Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Monday April 11 Crop Progress + Ag News


For the week ending April 10, 2022, there were 5.2 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 41% very short, 39% short, 20% adequate, and 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 37% very short, 45% short, 18% adequate, and 0% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 8% very poor, 14% poor, 46% fair, 29% good, and 3% excellent.

Oats planted was 44%, ahead of 37% last year and 28% for the five-year average. Emerged was 6%, near 7% last year and 4% average.


Snow, rain, and cold conditions limited Iowa farmers to 2.0 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending April 10, 2022, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Those who have been able to do any fieldwork have been applying anhydrous and fertilizer, spreading manure and planting oats.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 7 percent very short, 21 percent short, 65 percent adequate and 7 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 11 percent very short, 31 percent short, 56 percent adequate and 2 percent surplus.

Thirteen percent of the expected oat crop has been planted, 5 days behind last year and 2 days behind the 5-year average. There were scattered reports of oats beginning to emerge.

Below normal temperatures meant pastures remained mostly dormant. Livestock conditions were generally good although cold temperatures and moisture have been a challenge for some cattle producers as calving continues.

USDA Crop Progress Report: Corn Planting Remains Steady; Wheat Conditions Improve

U.S. corn planting remained steady in the week ended April 10 at 2%, USDA reported on the weekly Crop Progress report released Monday. This was down from the five-year average of 3% for this time of year.

Five percent of U.S. winter wheat was headed, compared to 4% last week, 5% last year and a 6% five-year average. Winter wheat condition improved to 32% good to excellent as of Sunday, April 10, two percentage points higher than last week, but considerably lower than 53% at same time last year

USDA said 6% of the spring wheat crops were planted as of April 10, 2022, up from the five-year average of 5% for this time.

Sorghum was 14% planted, compared to 13% last week, 14% last year and a 16% five-year average. Oats were 29% planted and 23% emerged, compared to five-year averages of 32% and 25%, respectively, for this time of year. Barley was 11% planted, compared to 5% last week, 12% last year and an 8% five-year average.

U.S. cotton was 7% planted, up from last week's 4%, down from last year's 8% but equal to the five-year average. Rice was 17% planted and 10% emerged, compared to five-year averages of 24% and 12%, respectively.

Sugarbeets were 6% planted, compared to 2% last week, 15% last year and a five-year average of 8%.


– Ben Beckman, NE Extension Educator

Were you expecting more from last year’s alfalfa yields? Did your plants get enough time to winterize in the fall? Did this year’s open winter cause concern about winter kill? Evaluating your alfalfa stand in the spring is key to planning management and setting expectations for this year.

A hay square is a quick and easy way to begin evaluation. While we call it a hay square, square or circle shapes work equally well.  A 17 x 17 inch square or 19 inch in diameter circle are the size we need.

Next, we need to determine what to count. There are two options when evaluating your stand: 1) by the number of plants per square foot (typically recommended for new stands, like plantings last fall) and 2) by the number of stems for established stands. Stem count more accurately predicts yield compared to plant number. However, either method will provide information for making management decisions.

Pick 4 to 5 random areas in your field to sample. Then count the plants or stems that would be harvested, typically anything over 6 inches, to determine your count. Then divide those numbers by 2 to get stems or plants per square foot. For established stands, having 4 to 5 healthy plants per square foot or 55 stems per square foot would warrant a productive and healthy stand. Stem counts below 55 see a significant decrease in dry matter production.

For stands planted last fall, you will see more plants per square foot compared to stems. Remember, a good rule of thumb is, for every pound of seed planted, expect 3 to 5 plants. New plantings that contain fewer than 12 plants per square foot may need to be reseeded.


Commercial specialty crops, like fruits and vegetables, are an important part of Nebraska agriculture, adding variety and value to the state’s ag industry. But these crops can be sensitive to pesticides from neighboring farms. That’s why the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is encouraging growers, beekeepers and pesticide applicators to work together to protect sensitive crops and pollinators from pesticides. Pesticides include all categories of pest control products such as herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.

“Free mapping resources are available online to help pesticide applicators communicate with commercial specialty crop growers and beekeepers throughout the planting and growing season,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman. “Pesticide applicators can review maps online to see where sensitive specialty crops and beehives are located to help protect them from harmful pesticides.”

DriftWatch™ and BeeCheck™ are online mapping services from FieldWatch™ designed for reporting field locations of commercial specialty crops, organic crops and beehives. Included in the FieldWatch registry are commercial apiary sites, vineyards, orchards, fruit and vegetable grow sites, nursery and Christmas tree production sites and certified organic and transitional organic crops.

Online mapping services help satisfy requirements on certain pesticide product labels. Depending on the product, applicators may be required to check the DriftWatch map for specialty crops or beehives, survey the area adjacent to the application site for these crops, and use no-spray buffers or apply another day if the wind is blowing toward a commercial specialty crop.

In Nebraska, 734 growers have registered a total of 2,135 specialty crop and apiary sites in FieldWatch. Those sites are currently found in 82 of Nebraska’s 93 counties and contain more than 125,000 acres of specialty crops. NDA monitors the FieldWatch registries for the state.

Registration is voluntary, free, easy to use and secure. Pesticide applicators can view maps, sign up for free email alerts and get the free FieldCheck™ app, or receive direct data feeds or downloads. In addition, applicators registered in FieldCheck can take advantage of SeedFieldCheck, which allows seed companies to post locations of detasseling operations which helps ag applicators stay in compliance with label directions for worker safety. Approximately 70,000 acres in 700 fields were displayed last year.

This year, FieldWatch will integrate corn and soybeans with various herbicide traits into the DriftWatch mapping system. This will enable row crop producers and pesticide applicators to work together to increase pesticide stewardship.

Information about FieldWatch, FieldCheck, DriftWatch and BeeCheck can be found at https://nda.nebraska.gov/pesticide/fieldwatch.html or by calling NDA Program Specialist Craig Romary at 402-471-2351.

Land Auction Sales Up 130% the Past Six Months

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

The increased sale and auction activity in the land market that we saw during the last quarter of 2021 continued throughout the first quarter of 2022. Not only was there more land sold in the past six months than the previous four years, prices also continued on the strong upward trend the whole time. If a seller wanted to get the best sale price for their land in this quickly up trending period, some type of competitive bidding or auction was the best way to find out what the market was willing to pay at any given time.
The number of auction type land sales increased during the past six months compared to recent years. For Farmers National Company, the number of auctions held increased 65% over last year. The number of acres sold via auctions was up 106% and the dollar value of auction sales was up 130% during the time frame. The number of auction sales for the past six months was almost equivalent to what the company experienced for a whole year during the slower land sales times of the past four years.
Not only were the number of land auctions up the past six months, but sales prices increased dramatically into spring planting time. A recent auction held by Farmers National Company of prime farmland in central Illinois brought $21,500 per acre for 80 acres. Other states and regions also experienced much stronger prices even from just the first of the year.
The busy period of land sales during the fall and winter months has come to a close, but auctions are still being held through April and early summer, albeit at a much slower pace which is the normal pattern. Time will tell if the higher prices will prompt more landowners, mainly estates, trusts, recent inheritors, and some family groups, to sell in the coming months. Time will also determine if the factors supporting land prices will continue for the foreseeable future.

K-State research suggests probiotics may pose risks to animal, human health

New research at Kansas State University reveals how probiotics may not be as beneficial for animal and human health as thought.

Probiotics, in most uses, are organisms considered to be beneficial for gut health in animals and humans.

Raghavendra Amachawadi, assistant professor of food animal therapeutics in the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine, and his team have discovered that a species of bacteria, Enterococcus faecium, which is contained in several commercial products for swine and cattle, can be a source of antibiotic resistance.

Their study, "Whole genome sequence analyses-based assessment of virulence potential and antimicrobial susceptibilities and resistance of Enterococcus faecium strains isolated from commercial swine and cattle probiotic products," was published recently in the Journal of Animal Science.

"Although probiotics are beneficial bacteria, some bacterial species can have unintended negative consequences," Amachawadi said. "Our research has shown that Enterococcus faecium carries genes that confer resistance to antibiotics widely used in human medicine. Feeding such products to animals raises the possibility that the genes can be transferred to pathogenic bacteria and make them resistant to antibiotics, which can be passed on to humans."

At this stage, Amachawadi said, this is only a theoretical possibility and there is no evidence of such transfer actually taking place in the gut and subsequent human exposure.

The objective of the study was to utilize whole genome sequence-based analysis to assess virulence potential, detect antimicrobial resistance genes, and analyze phylogenetic relationships of E. faecium strains from commercial swine and cattle probiotics.

"Because use of antibiotics creates resistance in bacteria, which is a huge public health concern, producers are seeking replacements for antibiotics," Amachawadi said. "Most commercial probiotic products contain live bacteria that benefit the animal by improving the gut bacterial balance."

The findings from this study suggest that, in the future, probiotic products may need to undergo a test for antimicrobial resistance genes before they are marketed for use in food animals.

The study, funded in part by a grant from the National Pork Board, included researchers from the animal sciences and industry and diagnostic medicine and pathobiology departments at K-State, as well as the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition division of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at Laurel, Maryland.

USDA to Host Listening Session on Cattle Contracts Library Pilot Program Development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will host a cattle industry listening session to inform the development of a Cattle Contracts Library Pilot Program. The session will be held on Thursday, April 21, 2022, from 8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. CT. Interested stakeholders can participate virtually or in person at the USDA National Grain Center located at 10383 North Ambassador Drive, Kansas City, Mo. 64153.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 directed AMS to create a Cattle Contracts Library Pilot Program to increase market transparency for cattle producers. This listening session provides an open forum for industry stakeholders to share their feedback and help identify expectations for the Pilot Program. The intent of this session is to hear from industry, and as such there will not be time for a discussion or questions. AMS is specifically interested in insights on the following questions:
    What information should a Cattle Contracts Library include to be most helpful to cattle marketers?
    What concerns do you have with USDA releasing a Cattle Contracts Library?
    What format should be used to present the information contained in a Cattle Contracts Library?

During the session, AMS will provide an overview of the Cattle Contracts Library Pilot Program, then participants will be given an opportunity to provide feedback. Given the short notice and as an extension of this session, AMS will accept written comments through April 28, 2022. Written feedback can be submitted to Wash.LPGMN@usda.gov. All written feedback and a recording of the session will be posted on the AMS website.

This meeting will be held in a federal facility, so in-person attendees must register in advance by sending an email to Wash.LPGMN@usda.gov by Monday, April 18, 2022. Space is limited and each industry association is asked to send only one or two representatives. For virtual attendees, the meeting will be broadcasted live as a webinar. Please register in advance at: https://www.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_QKvnrWIlTNevadyBpFbuTw. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with additional instructions. AMS will closely monitor the COVID-19 Community Level and make any adjustments prior to the meeting following Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance for public meetings. For additional information, contact Michael Sheats, Livestock, Poultry, and Grain Market News Director, at 202-690-3145.


Brenda Boetel, Dept of Agricultural Economics, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

On March 24, 2022 the US and Japan reached an agreement to increase the three-trigger safeguard mechanism required prior to Japan implementing a higher tariff on US beef. The new three-trigger, as opposed to one, safeguard mechanism will reduce the probability that Japan will impose higher tariffs, thereby limiting access to Japanese markets for US beef producers. Although not signed, the agreement is good news for beef producers as it continues to improve accessibility to valuable markets.

Foreign markets are an essential demand market for beef producers, as well as pork and poultry producers. In 2021, the US exported 925,127 metric tons of chilled and frozen muscle cuts of beef. The US exported 12.3% of total beef and veal production in 2021, up 1.5% over 2021. Global sales of beef and beef products was valued at over $10 billion in 2021, with Japan being one of the largest exports markets and taking $2.4 billion in 2021.

Beef trade has been supportive of beef prices. With declining beef production and increased prices, 2022 will likely see a contraction of about 4% year over year in exports. Although exports will be lower, they are still historically high and continue to be a supportive factor for cattle prices. The bigger trade concern currently for cattle is the indirect effects from decreased trade opportunities for poultry dues to highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and the decreased export potential for pork due to lower imports from China.

Unlike the 2014/2015 HPAI outbreak, which resulted in substantially lower exports of US poultry products due to the decrease in supply of poultry productions and the trade restrictions imposed by over 50 countries, the impact on poultry trade thus far has been lower. In 2015, layers accounted for the large majority of lost birds, totaling about 12% of table-laying chicken inventory. Turkeys grown for meat were also largely affected. Losses of broiler chickens were less than 0.01% of their inventory. In 2015, the US saw an almost 14% decline in the export level of broilers and a decline in retail price for broilers of almost 4%. Given the increased supply available in the US and the lower price, US poultry consumption increased by almost 7% in 2015.

Trade data has a two-month delay. As of February 2022, broiler exports were up 1.7%; however, the first case of HPAI was in February. Limitations on exports will be different in 2022 as now only exports from a defined region that pose a risk of spreading the disease can be limited. If HPAI continues to expand though the impact on trade will grow and hence the potential to impact beef prices will continue to increase.

Beef is the highest priced animal protein in the US and given the expected decline in production due to lower number and continued strong trade, we will likely see continued increased in retail beef prices. Additional supplies of poultry or pork on US grocery shelves will put downward pressure on those prices and will eventually transfer to cattle prices.

NCBA Renews Call for Suspension of Brazilian Beef Imports

Following today’s USDA report highlighting an increase in Brazilian beef imports, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) renewed its call for the immediate suspension of fresh beef imports from Brazil. NCBA has repeatedly called for a thorough audit of Brazil’s animal health and food safety system, to ensure the safety of the U.S. cattle herd. In 2021, Brazilian exports to the United States increased by 131 percent. In the first three months of 2022, Brazil has already shipped more than 50,000 metric tons of fresh beef to the U.S.
This unprecedented surge of imports triggered a temporary tariff safeguard of 26.4 percent that will apply to Brazilian beef imports for the rest of 2022. While a temporary tariff increase may discourage further imports from Brazil, it does not address the underlying concern over Brazil’s repeated failure to adhere to international animal health and food safety standards.
“We are, once again, calling on Secretary Vilsack to suspend fresh beef imports from Brazil, because of that country’s long history of failing to report BSE cases in a timely manner. It’s incredibly disappointing to have our science-based recommendations met with no notable response by the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane. “As beef imports from Brazil continue to rise, we urge USDA to reconsider their stance on Brazilian beef and take necessary action to safeguard the integrity of the entire U.S. food supply chain.”
NCBA believes that restricting Brazilian imports all altogether is essential until Brazil proves it is a trustworthy and reliable trade partner, capable of adhering to our standards.  

Only 12 percent of beef consumed in America is imported, and nearly 75 percent of beef imports are lean beef trimmings used in combination with fattier trimming to make ground beef. The majority of imported beef comes from countries that have formalized trade agreements with the United States or who have specific import quotas. All other beef imports are sold under the “Other Countries” annual quota of 65,000 metric tons. Beef sold under the “Other Countries” quota is a charged a rate of 4.4 cents per kilogram, and beef sold over the quota is charged a 26.4 percent tariff.
According to the latest U.S. Customs and Border Protection report, the “Other Countries” quota is full, resulting in a tariff increase on beef imports from Brazil, Japan, Ireland, Lithuania, and the United Kingdom for the remainder of 2022. A majority of the quota was met due to the 50,000 metric tons of fresh beef imports from Brazil to the United States in the first quarter of 2022.

RFA Campaign Amplifies Push for Year-Round E15

A new campaign by the Renewable Fuels Association encourages consumers to call on their elected officials for immediate action to allow the continued sale of E15—the lowest-cost, lowest-carbon fuel available at the pump—throughout the summer. Due to a lawsuit filed by oil refiners, retail stations in most of the country will be forced to stop selling E15 on June 1. But swift action by the Biden administration would ensure consumers continue to have access to E15 throughout the summer.

Starting today, RFA is sponsoring advertisements that will run on hundreds of radio stations in 19 states, with a focus on the Midwest. The ads encourage listeners to contact their lawmakers and the Biden administration to urge immediate action to allow for continued sales of E15. RFA’s multidimensional effort also includes digital ads in Morning Consult’s Washington and Energy newsletters, which are read daily by policymakers and influencers inside the Beltway. In addition, RFA has anchored a countdown to June 1 on its website home page, linking to the call to action and more information on the savings to consumers and the importance to energy security that year-round E15 provides.

“As American families continue to struggle with high gas prices, there’s a simple solution that can immediately relieve their pain at the pump: increasing the availability of renewable fuels and allowing year-round sales of lower-cost E15,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “More ethanol means more savings at the pump, as ethanol has recently been selling for nearly $1 per gallon less than wholesale gasoline. As war in Ukraine continues to roil global energy markets, we need to strengthen our nation’s energy security, and expanding the use of low-carbon renewable fuels like ethanol is the right move at the right time. We are pleased to hear the Biden administration is considering options to allow expanded E15 sales, and we remain hopeful that this issue can be resolved before the start of summer.”

The E15 blend has typically been priced 15-25 cents per gallon less than regular gasoline (E10), with the savings reaching as much as 50 cents per gallon in some cases, according to e85prices.com. To show ethanol’s cost-saving benefits, a new social media campaign launched by RFA encourages drivers to post images of gas pumps showing E15 savings on Twitter. Drivers posting these photos are entered into a weekly drawing for a $50 gas card.

Expanding the availability of renewable fuels like ethanol—and E15 in particular—is very popular among consumers who are concerned about high gas prices and energy insecurity, Cooper said. In late March, RFA conducted a survey with Morning Consult, reaching more than 2,000 registered voters nationwide. The survey found that more than four out of five voters wanted to see more renewable fuel production and nearly three in four voters support increasing sales of the E15 ethanol blend.

 Growth Energy Calls on Surface Transportation Board to Address Disruptions in Rail Supply Chain

Late last week, Growth Energy sent a letter to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to voice concerns over the significant service delays – such as empty car arrivals and extreme delays in manifest and unit train traffic - in the rail supply chain impacting the biofuel industry. Growth Energy, whose members ship nearly 70 percent of ethanol by rail to key distribution points throughout North America, explains that this disruption affects not only business but American drivers as it can ultimately result in less biofuel blending.

“While we certainly understand that a variety of factors have contributed to these rail disruptions, it is imperative that all possible actions be taken by the nation’s railroads to ensure that these critical fuel supplies are immediately prioritized and reach markets as quickly as possible,” wrote Growth Energy. “Further delays could not only impact our industry but could ultimately increase fuel costs for American drivers.

“With ethanol trading 80 cents to a dollar per gallon less than wholesale gasoline, it is essential that ethanol reach its destination to benefit American drivers facing high gasoline prices.”

USDA Seeks Nominees for the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is seeking nominees for one producer position and one expert in finance and management to serve three-year terms on the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center Board of Directors. Nominations are due June 1, 2022.

USDA selects appointees from candidates nominated by Certified Nominating Organizations (CNO). A CNO is any certified national organization with a principal interest in the production of sheep in the United States and whose membership consists primarily of active domestic sheep producers.

The Center’s board of directors is comprised seven voting members and two non-voting members. Voting members include four active U.S. sheep producers, two members with expertise in finance and management and one member with expertise in lamb or wool product marketing. Non-voting members include USDA’s Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics.

The Sheep Industry Improvement Center was established as part of the 2008 Farm Bill and administers a grant program designed to improve the competitiveness of the U.S. sheep industry by strengthening and enhancing the production and marketing of sheep and sheep products.

North American Ag Tractor, Combine Sales Make First Decline Since July 2021

Tractor sowing the field in springAg tractor and combine unit sales had their first decline since July 2021, according to the latest data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).

U.S. total farm tractor sales fell 21.1 percent for the month of March compared to 2021, while U.S. self-propelled combine sales for the month dropped 10.2 percent to 343 units sold. The 100+ horsepower 2WD segment was the lone growth sector in the U.S. market, up 7 percent, while mid-range tractors between 40 and 100 horsepower fell 14.1 percent, and the sub-40hp segment led losses, down 25.5 percent. 4WD tractors were nearly flat for the second month in a row, dipping down just 2 percent, or four fewer units sold for the month. Total farm tractor sales are now down 7.9 percent year-to-date, while combines are down 19.2 percent for the same.

In Canada, unit sales fell in all segments for a 5.1 percent decline in total farm tractor sales, led by 4WD units, down 43.3 percent, however, total 2WD unit sales were down in every segment, but down only 3.7 percent overall. Combine harvesters were down as well in Canada, falling 36.8 percent to 60 units sold. Year-to-date farm tractor unit sales are down a slight 0.7 percent in Canada, while harvesters are down 36.2 percent.

“This is a sales report we expected,” said Curt Blades, senior vice president, industry sectors & product leadership at the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. “Inventory levels are down more than 10 percent in both the U.S. and Canada, and this is the result of supply chain difficulties catching up with this segment of the manufacturing industry.”

C Is for Care Shares Special Moments on Farms and Ranches

Zoetis celebrates the special bond between humans and cattle with a collaboration on a children’s book from Ag Storytellers that is written by Amanda Radke and illustrated by Michelle Weber. C is for Care features the special care for beef and dairy animals in an A-to-Z format that is sure to capture the imaginations of children of all ages. This is the most recent agriculturally focused children’s book from Ag Storytellers.

"We know the relationship between humans and cattle is two-way; our customers care and provide for animals so the animals can provide for us," said Becky Lambert, Vice President, U.S. Cattle Marketing for Zoetis. "There's tremendous value in helping educate the next generation of consumers on the responsible care that beef and dairy producers provide to their animals every day."

For Radke and Weber, this book fits in with the type of story they are passionate to share. “As cattle producers ourselves, we want to share the positive story of animal production agriculture,” Radke said. “This project helps us tell the story of cattle care with young children and their families, so future generations can appreciate the love and dedication that U.S. beef and dairy producers put into raising healthy animals.”

The A-to-Z journey shares the many special moments of care that animals receive from cattle producers and veterinarians every day on America’s farms and ranches. The book is now available on the Ag Storytellers site at  https://agstorytellers.myshopify.com/pages/our-library.

Statement from the Office of U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

Over the weekend, after experiencing mild symptoms, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tested positive for COVID. He is fully vaccinated and boosted. He is sharing the news of his positive COVID test out of an abundance of transparency.

The Secretary’s office is conducting contact tracing and is notifying those with whom he may have been a close contact in accordance with CDC guidance.

From Monday, April 4, to Tuesday, April 5, the Secretary met with Mexican officials while on official travel. The Secretary tested negative at the time of his departure and after his return. Out of an abundance of caution, the Mexican government has been informed of this positive test.

Secretary Vilsack will isolate in accordance with CDC guidelines and will return to the office after testing negative for the virus. During that time, he will continue his official duties.

H-2B Visas Increased Again

The Department of Homeland Security announced an additional 35,000 H-2B visas for the second half of fiscal 2022 to address the country’s ongoing labor shortage.

The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire workers for non-agricultural labor or services, including meatpacking.

The allocation consists of 23,500 visas for returning workers who received an H-2B visa or were granted H-2B status during one of the past three fiscal years.

The other 11,500 visas, which are exempt from the returning worker requirement, are for workers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras.

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