Friday, April 1, 2022

Thursday March 31 Prospective Plantings, Grain Stocks + Ag News

Corn Planted Acreage Down 4 Percent from 2021
Soybean Acreage Up 4 Percent
All Wheat Acreage Up 1 Percent
All Cotton Acreage Up 9 Percent

Corn planted area for all purposes in 2022 is estimated at 89.5 million acres, down 4 percent or 3.87 million acres from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage is expected to be down or unchanged in 43 of the 48 estimating States.

Soybean planted area for 2022 is estimated at a record 91.0 million acres, up 4 percent from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage is up or unchanged in 24 of the 29 estimating States.

All wheat planted area for 2022 is estimated at 47.4 million acres, up 1 percent from 2021. If realized, this represents the fifth lowest all wheat planted area since records began in 1919. The 2022 winter wheat planted area, at 34.2 million acres, is up 2 percent from last year but down less than 1 percent from the previous estimate. Of this total, about 23.7 million acres are Hard Red Winter, 6.89 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.62 million acres are White Winter. Area expected to be planted to other spring wheat for 2022 is estimated at 11.2 million acres, down 2 percent from 2021. Of this total, about 10.5 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. Durum planted area for 2022 is expected to total 1.92 million acres, up 17 percent from the previous year.

All cotton planted area for 2022 is estimated at 12.2 million acres, up 9 percent from last year. Upland area is estimated at 12.1 million acres, up 9 percent from 2021. American Pima area is estimated at 176,000 acres, up 39 percent from 2021.


Nebraska corn growers intend to plant 9.70 million acres this year, down 2% from 2021, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Soybean planted acreage is expected to be 5.70 million acres, up 2% from last year and tying the 2017 record if realized.

All hay acreage to be harvested is expected to total 2.55 million acres, down slightly from 2021.

Winter wheat acres seeded in the fall of 2021 are estimated at 980,000 acres, up 7% from last year.

Sorghum growers in Nebraska intend to plant 275,000 acres, down 14% from a year ago.

Oat intentions are estimated at 120,000 acres, unchanged from last year.

Dry edible bean acreage intentions are estimated at 105,000 acres, down 12% from 2021.

Sugarbeet growers expect to plant 45,000 acres, up 1% from last year.

Sunflower producers expect to plant 38,000 acres, down 8% from 2021. Oil varieties account for 33,000 acres, down 6% from a year ago. Non-oil varieties made up the balance of 5,000 acres, down 23% from the previous year.

Dry edible pea acreage intentions are estimated at 27,000 acres, down 7% from last year.

Estimates in this report are based on a survey conducted during the first two weeks of March.


Iowa farmers intend to plant 12.6 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2022 according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Prospective Plantings report. This is down 300,000 acres from 2021. Producers intend to plant 10.4 million acres of soybeans in Iowa this year. This is 300,000 acres higher than 2021. Iowa farmers intend to plant 150,000 acres of oats for all purposes. This is up 20,000 acres from last year. Farmers in Iowa expect to harvest 1.26 million acres of all dry hay for the 2022 crop year. This is unchanged from last year.

Corn Stocks Up 2 Percent from March 2021

Soybean Stocks Up 24 Percent
All Wheat Stocks Down 22 Percent

Corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2022 totaled 7.85 billion bushels, up 2 percent from March 1, 2021. Of the total stocks, 4.08 billion bushels were stored on farms, up 1 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 3.77 billion bushels, are up 3 percent from a year ago. The December 2021 - February 2022 indicated disappearance is 3.79 billion bushels, compared with 3.60 billion bushels during the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions on March 1, 2022 totaled 1.93 billion bushels, up 24 percent from March 1, 2021. Soybean stocks stored on farms are estimated at 750 million bushels, up 26 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 1.18 billion bushels, are up 22 percent from last March. Indicated disappearance for the December 2021 - February 2022 quarter totaled 1.22 billion bushels, down 12 percent from the same period a year earlier.

All wheat stored in all positions on March 1, 2022 totaled 1.02 billion bushels, down 22 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 174 million bushels, down 39 percent from last March. Off-farm stocks, at 850 million bushels, are down 17 percent from a year ago. The December 2021 - February 2022 indicated disappearance is 353 million bushels, 10 percent below the same period a year earlier.

Grain sorghum stored in all positions on March 1, 2022 totaled 207 million bushels, up 51 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 11.9 million bushels, are up 119 percent from last March. Off-farm stocks, at 195 million bushels, are up 49 percent from a year earlier. The December 2021 - February 2022 indicated disappearance from all positions is 82.6 million bushels, slightly below the same period last year.


Nebraska corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2022 totaled 963 million bushels, up 5% from 2021, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Of the total, 510 million bushels are stored on farms, up 11% from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 453 million bushels, are down slightly from last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions totaled 152 million bushels, up 38% from last year. On-farm stocks of 34.0 million bushels are up 48% from a year ago, and off-farm stocks, at 118 million bushels, are up 35% from 2021.

Wheat stored in all positions totaled 26.1 million bushels, down 27% from a year ago. On-farm stocks of 1.20 million bushels are down 25% from 2021, and off-farm stocks of 24.9 million bushels are down 27% from last year.

Sorghum stored in all positions totaled 8.22 million bushels, up 64% from 2021. On-farm stocks of 250,000 bushels are down 44% from a year ago but off-farm holdings of 7.97 million bushels are up 75% from last year.

Oats stored on-farm of 410,000 bushels are up 17% from 2021.

Barley off-farm stocks totaled 199,000 bushels, up 37% from 2021.


Corn stored in all positions in Iowa on March 1, 2022, totaled 1.44 billion bushels, up 4 percent from March 1, 2021, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Grain Stocks report. Of the total stocks, 53 percent were stored on-farm. The December-February 2022 indicated disappearance totaled 635 million bushels, 31 percent above the 483 million bushels from the same quarter the previous year.

Soybeans stored in all positions in Iowa on March 1, 2022, totaled 378 million bushels, up 48 percent from March 1, 2021. Of the total stocks, 37 percent were stored on-farm. Indicated disappearance for December-February 2022 was 154 million bushels, 2 percent above the 151 million bushels from the same quarter the previous year.

 Komet Irrigation Welcomes Tyler Novotny as North Central Technical Sales Manager

Komet Irrigation, a global leader in water application equipment for mechanized irrigation systems, recently welcomed Tyler Novotny to the Komet Irrigation Corp., USA & Canada team as a technical sales manager for the North Central region.

An experienced designer of center pivot sprinkler packages with fabrication and retrofitting expertise, Novotny brings a wealth of irrigation knowledge and strong agriculture background to his new role.

“We are excited to welcome Tyler and expand our technical sales team to support our growing dealer and grower customer base,” says Josh Mosier, general manager and technical sales director of Komet Irrigation Corp., USA & Canada. “Not only does Tyler bring the skills to translate the technical aspects of building an effective irrigation sprinkler package, he also has the passion and in-field experience needed to support dealers and growers in all areas related to water application, irrigation training and service.” His territory includes Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, northern Kansas and southeast Wyoming.

In addition to providing customer service and support across the entire Komet Irrigation product line, Novotny will help present local in-person and online Komet Academy seminars, a series of comprehensive, informal sessions covering topics on mechanized irrigation.

“In today’s high-tech irrigation industry, it can be easy to become distracted by the latest sensors or GPS systems and lose sight of the core irrigation system principles of maintaining consistent and uniform water application in the field,” says Novotny. “I’m looking forward to building relationships with dealers and growers and working with them side by side to provide innovative irrigation solutions.”

Novotny joins Komet Irrigation after working with a local dealer as a service technician lead. He also spent a decade working in fabrication, dealer support and retro sprinkler design roles with a leading center pivot irrigation manufacturer.

“I have been fortunate to build a career that ranges the full gamut of mechanized irrigation, including a farming background that allowed me to be on the ground floor and see the benefits of Komet Irrigation’s sprinkler products first-hand,” adds Novotny. “I have always been impressed by Komet’s precision engineering, and I’m eager to approach my new role with that same attention to detail.”  

Komet Irrigation is a family-owned company with global reach committed to finding innovative solutions that improve agricultural irrigation. Backed by a strong team of experts and state-of-the-art production facilities, Komet specializes in the design and manufacturing of mechanized irrigation products and bridging the gap between growers and technology. Learn more at


USDA Encourages Producers to Enroll Grasslands into Special Conservation Reserve Program Signup

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 John Berge, FSA state executive director in Nebraska. “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.

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,” Berge 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). Nebraska has the Platte-Republican Resources Area CREP and the Migratory Birds, Butterflies and Pollinators SAFE, both of which currently are open for enrollment. 

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.

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   

Growth Energy Applauds Bipartisan Letter to Biden Administration on E15, RVOs

Today, 29 members of the U.S. House of Representatives – led by Reps. Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Adrian Smith (R-NE), Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), and Dusty Johnson (R-SD) – sent a letter to President Biden calling on him to prioritize homegrown and renewable biofuels in order to increase U.S. energy independence and lower prices at the pump. Specifically, the Members are urging President Biden to both immediately reinstate the year-round availability of E15 through an emergency waiver and reverse the lowering of the 2020 and 2021 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs). Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor released the following statement applauding the letter:

“The message on both sides of the aisle remains loud and clear: to immediately offer relief at the pump and move toward a more secure energy sector, the Biden Administration must increase access to homegrown, low-carbon biofuels,” said Skor. “As gas prices hit their peak, higher blends of biofuels like E15 were selling for more than 50 cents cheaper per gallon at the pump in some areas of the country. Increasing access to lower-cost biofuels, through year-round E15 and robust RVOs, would offer these savings to more drivers and reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil.”

In early March, Growth Energy, along with other farm and biofuel organizations, wrote to President Biden urging his administration to use existing authority to allow for the year-round sale of E15. Growth Energy has also supported the Home Front Energy Independence Act, legislation that would immediately allow the year-round sale of E15, and recently launched an ad campaign in Washington, D.C. urging President Biden’s EPA turn to biofuels to lower gas prices.  

IRFA Urges President Biden to Include E15 in Plan to Reduce Fuel Prices

Today President Biden announced his plan to lower prices at the pump across the country. Recent international conflict has pushed gas prices to record levels. In the plan released toady, the President did not include using the EPA’s emergency authority to lift summertime restrictions on E15, a fuel blend currently selling for 10 to 30 cents less per gallon than E10 in Iowa. Without EPA action, E15 will not be sold after June 1 in roughly 60 percent of the country, including Iowa.
In response to today’s announcement, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw made the following statement:
“We are disappointed President Biden failed to include American biofuels in his plan to reduce fuel prices. Lifting restrictions on E15 this summer would be a win for consumers, farmers, and American energy security. We strongly urge the President to take immediate action to include this step in his plan. There is still time to act.”

RFA Thanks House Members for Supporting E15 Ethanol Blend as Alternative to Russian Imports

The Renewable Fuels Association today thanked a bipartisan group of 29 members of the House of Representatives, led by Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN), for urging President Biden to quickly authorize year-round sales of the 15 percent ethanol blend (E15) and to not reduce renewable volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“We thank Rep. Craig and the rest of these House members for encouraging President Biden to embrace domestic renewable fuels as a lower-cost, lower-carbon alternative to Russian oil imports,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “E15 is typically selling for 20-30 cents per gallon less than regular gasoline right now; and as revealed by a new nationwide survey, three out of four voters support increasing the availability of E15 as a strategy for reducing pump prices and providing relief to American families. If the Biden administration fails to act on the straightforward request made by these representatives, the lowest-cost fuel available at the pump today will disappear on June 1 and drivers will face another unnecessary price hike.”

Led by Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN), the group calls on the president to take two actions:
    Reinstate the year-round availability of E15 by directing the Environmental Protection Agency to use its authority under the Clean Air Act, or by taking executive action to respond to a potential energy crisis “triggered by Russian aggression on the international stage.”
    Direct the EPA to reverse its course on the proposed retroactive reduction to 2020 and 2021 renewable volume obligations and adhere to the Renewable Fuel Standard’s statutory obligations.

“The American people and this Congress stand united in our resolve to support the Ukrainian people in the face of Russian aggression and imperialism,” the House members write. “We will take the actions necessary to ensure democracy in Ukraine endures. Increasing domestic energy production is an important part of our effort to sustain sanctions on the Russian economy, and we urge you to increase U.S. energy independence and decrease inflationary pressures at the pump by directing the EPA to ensure the uninterrupted year-round sales of E15 and to protect the integrity of the RFS.”

In a similar letter on March 9, a bipartisan group of 16 senators urged President Biden to take action on year-round E15, calling it “a foundational way to leverage the strength of American agriculture to provide energy security for consumers.” A few days prior to this, on March 4, RFA led an industry letter to President Biden, urging his administration to use existing authority to allow for the year-round sale of E15 fuel.

 U.S. Farm & Biofuel Leaders Press White House to Unlock Greater Fuel Savings

America’s top biofuel and farm advocates urged President Biden to swiftly expand access to plentiful, lower-cost biofuels after the White House announced a far more narrow set of proposals to address skyrocketing fuel costs. Specifically, renewable energy advocates reiterated their call for the White House to swiftly allow for the year-round sale of gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol (E15), a lower-cost fuel option that could vanish from many markets on June 1 under seasonal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restrictions. The following joint statement was issued by the Advanced Biofuels Business Council, Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and Renewable Fuels Association:

“The White House is actively considering an E15 fix to deliver relief at the pump, but today’s announcement made no mention of homegrown fuels. It was just another stop-gap release of oil reserves and a promise of more mineral extraction down the road. The clock is ticking, and failure to protect E15 from summer fuel restrictions threatens to take away a popular, money-saving option at the pump in 30 states. If action isn’t taken by the administration, those drivers will see their gas prices spike overnight. There’s a record surplus of lower-cost, domestic biofuels ready to more than fill the void left by Russian oil. E15 has already been helping some drivers save more than 30 cents a gallon. Given the steady discount on ethanol against unblended gasoline, biofuels are a source of energy security and savings the White House cannot afford to ignore. Just today, another bipartisan band of lawmakers called on President Biden to waive outdated and senseless restrictions on the sale of homegrown ethanol, reflecting a growing chorus of leaders concerned about the fast-approaching regulatory cliff on gas prices. The time to act is now.”

American Voters Support Expanded E15 Use to Address High Pump Prices

Three in four American voters support expanding the availability of E15 as a way to replace petroleum imports from Russia, and more than 80 percent support increasing domestic renewable fuel production as a way to lower record-high gas prices, according to a recent nationwide survey conducted by Morning Consult.

With national average gas prices hovering above $4 per gallon, 83 percent of the registered voters surveyed said they support increasing the domestic production of renewable fuels like ethanol as a way to bring down fuel prices, with 52 percent saying they “strongly support” such action. Since the beginning of March, ethanol prices have been nearly $1 per gallon lower than gasoline prices at wholesale terminals where gasoline is blended. Accordingly, blending higher levels of ethanol into gasoline brings down the price of the fuel sold to consumers at the pump.

Meanwhile, 72 percent of the survey respondents said they support increasing the availability of E15 as a way to replace oil imports from Russia. If E15 replaced just 30 percent of the E10 currently being sold in the United States, the nation could entirely replace the amount of gasoline supplied annually from Russian petroleum imports.

“These results shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, as E15 and other higher-ethanol blends are the lowest-cost fuels available anywhere in the market today,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “But unless the Biden administration acts immediately to allow summertime sales of E15, the cheapest fuel available at the pump will disappear on June 1 and Americans will be faced with another price hike. As this survey clearly shows, voters understand that using more American-made ethanol can immediately help bring pump prices down and enhance our nation’s energy security. At the same time, higher blends of ethanol reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tailpipe pollutants linked to cancer, heart disease, respiratory illness, and other health concerns.”

Voters also expressed support for increasing the production of flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs), which can run on fuel containing up to 85 percent ethanol (E85), with 69 percent saying it is important for the U.S. government to incentivize automakers to increase FFV output. Flex fuels like E85 are currently selling at a 30-50 percent discount to regular gasoline, providing FFV drivers with an incredible opportunity to save money at the pump.

The poll showed that voters prefer increased domestic renewable fuel use to lower pump prices over increased domestic production or importation of crude oil. In fact, more than half of the survey respondents who expressed an opinion opposed increasing crude oil imports to lower pump prices.

“The implications of this polling data are clear: voters across the country want our nation’s leaders to act immediately to increase the production and use of low-cost, low-carbon renewable fuels like ethanol to bring down pump prices and help the environment,” Cooper said.

Finally, the Morning Consult survey showed that two-thirds of voters support the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires renewable fuels to comprise an increasing share of the nation’s fuel supply each year.

Think Safety First When Working near Grain Bins

Unloading grain bins and delivering corn to local elevators, feed mills and ethanol plants has been in full swing for several weeks across the Midwest. In this article, Dirk Maier, professor of agriculture and biosystems engineering with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, provides some basic safety guidance.

Ideally, corn will gravity flow into the center floor outlet (sump), is transferred with an under-floor conveyor out of the bin and from there to another conveyor that fills a truck or to an overhead load-out bin to gravity-fill a truck.

A typical grain bin will unload as “last-corn in, first-corn out.” The only grain moving when the center floor outlet is opened is about a two-foot diameter core of corn that is supplied from the grain surface. All grain outside this small diameter core of flowing corn is at rest until the inverted cone reaches the center well and gravity-flow stops.

Gravity-flow also stops any time during unloading when a chunk of spoiled grain reaches the floor outlet and plugs it.

Given that most spoilage occurs during storage because corn was left peaked and uncored after bin filling, surface crusting and peak hardening are the primary reasons that chunks of corn plug floor outlets.

“This is why when someone starts a bin unloading effort, plugging of a floor outlet will occur soon after,” said Maier. “This results in maximum danger when someone enters a grain bin to attempt to unplug a floor outlet by running a long rod down the center to break up that chunk while leaving the unloading conveying system running.”

As soon as the chunk breaks up and gravity flow commences, the person will be engulfed in seconds and sucked to the bottom of the bin at the flow rate of the unloading system, and with the maximum amount of grain on top of them.

Sadly, such incidents keep occurring, especially this time of year when grain bins are commonly unloaded and grain is delivered to market. In Iowa, an incident occurred just last week when a person lost their life after reportedly being engulfed by grain inside a 20,000 bushel capacity bin.

Two additional grain entrapment incidents reportedly occurred in Indiana during March, that fortunately resulted in the rescue of both individuals. These types of incidents can be tragic; however, they are completely avoidable.

Every grain bin sold and installed in the United States carries a "danger label," which clearly states the dangers associated with entering a grain bin and the steps recommended if someone must enter a bin.  

Given the fact that crusted grain occurs on top of the grain mass, it stands to reason that the time to check whether grain crusting has occurred and to attempt to break it up is before unloading of the bin is started. If grain has been removed below a surface crust, do not enter that bin, as your weight will likely collapse the crust, burying and suffocating you.

Therefore, in terms of Step 1, do not turn on unloading equipment before first checking whether grain in the bin has a crusted surface or has a hardened peak due to spoilage. This is the best time to attempt to break up corn that has molded into a thicker layer before it breaks into chunks during gravity-flow and ends up plugging the floor outlet. This avoids exposing yourself or an employee to the dangers from flowing grain, which can entrap and suffocate.

There are devices available that aim to prevent gravity-flow from stopping in a case where chunks of grain reach the floor outlet. They utilize the power of the flow to break up the chunks across the metal grate placed over the floor outlet or fastened to the floor sweep conveyor. Consider installing these if you often have grain spoiling in your bins.

The best practice to prevent unloading issues is to avoid grain spoilage to begin with. The knowledge, practices and tools to achieve that goal exist.

Meetings With Government, Industry Officials Take Place In First Visit To Japan In More Than Two Years

For the first time in more than two years, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) leaders visited Tokyo to meet with the organization’s staff there. Through programming and maintaining customer relationships in Japan, the Council’s in-country staff have continued to show their dedication to promoting the quality and benefits of U.S. feed grains in all forms in Japan.

“It was great to be in Japan meeting with our staff there face-to-face,” said USGC President and CEO Ryan LeGrand. “They are vital in maintaining and building new relationships with buyers of U.S. grains and co-products in that important market.”

While in Japan, LeGrand and Cary Sifferath, USGC senior director of global programs, had the opportunity to meet with government and industry representatives, discussing the five commodities represented by the Council and the country’s continued support of their uses.

Ethanol was a major topic of discussion, as the group met with several organizations and country leaders, including Ambassador Rahm Emanuel, on the potential for its expanded use in Japan.

Imports of ethanol to Japan are in the form of ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE), and the U.S. has market share following a change in Japan’s policy in 2018. The Council estimates U.S. ethanol totaled about 90 million gallons included in ETBE exports to the Japanese market during the 2020/2021 marketing year.

Commodities including corn, sorghum and barley were also discussed in meetings with the Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

By maintaining partnerships with governments and organizations around the world, the Council can continue building on its mission of developing markets, enabling trade and improving lives.

Japan ranks as the fourth-largest export market for U.S. coarse grains, co-products, ethanol and meat products so far in the 2021/2022 marketing year, purchasing 4,502,874 metric tons.

Two New Cattle Market Studies Validate Ranch Group’s Call for Meaningful Congressional Action

Today, R-CALF USA is calling on Congress to cease consideration of the Cattle Market Price Discovery and Transparency Bill of 2022 (modified compromise bill) that was drafted without the benefit of two new cattle market studies. The ranch group says the new studies contain monumental findings that suggest Congress must do much more to reform the fundamentally broken cattle market than is contemplated in the modified compromise bill.  

Yesterday, a summary of a developing research project that explores the pricing behavior of beef packers in the United States was issued by economists from Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, Georgetown University, and Ohio State University. The summary, Buyer Power in the Beef Packing Industry: An Update on Research in Progress, focuses on the potential cause for the unprecedented “packer spread” – the spread between live cattle prices and wholesale beef prices – manifest from 2015 through 2019.

According to R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard the increased packer spread referenced in the summary is associated with depressed cattle prices paid to America’s cattle farmers and ranchers and inflated beef prices paid by consumers.   

The reason for this increased packer spread, as thus far revealed by the research, may be the beef packers’ exercise of buyer power in the fed cattle market made possible by the packers’ use of alternative marketing arrangements (AMAs) that now predominate the U.S. cattle market.

The researchers’ analysis to date has found that “a one percent increase (of) the fraction of cattle purchased under AMAs is associated with a 5.9% reduction in the cash market price.”

As a preliminary recommendation for policy makers, the researchers state: “As a matter of economic theory, our research suggests that eliminating AMAs or increasing competition among packers—for example by barring multi-plant ownership—could better align the price of fed cattle with the economic value that is provided by feedlots and other upstream participants.”

Their research also demonstrates that the five regional cattle procurement regions established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for purposes of reporting cattle prices “should not be interpreted as economically independent geographic areas.” Bullard pointed out that the modified compromise bill is predicated on this erroneous interpretation.

A second independent economic analysis was also issued recently by researchers at the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University, titled, Multi-plant Coordination in the US Beef Packing Industry. This analysis focuses on the contribution that multi-plant ownership has made to the increased packer spread observed in recent years.

The researchers found that prior to about 2005 (when the volume of cattle procured in the competitive cash market was over 60%), the largest packers that owned multiple packing plants nevertheless operated each plant as an independent profit center. But sometime after 2005, the largest packers began coordinating procurement and slaughter activities across their plants. The researchers explain that “it is as if more than 20 separate economic agents suddenly consolidated into four.”

And the researchers assert that it is this movement toward multi-plant coordination, along with its close relationship to other factors such as transportation costs and the largest packers’ use of AMAs, that lead to wider packer spreads. Their research shows that “beef packers employing multi-plant coordination leads to wider spreads between downstream beef prices and upstream fed cattle prices.”

“These comprehensive analyses are earthshattering for the cattle industry,” Bullard said adding, “They contradict earlier studies used by conventional agricultural economists to pressure Congress into taking only minimal action, if any, to reform the broken cattle market, as is exemplified by the minimalist approach in the modified compromise bill currently under congressional consideration.”

USDA to Provide Payments to Livestock Producers Impacted by Drought or Wildfire

The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that ranchers who have approved applications through the 2021 Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) for forage losses due to severe drought or wildfire in 2021 will soon begin receiving emergency relief payments for increases in supplemental feed costs in 2021 through the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) new Emergency Livestock Relief Program (ELRP).

“Producers of grazing livestock experienced catastrophic losses of available forage as well as higher costs for supplemental feed in 2021. Unfortunately, the conditions driving these losses have not improved for many and have even worsened for some, as drought spreads across the U.S.,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.  “In order to deliver much-needed assistance as efficiently as possible, phase one of the ELRP will use certain data from the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), allowing USDA to distribute payments within days to livestock producers.”

On September 30, 2021, President Biden signed into law the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act (P.L. 117-43). This Act includes $10 billion in assistance to agricultural producers impacted by wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, winter storms and other eligible disasters experienced during calendar years 2020 and 2021. Additionally, the Act specifically targets $750 million to provide assistance to livestock producers for losses incurred due to drought or wildfires in calendar year 2021. ELRP is part of FSA’s implementation of the Act.

For impacted ranchers, USDA will leverage LFP data to deliver immediate relief for increases in supplemental feed costs in 2021. LFP is an important tool that provides up to 60% of the estimated replacement feed cost when an eligible drought adversely impacts grazing lands or 50% of the monthly feed cost for the number of days the producer is prohibited from grazing the managed rangeland because of a qualifying wildfire.   

FSA received more than 100,000 applications totaling nearly $670 million in payments to livestock producers under LFP for the 2021 program year.

Congress recognized requests for assistance beyond this existing program and provided specific funding for disaster-impacted livestock producers in 2021.  

ELRP Eligibility – Phase One
To be eligible for an ELRP payment under phase one of program delivery, livestock producers must have suffered grazing losses in a county rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as having a D2 (severe drought) for eight consecutive weeks or a D3 (extreme drought) or higher level of drought intensity during the 2021 calendar year, and have applied and been approved for 2021 LFP. Additionally, producers whose permitted grazing on federally managed lands was disallowed due to wildfire are also eligible for ELRP payments, if they applied and were approved for 2021 LFP.

As part of FSA’s efforts to streamline and simplify the delivery of ELRP phase one benefits, producers are not required to submit an application for payment; however, they must have the following forms on file with FSA within a subsequently announced deadline as determined by the Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs:
    CCC-853, Livestock Forage Disaster Program Application
    Form AD-2047, Customer Data Worksheet.
    Form CCC-902, Farm Operating Plan for an individual or legal entity.
    Form CCC-901, Member Information for Legal Entities (if applicable).
    Form FSA-510, Request for an Exception to the $125,000 Payment Limitation for Certain Programs (if applicable).
    Form CCC-860, Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource, Beginning and Veteran Farmer or Rancher Certification, if applicable, for the 2021 program year.
    A highly erodible land conservation (sometimes referred to as HELC) and wetland conservation certification (Form AD-1026 Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) Certification) for the ELRP producer and applicable affiliates.

ELRP Payment Calculation – Phase One
To further expedite payments to eligible livestock producers, determine eligibility, and calculate an ELRP phase one payment, FSA will utilize livestock inventories and drought-affected forage acreage or restricted animal units and grazing days due to wildfire already reported by the producer when they submitted a 2021 CCC-853, Livestock Forage Disaster Program Application form.  

Phase one ELRP payments will be equal to the eligible livestock producer’s gross 2021 LFP calculated payment multiplied by a payment percentage, to reach a reasonable approximation of increased supplemental feed costs for eligible livestock producers in 2021.  

The ELRP payment percentage will be 90% for historically underserved producers, including beginning, limited resource, and veteran farmers and ranchers, and 75% for all other producers.  These payments will be subject to a payment limitation.

To qualify for the higher payment percentage, eligible producers must have a CCC-860, Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource, Beginning and Veteran Farmer or Rancher Certification, form on file with FSA for the 2021 program year.

Payments to eligible producers through phase one of ELRP are estimated to total more than $577 million.  

ELRP - Phase Two    
Today’s announcement is only Phase One of relief for livestock producers.  FSA continues to evaluate and identify impacts of 2021 drought and wildfire on livestock producers to ensure equitable and inclusive distribution of much-needed emergency relief program benefits.   

Emergency Relief Program (ERP) Assistance for Crop Producers
FSA is developing a two-phased process to provide assistance to diversified, row crop and specialty crop operations that were impacted by an eligible natural disaster event in calendar years 2020 or 2021.

This program will provide assistance to crop producers and will follow a two-phased process similar to that of the livestock assistance with implementation of the first phase in the coming weeks. Phase one of the crop assistance program delivery will leverage existing Federal Crop Insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program data as the basis for calculating initial payments.

Making the initial payments using existing safety net and risk management data will both speed implementation and further encourage participation in these permanent programs, including the Pasture, Rangeland, Forage Rainfall Index Crop Insurance Program, as Congress intended.

The second phase of the crop program will be intended to fill additional assistance gaps and cover eligible producers who did not participate in existing risk management programs.   

Through proactive communication and outreach, USDA will keep producers and stakeholders informed as ERP implementation details are made available.   

Additional Livestock Drought Assistance
Due to the persistent drought conditions in the Great Plains and West, FSA will be offering additional relief through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) to help ranchers cover above normal costs of hauling livestock to forage.  This policy enhancement complements previously announced ELAP compensation for hauling feed to livestock.  Soon after FSA announced the assistance for hauling feed to livestock, stakeholders were quick to point out that producers also were hauling the livestock to the feed source as well and encouraged this additional flexibility.   

It is important to note that, unlike ELRP emergency relief benefits which are only applicable for eligible losses incurred in the 2021 calendar year, this ELAP livestock and feed hauling compensation will not only be retroactive for 2021 but will also be available for losses in 2022 and subsequent years.    

To calculate ELAP program benefits, an online tool is currently available to help producers document and estimate payments to cover feed transportation cost increases caused by drought and will soon be updated to assist producers with calculations associated with drought related costs incurred for hauling livestock to forage

Mycotoxin risk update for the Alltech 2021 U.S. Harvest Analysis

The results from Alltech’s 2021 U.S. Harvest Analysis revealed that the mycotoxin risk was notably higher for forage harvested in 2021 compared to the previous year. As dairy producers are now opening their forage bunks and taking 2021 corn out of their silos, the mycotoxin risk has been found to be amplified in the total mixed rations (TMR) that are being tested in the Alltech 37+ laboratory. Almost 140 TMR samples have been tested since the beginning of January 2022, and the results show that 100% of samples contain mycotoxins, with an average number of 7.5 mycotoxins per sample. For dairy producers, type-B trichothecenes such as DON and zearalenone are the mycotoxins that can cause the most issues, as synergistic effects can occur between the type-B trichothecenes and zearalenone, and the presence of multiple mycotoxins can lead to additional challenges.

Working with dairy producers on-farm, Alltech team members across the upper Midwest and Northeast regions of the U.S. are seeing mycotoxins impact factors such as dry matter intake, milk production, digestion, reproduction, gut health and immune response.

“The perfect storm has occurred for mycotoxin risk throughout the Midwest and Northeast regions, as high levels of multiple mycotoxins are causing significant issues with health and performance on-farm,” said Dr. Max Hawkins, technical expert with Alltech’s Mycotoxin Management team. “Unfortunately, this is not a problem that is likely to disappear in the short term.”

Long periods of drought during the 2021 growing season were compounded by late-season rains close to harvest, presenting significant challenges to the crop quality. Fusarium mycotoxins dominated as levels of type-B trichothecenes — including DON — doubled compared to the numbers seen in 2020. The humid conditions also favored the development of zearalenone, a toxin that can lead to significant fertility problems in livestock. Dr. Hawkins added that when dairy producers feel that their herd is not performing to its fullest potential, he would recommend regular mycotoxin testing as a key tool for understanding and managing any risk that may be present in the TMR.

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