by protecting and strengthening crop insurance."

USDA Encourages Producers to Enroll Grasslands into Working Land Conservation 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages producers and landowners to enroll in the Grassland Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) starting next week through May 13, 2022. Grassland CRP provides a unique opportunity for farmers, ranchers, and agricultural landowners to keep land in agricultural production and supplement their income while improving their soils and permanent grass cover.   The program had its highest enrollment in history in 2021 and is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s broader effort to equip producers with the tools they need to help address climate change and invest in the long-term health of our natural resources.  

Grassland CRP is a federally funded voluntary working lands program. Through the program, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides annual rental payments to landowners to maintain and conserve grasslands while allowing producers to graze, hay, and produce seed on that land.  Maintaining the existing permanent cover provides several benefits, including reducing erosion, providing wildlife habitat and migration corridors, and capturing and maintaining carbon in the soil and cover. 

“Grassland CRP is an important working lands conservation tool that offers a win-win to both our country’s producers and the environment by supporting and enabling grazing activities, while at the same time promoting plant and animal biodiversity and stemming rangeland conversion,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “We had a successful signup last year, and we look forward to broadening our base and working with new producers, particularly our historically underserved producers, to ensure they can access the program and its many benefits.”  

FSA provides participants with annual rental payments and cost-share assistance. The annual rental rate varies by county with a national minimum rental rate of $13 per acre for this signup. Contract duration is 10 or 15 years. 

Grassland CRP National Priority Zones 

Because Grassland CRP supports not only grazing operations but also biodiversity and conserving environmentally sensitive land such as that prone to wind erosion, FSA created two National Priority Zones in 2021: the Greater Yellowstone Migration Corridor and Dust Bowl Zone. As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s focus on conservation in important wildlife corridors and key seasonal ranges, for this year’s signup, FSA is expanding the Greater Yellowstone Wildlife Migration Corridor Priority Zone to include seven additional counties across Montana, Wyoming, and Utah, to help protect the big-game animal migration corridor associated with Wyoming elk, mule deer, and antelope.  
“Over the past year, we have continued to make improvements to Grassland CRP to improve its effectiveness and help local communities meet their conservation goals, including preserving critical wildlife habitat. The addition of seven counties to the Greater Yellowstone Wildlife Migration Corridor Priority Zone will help us do just that,” Ducheneaux added.
Offers within one of these National Priority Zones will receive an additional 15 ranking points and $5 per acre if at least 50% of the offer is located in the zone. 

Alongside Grassland CRP, producers and landowners can also enroll acres in Continuous CRP under the ongoing sign up, which includes projects available through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE).    

Broadening Reach of Program 

As part of the Agency’s Justice40 efforts, producers and landowners who are historically underserved, including beginning farmers and military veterans, will receive 10 additional ranking points to enhance their offers. 

Additionally, USDA is working to broaden the scope and reach of Grassland CRP by leveraging the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) to engage historically underserved communities. CREP is a partnership program that enables states, Tribal governments, non-profit, and private entities to partner with FSA to implement CRP practices and address high priority conservation and environmental objectives. Interested entities are encouraged to contact FSA. 

More Information on CRP   

Landowners and producers interested in Grassland CRP should contact their local USDA Service Center to learn more or to apply for the program before the May 13 deadline.  Additionally, fact sheets and other resources are available at    

President’s Trade Agenda Must Include Indo-Pacific Agreement

The American Farm Bureau Federation is calling on the Biden administration to use the proposed Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) to grow American agriculture exports to the region. AFBF submitted a statement to today’s House Ways and Means Committee hearing, “Biden Administration’s 2022 Trade Policy Agenda,” and tomorrow’s Senate Finance Committee hearing, “The President’s 2022 Trade Policy Agenda.”

U.S. farmers and ranchers rely on export markets for more than 20% of agricultural production. While IPEF is a strong start toward improving relationships and reaching new agreements with the region’s countries, it should also include a strategy of creating binding commitments and improving market access for agriculture through reduced tariffs.

“Trade is critically important to the current prosperity of U.S.  farmers and ranchers,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “American agriculture depends on growing and stable export markets for the success of their business.

“We need a continuing focus by the administration on removing trade barriers to our agricultural products and expanding market access to American goods throughout the world, especially in the Indo-Pacific region.”

AFBF also encourages the Biden administration to:
    Build on relationships with China that were strengthened by the U.S.-China Phase 1 agreement;
    Resume trade negotiations between the U.S. and UK to resolve non-science-based barriers to agricultural exports; and
    Work toward increased transparency in the World Trade Organization through an improved notification process.

As Congress considers discussions with current and future trading partners, AFBF urges lawmakers to consider how to most effectively expand agricultural exports to benefit U.S. farmers and ranchers.

Dairy Priorities Emphasized in Congressional Letter on Indo-Pacific Economic Framework

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) today praised a bipartisan letter from 87 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who called on U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, “to make agriculture a priority in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework” (IPEF).
The letter was led by Representatives Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and Jodey Arrington (R-TX), together with Jim Costa (D-CA), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Ron Kind (D-WI) and Randy Feenstra (R-IA). The members of Congress called on the administration to use IPEF to address barriers to U.S. agricultural exports, create mutually agreed-upon regulatory reforms that would benefit U.S. dairy and others in American agriculture, “include efforts to reduce tariffs on U.S. agricultural exports” and more.

“These members of Congress have their fingers on the pulse of the agricultural economy, which in turn supports so much of rural America,” said Krysta Harden, president and CEO of USDEC. “Dairy farmers and manufacturers need a framework that lives up to the recommendations laid out in this letter, ensuring America’s dairy industry – from farmers to workers to manufacturers – are able to compete fairly and efficiently in fast-growing markets across Asia and the Pacific.”

“America’s dairy farmers and their cooperatives are strongly reliant on exports, which is why it’s essential that the Biden administration focus on tackling global barriers that stand in the way of our high-quality products,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Consumers around the world are hungry for dairy and our industry is eager to better meet that demand, unburdened by trade barriers and tariffs. But for that to happen, we need effective economic engagement with key trading partners, just as these members of Congress envision.”

The Congressional Research Service reported in February that the U.S. has held exploratory talks on IPEF with Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea, although no determination has been made on the framework’s participants. Southeast Asia is one of the largest export destinations for U.S. dairy exports and sales to that region grew by 11% last year despite headwinds caused by supply chain issues and tariff disadvantages in key markets. South Korea and Japan round out the top ten markets for U.S. dairy products and saw growth rates of 15% and 17% respectively in 2021, making clear that these markets are priorities for U.S. dairy.

EPA Seeks Nominations for the Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is announcing a  solicitation for nominations  to serve on its Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee (FRRCC). Established in 2008, the FRRCC provides independent policy advice, information, and recommendations to EPA’s Administrator on a range of environmental issues and policies that are of importance to agriculture and rural communities.

“The FRRCC provides a venue for agricultural stakeholders to provide meaningful feedback to EPA regarding a range of policies and programs,” said Rod Snyder, Senior Agriculture Advisor to the Administrator. “This is especially important as the Agency considers how to best support and partner with farmers, ranchers, and rural communities to address the climate crisis.”

The FRRCC was recently rechartered for a two-year period, and Administrator Michael S. Regan has issued a new charge for the committee to focus on advancing climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies for U.S. agriculture. America’s farmers and ranchers and workers find themselves on the front lines of the climate crisis, facing increasing impacts from extreme weather events like severe storms, widespread flooding, prolonged drought, and more frequent wildfires. The advice and recommendations from the rechartered FRRCC will help EPA to support farmers and ranchers in their efforts to reduce emissions and accelerate a more resilient food and agriculture system.

To build a broad and balanced representation of perspectives for the FRRCC, members will be selected from a variety of relevant sectors. Members may represent farmers, ranchers, and rural communities; allied industries, including farm groups, rural suppliers, marketers, and processors; academia and researchers; state, local, and tribal government; and nongovernmental organizations. EPA values and welcomes opportunities to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility on its federal advisory committees.

To be considered for an appointment to the FRRCC, nominations should be submitted to by May 16, 2022, with the subject line “FRRCC Membership 2022.” Nominations should include a résumé or curriculum vitae and a statement of interest. Letters of support and recommendation will be accepted but are not mandatory.

Avian Flu Puts Easter Egg Supplies at Risk  

Recent outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) within the U.S. layer flock are adding strain to beleaguered egg supply chains, which have not fully recovered from disruptions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. While egg production has stabilized in recent months, it is still well below pre-pandemic levels and egg availability could be limited leading into Easter, according to a new research brief from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange.

“U.S. egg producers have been hard-pressed to align supplies with market demand over the last two years,” said Brian Earnest, lead animal protein economist with CoBank. “The U.S. layer flock typically expands ahead of the surge in demand for Easter and contracts during the summer months. But recent losses due to HPAI have combined with high feed costs and other challenges that are severely limiting flock size management.”

The U.S. table egg layer flock trended ahead of target growth in 2019, however, the annual supply has declined by more than 5% since then. The decline in supply stems from extreme shifts in consumer behavior during 2020. Although grocery demand skyrocketed during the onset of the pandemic, egg producers were not initially set up to shift lost food service volumes into retail channels.

The lack of packaging equipment and supplies needed for grocery sales led to empty store shelves, sky-high retail prices, and ultimately, lower egg consumption. Compounding the pandemic challenges, producers also faced increased input costs of grain, energy and transportation.

The latest blow to U.S. egg supplies is the worst outbreak of HPAI in years. At least 11 million layers have been lost in recent weeks. With USDA reporting new cases almost daily and depopulation of operations ranging from in the tens of thousands to more than 5.3 million birds,1 estimating the total expected losses is challenging.

The most recent USDA weekly shell egg demand indicator2 shows about five days of inventory are currently on hand, which normally suggests a tight, but not alarmingly tight supply. However, it does not appear that supplies will be able to accommodate the reduction in layers as a result of HPAI outbreaks, especially at a regional level.

Current supply pressures coincide with typical in-store grocery features ahead of Easter celebrations. With eggs serving a dual purpose of both decoration and cooking supply, retailers typically rely on eggs as a loss-leader. Market forces result in seasonally higher wholesale values for shell eggs ahead of Easter, but with the tight supply situation now exacerbated by flock reductions, prices are above fundamental ceilings. Consumers are likely to absorb some of the cost increases as they seek to fill their baskets with eggs prior to Easter.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Tuesday March 29 Ag News

Road safety campaign aims to keep farmers safe

Aiding U.S. farmers in getting home safely to their families every night is a priority for your soy checkoff. While farming may be one of the most rewarding occupations, it’s also one of the most dangerous. With the support of the United Soybean Board and state soy organizations, including the Nebraska Soybean Board, the Maryland Soybean Board developed the Find Me Driving “Road Safety” campaign, aimed to raise motorists’ awareness of farm equipment drivers on the roads during the spring, summer and fall. The campaign also offers farmers tools for best practices in driving slow moving vehicles (SMVs) on roadways. Through the campaign, various resources — such as training videos, safety posters and window clings for your tractor and combine — were developed to help keep farmers and others safe on the road.

“Farmers driving SMVs can do so much to raise awareness of their presence on the road to other faster-moving vehicles,” said Anne Meis, Chair of the Nebraska Soybean Board Education and Communication Committee. “It comes down to operational best practices when moving farm equipment from one location to another, and each farm equipment driver should follow the safety tips available from this campaign to help ensure their safety and the safety of others.”

One particular asset created for the campaign is the road safety window cling, which took home a regional first place “Best of NAMA” award this year. The National Agri-Marketing Association’s awards program honors the best work in agricultural communications. Placed in the cab of a slow-moving vehicle, the cling reminds drivers of basic safety checks to make before driving on a public road:
    Reflective materials and SMV emblem are displayed and clean.
    Brake pedals are locked together for even stops.
    Required lights and warning flashers are on; turn off rear facing work lights.
    Mirrors are clean and adjusted for clear views.
    Tires are at the maximum recommended pressure and wheel bolts are tight.
    Route conditions are clear of road construction, bad weather and accidents.

“We encourage all farm organizations to promote the road safety campaign tools with their farmers and share the road safety information with their non-farming neighbors driving the same rural roads with our farm equipment,” concluded Meis.

The Find Me Driving campaign website has a collection of safety-related resources for general motorists and SMV drivers including checklists, training videos, driving statistics and tips, and safety articles.

Nebraska extension offering reimbursement for events serving women in agriculture

Nebraska Extension’s Women in Agriculture program has launched a new effort to support events across the state that are geared toward serving female farmers, ranchers and agribusiness professionals.

The Nebraska Women in Agriculture Partnership Program will reimburse eligible event organizers for up to $2,500 in educational expenses. Priority for 2022-23 will be given to events that focus on stress mitigation and suicide prevention. Submissions are welcome from any educational event that primarily serves women in agriculture and is focused on farm and ranch business management and related topics.

Jessica Groskopf, director of Nebraska Women in Agriculture, said the program offers new and established events the chance to grow by offsetting some eligible expenses, which could include speaker fees, venue rental and costs for marketing and printing.

“By partnering with other events around the state, Nebraska Women in Agriculture is able to build on its commitment to empower more women to compete and survive in the ag industry by providing leadership, learning experiences, support and networking opportunities,” Groskopf said.

For over 35 years, the Nebraska Women in Agriculture program has worked to provide unbiased, research-based risk management education to female agriculture operators, consultants, landowners, service providers and value-added business owners in Nebraska. Through annual conferences and year-round programming, the program has helped to develop the management skills and resiliency of women in every facet agriculture.

More information about the partnership program is available on the Nebraska Women in Agriculture website,

2022 Beef Ambassador Contest

Nebraska Cattlewomen - Consumer Promotion and Education Committee with the Nebraska Cattlemen would like to announce the 2022 Nebraska Beef Ambassador Contest and Beef Advocacy Training will be held Thursday, June 9, 2022, at Mid-Plains Community College in Valentine beginning at 1:00 pm. The competition is targeted towards youth who are passionate about the beef industry.

The Nebraska Beef Ambassador Program provides an opportunity for youth, ages 14 - 24 years old, to become spokespersons and future leaders for the beef industry. Senior and collegiate divisions are judged on an issues response and a mock media interview. The advocacy workshop will help participants learn how to use advocacy to share their stories, interview strategies, and social media tools.

More information can be found on the Nebraska Cattlemen website Registration deadline is Friday, June 3, 2002.  

Seed Selection to Combat Alfalfa Diseases

Melissa Bartels, NE Extension Educator

Alfalfa is Nebraska’s 3rd most valuable crop. As you think about selecting alfalfa varieties to plant this year; be sure to consider varieties available with greater resistance to diseases. Anthracnose and Phytophthora root rot are two of the most serious alfalfa diseases we are faced with here in Nebraska.

Anthracnose can appear anytime of the year on any age of alfalfa stand. Affecting the stems and crowns of the alfalfa plant, this disease can move rapidly and significantly lower alfalfa production in as little as one to two growing seasons. In some cases, disease stress can reduce alfalfa’s ability to with stand cold temperatures resulting in winter kill.

Phytophthora root rot is a major cause of seedling death and the most common root rot affecting all stages of alfalfa. This pathogen can cause seedling damping off in new stands followed by plant death in wet conditions, occurring in as little as a few days. In established stands, Phytophthora root rot causes taproot issues resulting in up to a 50% yield loss and progressive decline over time and potential winter kill.

With both of these diseases’ symptoms are most devastating on susceptible alfalfa varieties. Therefore, proper seed selection will be the first line of defense for disease management. Select varieties of alfalfa seed that have at least a moderate to high resistance to anthracnose and Phytophthora root rot to effectively prevent yield and stand losses. There are multiple races of anthracnose that have been identified to cause economic damage to alfalfa in the Midwest, race 1, 2 and the newly discover more aggressive race 5. Be sure to consult your seed representative to get the best protection for your alfalfa fields as new varieties are coming to the market this year.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Welcomes Supreme Court Decision to Hear Case Against California’s Prop 12

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case brought by the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation against California’s Proposition 12, which bans the sale of pork from hogs born to sows that weren’t raised according to the state’s “arbitrary” production standards.

“We are extremely pleased that the Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 12. California’s desire to impose regulations targeting farming practices outside its borders is a direct attack on our nation’s livestock producers who dedicate their lives to ensuring the humane treatment of the animals they raise,” said Mark McHargue, president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

In November 2018, California voters approved Proposition 12, a ballot measure that prohibits the sale of pork and eggs that is not produced according to the state’s production standards. Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, Proposition 12 was set to impose unscientific animal housing standards that reach outside of California’s borders to farms across the United States. However, the Sacramento County Superior Court ruled to delay enforcement of Proposition 12 for retailers in January. That delay was set to last for 180 days.

“This law is misguided and should not dictate farming practices for an entire nation. It’s important for agriculture to share with the court how Proposition 12 will restrict farmers’ efforts to provide a safe environment for their animals and how this law damages family farms and raises the price of pork and eggs across the country,” McHargue said.

The U.S. Supreme Court could hear oral arguments in the fall and could render a decision by the end of the year.

 Continued Support for Fischer’s Updated Cattle Market Reform Bill

Several national and Nebraska agriculture organizations have emphasized their support for U.S. Senator Deb Fischer’s (R-Neb.) updated Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act. Sen. Fischer, who is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced the new version of the bill this week with Sens. Grassley (R-Iowa), Tester (D-Mont.), and Wyden (D-Ore.).

“Thank you to Senators Fischer, Grassley, Tester, and Wyden for their relentless pursuit to advance legislation that strengthens the bottom line of the U.S. cattle producer. There has never been this much momentum for industry change, both in the countryside and in the Capitol. USCA stands with county, state, and national producer associations across the U.S. in supporting mandatory cash trade minimums – a concept that is also supported by the majority of Senate Agriculture Committee members…” said U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) President Brooke Miller.

“Rampant consolidation in the cattle industry has made pricing in the cattle market increasingly opaque. Fair cand competitive markets rely on price discovery and transparency. For farmers and ranchers to bargain effectively with packers, they need access to reliable, accurate pricing information. This bill would shed light on the market and bring about greater fairness. NFU thanks Senators Tester, Grassley, Fischer, and Wyden for their continued leadership on this issue. The bill improves upon the version from November 2021, and we encourage swift action by the Senate and House on this legislation,” said National Farmers Union (NFU) President Rob Larew.

“Nebraska Farm Bureau and the farm and ranch families we represent continue to thank Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer for her leadership in helping to provide needed reforms to Nebraska’s cattle industry. The complexities and controversies surrounding the way cattle are marketed within the United States cannot be understated. However, as with every issue she champions, Sen. Fischer remains steadfast in her commitment to do what’s right for farmers, ranchers, and all Nebraskans. NEFB remains committed to working with Senator Fischer to provide additional cattle market transparency and price discovery,” said Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) President Mark McHargue.

“Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) strongly supports Senators Fischer, Grassley, Tester, and Wyden’s updated Cattle Market Reform Bill. This negotiated bipartisan bill represents an historic opportunity to substantially improve and reform beef markets. It will increase beef market competition, transparency, the volume of mandatory price reporting data, cash market sales, penalties for packer violations, and establishes a cattle contract library. NeFU supports all those critical beef market reform provisions. We strongly urge the Senate Ag Committee and Congress to take full advantage of the bipartisan momentum that exists to restore competition in beef markets. The current non-competitive system is systematically squeezing multi-generational family businesses out of business. We thank Senator Fischer for her hard work, tenacity, and leadership. Beef production is the largest source of farm income in Nebraska, and is critical to the future of our state,” said Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) President John Hansen.

"Price discovery is a public good. Negotiated market participants invest time and resources to discover fed cattle prices for their respective regions and the entire industry. Until price discovery participation is better valued at all points in the supply chain, live cattle market price negotiation will continue to decrease until there is little to no negotiated trade left and outside markets will have to be relied upon for price determination. We thank Senator Fischer for her continued work and dedication to identifying resolutions to this complicated issue,” said Nebraska Cattlemen President Brenda Masek.

The updated bill would:
    Require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish 5-7 regions encompassing the entire continental U.S. and then establish minimum levels of fed cattle purchases made through approved pricing mechanisms. This does NOT change the Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) reporting regions. Approved pricing mechanisms are fed cattle purchases made through negotiated cash, negotiated grid, at a stockyard, and through trading systems that multiple buyers and sellers regularly can make and accept bids. These pricing mechanisms will ensure robust price discovery and are transparent.

    Establish a maximum penalty for covered packers of $90,000 for mandatory minimum violations. Covered packers are defined as those packers that during the immediately preceding five years have slaughtered five percent or more of the number of fed cattle nationally.

    The bill also includes provisions to create a publicly available library of marketing contracts, mandating box beef reporting to ensure transparency, expediting the reporting of cattle carcass weights, and requiring a packer to report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days. The contract library would be permanently authorized and specify key details about the contents that must be included in the library like the duration of the contract and provisions in the contract that may impact price such as schedules, premiums and discounts, and transportation arrangements.

NeFU Supports for Updated Cattle Market Reform Bill

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) announced its strong support for Senators Fischer, Grassley, Tester, and Wyden’s updated Cattle Market Reform Bill. NeFU has been calling on Congress for years to address the lack of competition in agricultural markets, including all the meat markets. The four firm concentration ratio (CR4) in beef markets is 85%.

NeFU President John Hansen said, “This negotiated bi-partisan bill represents an historic opportunity to substantially improve and reform beef markets. This bill will dramatically increase beef market competition, transparency, the volume of mandatory price reporting data, cash market sales, penalties for packer violations, and establishes a cattle contract library. The updated Senate bill is an extremely positive step in the right direction towards restoring competition.  It needs to move forward.”

NeFU Vice President and Policy Chair Vern Jantzen of Plymouth said, “Our current beef market system is badly broken. It needs a comprehensive overhaul. NeFU policy supports these critical beef market reform provisions. Beef production is the largest source of farm income in Nebraska, and is critical to the future of our state. If we want beef producers tomorrow, we must act today to fix our broken beef markets.”

Hansen said, “According to the February 2022 USDA NASS data, Nebraska’s beef industry is the leading source of farm income in our state and ranked 1st in the nation in commercial cattle slaughter, 2nd in beef and veal exports, all cattle and calves, all cattle on feed, and commercial red meat production, and 4th in beef cows. It is fair to say that the future of our state and our beef industry are linked. The better our beef does, the better our state does. When beef producers make money, it drives the rural and state economy forward. It is critical to the future of our state that Congress fixes our broken beef markets.”

“We strongly urge the Senate Ag Committee and Congress to take full advantage of the high tide of bi-partisan momentum that exists today to begin the process of restoring competition in beef markets.  It will be a long and frustrating process. President Biden’s Executive Order on Competition provides us additional leverage that we should fully utilize. We thank Senator Fischer for her hard work, tenacity, and leadership.  We urge all beef producers and beef supporters to help Senator Fischer move the badly needed reform package forward”, Hansen concluded.

Jantzen said, “Our hard-working beef producers are not only world class beef producers, they are world class natural resource managers. It is imperative that we focus on the nuts and bolts of beef market reforms so that our beef producers can get paid a fair price for the top-quality beef they produce.”

Cattle Market Reform Discussion Continues in 2022

Today, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced an updated version of the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act. The bipartisan bill includes several provisions aimed to improve price discovery and transparency for all participants in the fed cattle market, just as the preceding bill introduced last year. However, negotiations between members of the Senate Agriculture Committee and feedback from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) led to several changes from the previous iteration that remain to be determined.

In brief, the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act requires the nation’s largest beef packers to procure a percentage of their cattle via negotiated-type trade. This bill signals commitment from congressional leaders to cross the finish line with a solution that requires packers to increase competitive participation in the fed cattle market beyond alternative marketing arrangements.

"Sen. Grassley works tirelessly to represent his constituent cattlemen in the face of adversity,” said Bob Noble, president of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. “We look forward to working with USDA and Iowa's congressional delegation to ensure the provisions are implemented in the most meaningful way possible.”

About the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act
    The bill establishes a variety of approved pricing mechanisms that may be utilized by packers for procurement, including cattle sold at a stockyard/auction market, through a trading system or platform with multiple buyers and sellers, and via cash or negotiated grid means.  
    The provisions outlined in the bill apply to the lower 48 states, which means the USDA is charged with creating new regions to regulate major packers outside of the beef belt.
    Initial mandatory minimum requirements within each region are based on historical cash and negotiated grid purchases in 2020 and 2021.
    Covered packers are required to meet mandatory minimums within a time period established by the USDA (minimum one week; maximum 30 days).

In addition to the aforementioned changes, the bill requires covered packers to report the number of cattle scheduled for delivery for each of the next 14 calendar days; includes mandatory reporting of cutout yield data; establishes a cattle contract library; expedites average carcass weight reporting; and increases the penalty for mandatory minimum violations to $90,000 each.

North American Meat Institute:
Grassley-Fischer Bill is Still a Government Mandate on Producers

The North American Meat Institute today said the latest version of the Grassley-Fischer government mandate bill is now more onerous and more irrelevant as market driven prices for cattle producers have steadily risen to seven-year highs.

    “Supply and demand has already driven the cattle markets back into balance without the radical government interference and convoluted mandates called for in the latest draft of the Grassley-Fischer bill,” said Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts. “Make no mistake, the bill still contains government mandates directing how producers market their cattle.”

The new draft mandates a certain amount of cash-market sales between packers and cattle feeders, establishing “government approved pricing mechanisms” by which cattle must be bought and sold.

     “If this bill becomes law,” said Potts, “there will be cattle producers who want alternative marketing arrangements (AMAs) but will instead be forced to sell on the cash-market, and the industry will turn back time to the days of commodity cattle, or worse, to government-controlled markets.”

At the 2022 American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention in Atlanta, Dr. Stephen R. Koontz, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Colorado State University said, “Mandated cash trade is not going to get you better price discovery. It's going to put a $50 cost on calves impacted.” This $50 cost per head will be shouldered by cattle feeders and cow-calf producers - those hard hit by the pandemic.

AMAs benefit producers and consumers because producers are incentivized and rewarded to invest in the quality of the herd, resulting in consistent high-quality beef that consumers demand. With the premiums producers can receive through AMAs, producers can continue to innovate, which is critical as consumers increasingly demand – and the industry provides – more sustainable beef. Without a robust and market-balanced role for AMAs, the costs associated of meeting increased sustainability will be borne by producers, either through higher costs of production or decreased demand for beef.

Both the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the nation’s two largest producer organizations, oppose mandates.

R-CALF USA Issues Statement on the Modified Compromise of the 50/14 Bill

Yesterday, Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) jointly released a modified compromise of the earlier introduced 50/14 bill, also known as the spot market protection bill. The newly modified compromise bill is called the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act of 2022. R-CALF USA strongly opposed the initial version of the compromise bill and called on the Senate Agriculture Committee to reject the bill pending the conclusion of R-CALF USA’s Cattle Antitrust Litigation.    

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard issued the following statement in response to the modified compromise’s announcement:

“R-CALF USA remains deeply disappointed that Congress has not yet taken any meaningful action to address the serious crisis in the cattle industry that is now entering its eighth year.

“We don’t yet know how many U.S. cattle operations have been needlessly destroyed by the prolonged, structurally broken marketplace as the U.S. Department of Agriculture ceased publishing annual reports on the number of U.S. cattle operations several years ago.    

“What we do know based on what USDA does still report is that we’ve lost another 1,000 small independent feedlots just between 2020 and 2021.

“Based on the combination of widespread drought and the broken marketplace, we fear our industry’s losses of cattle farmers and ranchers and cattle feeders are substantial and ongoing.

“We asked Congress to take decisive action to restore the competition purged from our cattle markets by the largest packers that shifted large volumes of cattle out of the competitive cash market and placed them in non-competitive captive supply arrangements. Some or all of these captive supply arrangements are akin to packer ownership and control of cattle.

“While we reserve our opinion regarding the modified compromise bill pending our ongoing analysis, we remain concerned that at its heart, the proposal authorizes the USDA to take up to two more years before it even establishes minimum cash volume requirements; to set those minimum requirements at the same inappropriate level that they’ve been at during the past two years; and then to keep them at that inappropriate level following the required review after the first two years of implementation and periodic reviews after each five-year increment.

“We were hoping Congress would provide a measured response to this serious crisis and we will continue wading through this complicated proposal to determine if it provides any meaningful reform worthy of America’s independent cattle producers’ support.”

IDALS, APHIS Confirm Additional Cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Iowa

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have confirmed two positive cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Iowa. The confirmed cases were in a commercial turkey flock in Hamilton County, Iowa and a commercial layer flock in Guthrie County, Iowa.

Flock owners should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds and report sick birds or unusual deaths to state/federal officials. Biosecurity resources and best practices are available at If producers suspect signs of HPAI in their flocks, they should contact their veterinarian immediately. Possible cases should also be reported to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship at (515) 281-5305.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recent HPAI detections in birds do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States. It remains safe to eat poultry products. As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 ˚F kills bacteria and viruses.

EPA Expands Use of Enlist Products to 134 Additional Counties for the 2022 Growing Season

Following the thorough review of a proposed label amendment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the use of Enlist One and Enlist Duo in 134 additional counties, providing growers with additional weed management options for the 2022 growing season. Today’s action is an example of EPA’s commitment to working with stakeholders when new information becomes available to make regulatory decisions that reflect the best available science and protect human health and the environment.

Enlist One and Enlist Duo, two herbicides used to control weeds in conventional and genetically modified corn, cotton, and soybean crops, can now be used in all counties of Arkansas, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. In Texas, Enlist products can now be used in Bowie, Cooke, Fannin, Grayson, Lamar, and Red River counties. Read page 16 of the new Enlist One label and page 16 of the new Enlist Duo label to see which counties remain prohibited.

In January 2022, EPA issued seven-year registrations for these Enlist products. At that time, Enlist One and Enlist Duo were not approved for use in all counties of the United States. Counties were prohibited if they were not proposed for use by the product registrant, Corteva, or if EPA expected the use of Enlist products would likely affect or jeopardize federally threatened or endangered (listed) species that live on-field in a county.

In February 2022, Corteva submitted a label amendment to propose use of Enlist One and Enlist Duo in 128 additional counties. Corteva did not propose use in these counties during the registration renewal because Enlist products were previously thought to put the American Burying Beetle, a threatened species, at risk. However, after the renewal action was complete, Corteva proposed that EPA consider use in these counties. Based on EPA’s new effects determination, which included a robust analysis of updated species range maps from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), EPA expects that the use of these products — with the existing label requirements in place to mitigate spray drift and pesticide runoff — will not likely jeopardize the American Burying Beetle or other listed species and their critical habitats in these counties.

In March 2022, Corteva also submitted a label amendment to propose use of Enlist Duo in six Minnesota counties. EPA previously prohibited use in these counties because the Agency expected that the use of Enlist Duo would likely jeopardize the Eastern Massasauga rattle snake exposed on-field. However, EPA’s prior analyses were based on FWS’s 2020 species range maps. EPA subsequently learned that FWS updated their species range map in 2021, which shows that the Eastern Massasauga rattle snake is no longer present in Minnesota. Therefore, EPA has now determined that the prohibition of Enlist Duo in these counties is no longer necessary. In addition, EPA evaluated whether the use of Enlist Duo would affect other off-field listed species that live in these counties. EPA now expects that, given the current mitigations on the product labels, these products will not likely jeopardize listed species or adversely modify critical habitats. The current mitigations will also reduce unintentional harm (i.e., “take”) to individuals of all listed species in these counties.

Regardless of whether Enlist One and Enlist Duo are applied in a county that contains listed species or not, all Enlist One and Enlist Duo applicators — in all 34 states where these products are registered for use — must follow label requirements that reduce pesticide spray drift and runoff. Additionally, it is important to note that Enlist One and Enlist Duo are still prohibited in several counties where EPA identified risks to other on-field listed species during earlier registrations, including prohibitions EPA recently implemented based on the Agency’s 2022 effects determination.

In addition to today’s action, EPA corrected an oversight on the Enlist One and Enlist Duo product labels by removing prohibitions for two counties in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Enlist products are not registered for use in the states of Massachusetts or Rhode Island, and therefore Enlist products remain prohibited in all counties of these states.

Growers Welcome EPA Decision on Enlist, Hope for Continued Progress & Lessons Learned

Grower groups including the American Soybean Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Corn Growers Association, and National Cotton Council welcomed and expressed appreciation for an announcement from EPA that will restore use of Enlist herbicides to many U.S. counties. This label amendment, prompted by new data submitted to EPA, lifts county-level bans on use of Enlist and Enlist Duo in 134 counties across multiple states, including those where the American Burying Beetle is alleged to be present.

Brad Doyle, soy farmer from Arkansas and president of the American Soybean Association, welcomed the announcement, stating, “County-level bans had growers in these areas anxious and frustrated when the announcement came out in January – especially in this market where inputs are scarce and costs are sky high. We appreciate EPA hearing our concerns and working to quickly restore access in many counties where science and data support doing so.”

"On behalf of corn farmers, we would like to thank the EPA for expeditiously reviewing the data and lifting the corresponding restrictions,” said Iowa farmer and National Corn Growers Association President Chris Edgington.

The grower groups hope the Enlist decision has provided EPA a good learning opportunity to instruct future registration decisions. Growers have been very critical of bans affecting entire counties where protected species may be present in only a fraction of the county or potentially not at all, or where conservative methods have overestimated the impact on some species. Announcements of new restrictions just weeks ahead of planting after many growers have already received products has also been stressful to producers. Numerous counties remain under county-level bans following EPA’s latest decision. The groups hope the agency will continue reviewing data that might allow use to be restored in those areas, as well.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall responded, “AFBF is glad EPA is partially stepping back from its decision to restrict critically needed herbicides right before spring planting. It is essential that EPA continue to work with farmers to understand the impacts of its decisions. Products like Enlist enable farmers to utilize environmentally beneficial practices that preserve the soil, minimize fuel use, and capture carbon. We hope EPA is cognizant of timing constraints, supply chain challenges, and the implications of various restrictions in future pesticide decisions.”

Stephen Logan, chairman of the National Cotton Council’s Environmental Task Force and cotton producer from Louisiana, expressed appreciation that EPA continues to refine the science necessary to comply with the ESA and FIFRA mandates, stating, "Many mitigations are already in place, and others—such as reasonable buffers—provide species protection without banning use for the whole county. I hope EPA and the Services continue to refine their decision process and credit farmers for our environmental stewardship actions on our farmlands.”

In January, EPA issued new seven-year registrations for over-the-top use of herbicides Enlist and Enlist Duo on herbicide-tolerant corn, cotton, and soybeans. While the new registrations were welcome and worked for many growers across the country, producers in 217 counties disproportionally concentrated in several states were impacted by county-level bans, risking production in affected counties amidst ongoing supply chain challenges. Grower groups have urged EPA to review additional data that may allow for lifting county-level bans and view today’s announcement as a significant step toward that outcome.

New Cuts and Dishes Introduced to Foodservice Sector in Japan

Although the foodservice sector in Japan has generally struggled through the pandemic, a few restaurant segments are faring well. With yakiniku restaurants growing in popularity and sales, more than 14,000 visitors attended the 2022 Yakiniku Business Fair in Tokyo looking for new ideas in an environment of changing demand and rising costs.

With funding from the Beef Checkoff Program, Texas Beef Council and National Pork Board, USMEF introduced new menu and merchandising ideas to the foodservice sector during the two-day show. With the duty on picnic/cushion meat decreasing in April, USMEF stepped up its promotion of U.S. picnics to the foodservice sector as an alternative cut.

“We are building on previous work in promoting picnics as a value-added cut to foodservice,” says Satoshi Kato, marketing director, USMEF Japan. “For this important show, we highlighted the reduced duty on picnics and we developed new ginger pork and pulled pork dishes for sample tastings and consideration as new menu items.”

To capitalize on the growing consumer demand for takeout and delivery meals, USMEF also unveiled a new “U.S. Beef Take-Out Menu Book” at the show. Funded by the Beef Checkoff, the menu book focuses on value-added menu ideas utilizing 10 cuts of American beef — chuck eye roll, rib eye roll, strip loin, top blade, short plate, outside flat, outside skirt, hanging tender, tongue and large intestine.

USMEF worked with two chefs to create three new recipe ideas for each of the 10 items for the menu book.

“The menu book was very well received at the Yakiniku Business Fair and we are now distributing it to importers and meat processors that have close relationships with foodservice companies,” says Takemichi Yamashoji, USMEF Japan director. “With changes in consumer demand, personnel shortages and rising costs, we see this as an opportunity to present high-value U.S. beef meals as profitable solutions to the foodservice sector.”

USDA Publishes Origin of Livestock Final Rule for Organic Dairy

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published the highly anticipated Origin of Livestock (OOL) final rule for organic dairy. This change to the USDA organic regulations will promote a fairer and more competitive market for all organic dairy producers, by making sure that certified USDA organic dairy products are produced to the same consistent standard.

“This action demonstrates the USDA’s strong commitment to America’s organic dairy farmers,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “The Origin of Livestock final rule provides clear and uniform standards about how and when livestock may be transitioned to organic dairy production, and how transitioned animals are managed within the organic dairy system. Now, all organic dairy livestock producers will have the confidence and certainty they are operating in a fair and competitive market.”

“Consumers of dairy that carry the USDA Certified Organic Seal can trust that those products meet their expectations for how organic dairy products are produced,” said Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “At the same time, the rule announced today also ensures new organic producers have a fair way to enter the market.”

USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) will oversee the new rule, which in general:
    Allows a dairy livestock operation transitioning to organic, or starting a new organic farm, to transition non-organic animals one time.
    Prohibits organic dairies from sourcing any transitioned animals. Once a dairy is certified organic, animals must be managed as organic from the last third of gestation. Variances may be requested by small businesses for specific scenarios.

More information about the Origin of Livestock rule is available at:

NASDA Vice President expresses importance of completing the farm bill and states’ role in federal policymaking

Bruce Kettler, Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture and Second Vice President of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture testified before the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research today. Kettler’s remarks addressed the importance of completing the farm bill, states’ co-regulatory role with the federal government and farmers’ challenges in accessing specialty crop block grants.
Kettler emphasized the necessity of a bipartisan, fully funded 2023 Farm Bill and how certainty for farmers in policy and regulation is key to effective implementation of the bill further down the line.
“It is vital Congress provides certainty by delivering a forward-looking, fully funded farm bill, on time,” Kettler said. “If the pandemic and the recent events unfolding in Ukraine have taught us anything, it is that this farm bill, and all future farm bills are an issue of national security.”
Sharing from NASDA’s unique perspective as the nexus between states and the federal government on agriculture and food policy, Kettler stated that state and federal agencies’ work to “promote economic stability while guaranteeing a safe and accessible food supply” must be a “joint venture.”
He encouraged further cooperation between states and federal agencies and proposed five principles for “cooperative federalism.”
Regarding Specialty Crop Block Grants, Kettler touched on the need for a stronger definition of “specialty crops,” and the challenge smaller farms face in accessing grant money when competing against larger institutes for the same pool of funding.
“One difficulty our team faces every year is answering the question, ‘What is a specialty crop?’” Kettler said.  The current definition is broad and creates confusion on which crops make the cut. Sunflowers are one example.”
He also shared those smaller groups and businesses have the knowledge and ideas that would benefit their local specialty crop industry, but they don’t have the same access to the program.
“We ask that the Committee consider allowing USDA to direct funds to be used for technical assistance for the grant application process, and that the grant parameters be expanded to address the current and future needs of the industry,” Kettler said.
NASDA recommends increasing funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program while ensuring a flexible, locally responsive and state-led program.

Hannah Thompson-Weeman named President and CEO of Animal Agriculture Alliance

The Animal Agriculture Alliance board of directors has announced that Hannah Thompson-Weeman, currently serving as the Alliance’s vice president, strategic engagement, has been named the organization’s new president and CEO. Thompson-Weeman will assume the role on May 1 prior to the departure of longtime president and CEO Kay Johnson Smith later that month to join the staff of Alliance member organization Dairy MAX, one of the leading regional dairy councils in America representing more than 900 dairy farmers and serving communities in eight states.

A picture containing person, wall, indoor Description automatically generatedThompson-Weeman joined the Alliance in 2014 as director of communications and since that time has been promoted to vice president of communications before assuming her current role leading strategic engagement. She has led the Alliance’s issues management, crisis communications, animal rights extremist monitoring and influencer engagement work, as well as played an integral role in connecting with supporters and developing Alliance programs such as the Stakeholders Summit, Animal Ag Allies and College Aggies Online. Thompson-Weeman’s expertise and passion in these areas has made her a sought-after columnist for various publications and speaker for national and even international events, helping to build the Alliance brand. She holds a B.S. in agricultural communication with a minor in agricultural business and an M.S. in agricultural and extension education, both from The Ohio State University.

“Hannah’s history with the Alliance and energy for taking its mission to new heights make her the ideal choice for both a seamless transition and a bright future for the organization,” said Christina Lood, senior director, sustainability and innovation communications, Zoetis, and current Alliance chairperson. “The board of directors offers Kay the deepest gratitude for her nearly 28 years of commitment to the Alliance. The organization would not be what it is today if it weren’t for her pouring limitless time and energy into growing the Alliance’s resources, team and programs. We wish her all the best in her new role and look forward to continuing to engage with her both personally and professionally.”

Johnson Smith is departing the Alliance to join longtime Alliance member Dairy MAX as chief operating officer. A nonprofit organization headquartered in Texas and with operations in Colorado, southwest Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, western Oklahoma, and Wyoming, Dairy MAX is part of a nationwide effort to promote dairy, develop new dairy foods, provide educational information and increase consumption.

“While it is certainly bittersweet to leave the Alliance after so many years, I am looking forward to remaining in the animal agriculture community and continuing to be the Alliance's strongest advocate, now as part of a member organization,” said Johnson Smith. “The Alliance will be in exceptional hands with Hannah leading a strong team with deep roots at the organization. It has truly been an honor to have served the Alliance, our members and the broader animal agriculture community for all these years, and I’m thrilled to be able to continue to do so in a new role going forward.”

Thompson-Weeman will begin her new duties just prior to the Alliance’s 2022 Stakeholders Summit, set for May 11-12 in Kansas City. Both Johnson Smith and Thompson-Weeman’s time at the Alliance and new roles will be celebrated during the Chairperson’s Reception at the event. For more information on the Summit, themed “Come Together for Animal Ag: Be Informed, Be Ready, Be Here,” and how to register, visit