Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Tuesday April 5 Ag News

 Mike Flood has Earned the Nebraska Farm Bureau Endorsement for the First Congressional District

State Sen. Mike Flood has been endorsed by the Nebraska Farm Bureau Political Action Committee (NEFB-PAC). Flood is seeking to serve the First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Based on the results of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s grassroots selection process, which involves gathering input from local County Farm Bureaus across the state, Flood demonstrates his understanding of agriculture and its impact on our economy, according to Sherry Vinton, chair of the NEFB-PAC.

“It is clear our members believe Mike Flood is the right person to represent the First Congressional District. We are proud to offer him our endorsement and support as he seeks to represent Nebraskans in Congress,” said Vinton.

The NEFB-PAC endorsements are based on candidate’s positions on agriculture and rural issues and recommendations from district evaluation committees.

“Mike has a vast amount of experience serving as a current state senator and serving from 2005 to 2013, in which he also served as Speaker of the Legislature. This makes him a great candidate to represent Nebraska in the First Congressional District. Mike is a businessman and understands the important role agriculture plays in Nebraska’s economy,” said Vinton.

Flood has been a strong advocate for Farm Bureau priorities such as tax reform, working to expand broadband and e-connectivity, as well as growing opportunities for economic development in rural areas.

“Mike will work every day for Nebraska families to protect their freedoms, grow our economy, cut taxes, and reduce federal overreach. He will fight to make sure Congress reflects our Nebraska values,” said Vinton.

Flood’s proven leadership as a former Speaker of the Legislature and current state senator makes him well qualified to serve on the national stage representing Nebraska’s First Congressional District.

“We’re pleased to support Mike as he seeks to serve those in Nebraska’s First Congressional District. We look forward to working with him for the betterment of Nebraska and the nation,” said Vinton.


Statement by Mark McHargue, President, Regarding Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Jim Pillen’s Pick for Lieutenant Governor

“We are pleased to see gubernatorial candidate Jim Pillen select Joe Kelly as his lieutenant governor. Kelly has deep Nebraska roots and has served as the United States Attorney for the District of Nebraska from 2018 to 2021 under President Donald Trump. Kelly also served as the Lancaster County Attorney from 2011 to 2018. He currently is the Chief of the Criminal Bureau in the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office.”

“Joe brings a wealth of legal experience to Jim Pillen’s team. He will work side-by-side with Jim to fix Nebraska’s broken property tax system, grow our economy, enforce law and order, strengthen rural communities, and preserve Nebraska’s conservative values.”   


– Ben Beckman, NE Extension Educator

Fresh spring growth is a welcome site for producers looking for animal forage.  However, lush spring growth may be the perfect condition for a case of grass tetany.  While turn out may be a ways off, mitigating this risk starts now.
Grass tetany is the result of low levels of magnesium in an animal’s blood stream.  Low magnesium levels in lush, newly growing grass are often a main cause. In lactating animals, low dietary magnesium paired with a drain on calcium from milk production increases risk even more. Calcium aids in magnesium absorption. This means, high milk producing and older animals are most at risk for developing tetany.
To prevent tetany problems this spring, it’s best to wait till grass in pastures has grown to at least 6 inches high before grazing.  Legumes like alfalfa or clover, are a good source of magnesium, so grazing mixed grass and legume pastures can help balance mineral demands.
While cultural practices can reduce risk, providing correct and adequate mineral supplementation may be the most certain remedy.  Cattle should be consuming 3-4 ounces daily of mineral containing supplemental calcium and 10-13% magnesium oxide. This should start at least 30 days before grazing begins, to ensure proper intake has been established.
Most high magnesium minerals utilize magnesium oxide, which is bitter tasting and can reduce animal consumption.  Mix magnesium fortified mineral with salt into a complete package or feed with a highly palatable protein or energy supplement to improve intake
High magnesium mineral should be provided for animals until cool season grasses slow down growth and the levels of lush, fresh forage are reduced, around mid-May.
Dealing with grass tetany in the spring doesn’t have to negatively impact your herd. Plan now to adjust grazing management or mineral supplementation for a tetany-free spring.

Nebraska Cattlemen Hires Schroeder

Nebraska Cattlemen is pleased to announce the hire of Libby Schroeder as Director of Communications. Libby is a native of Texas and a graduate of Texas Tech University where she achieved a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in Communication Studies. Libby spent the last several years working on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. and she comes to Nebraska Cattlemen with an accomplished communications background.

“I am excited for the opportunity to use my communications expertise to convey the impact and achievements of our dedicated membership across the state.” Schroeder continued, “Nebraska Cattlemen members are the driving force shaping the success of the Beef State and I am looking forward to working side-by-side with our members to accomplish the objectives of this outstanding association on a local, state, and federal level.”

“Nebraska Cattlemen is excited to add Libby to our team. Her communication talents in all phases will translate well in promoting member involvement in the cattle and beef community,” said Pete McClymont, Executive Vice President. “Libby is eager to make a difference for the Nebraska Cattlemen family to strengthen our voice in all aspects of the organization’s work.”

Schroeder began her duties on ­­April 4, 2022, and can be reached at 402-475-2333 or via email at

UNL biological systems engineering graduate programs ranked 7th in nation by U.S. News & World Report

Graduate programs in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Biological Systems Engineering rank seventh in the nation according to new rankings by U.S. News & World Report. The score, up from eighth last year, puts the department ahead of several Big Ten peers, including Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Minnesota.  

“Biological and agricultural engineers aim to improve the natural world,” U.S. News & World Report said in announcing the rankings, “working toward goals such as safer food, cleaner water and less polluted air. These are the top graduate engineering schools for biological/agricultural engineering.”  

The department offers a doctoral degree in biological engineering and master’s degrees in agricultural and biological systems engineering and mechanized systems management.

David Jones, the department head, credits the diversity of the Biological Systems Engineering faculty and graduate students as a key factor for departmental success. “That’s relevant because that influences our graduate population and the way that we’re able to have an impact,” he said.   

Another major help is the quality of the department’s on-campus facilities and UNL’s research and Extension centers across the state, Jones said. Additional pluses are participation in Extension’s on-farm research and collaboration with industrial and commercial partners as well as the University of Nebraska Medical Center.   

“It is an honor to see our graduate program in biological systems engineering ranked among the top programs in the nation,” said Tiffany Heng-Moss, dean of the UNL’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. “The program’s outstanding faculty and staff, close collaboration with the Agricultural Research Division and Nebraska Extension, and partnerships with industry give students access to a wide array research and learning opportunities. It’s a truly unique program.”  

The range of graduate study in the department is extremely wide. Examples include agricultural technology, robotics and automation, watershed protection, ecosystem restoration, irrigation engineering, precision animal management, biofuels, biomaterials, and biomedical engineering.

In the new U.S. News & World Report rankings, the department tied with Texas A&M University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  

The department’s graduate committee, headed by Mark Wilkins, director of the department’s Industrial Agricultural Products Center and Nebraska Corn Checkoff Presidential Chair, makes special efforts to support graduate students beyond their work in the lab, Jones said: “Our departmental culture values the time and attention given to what we can do to help the students succeed based on the students’ definition of success.”   

"It's gratifying," Jones said, "that people are recognizing that our faculty and students are working on important things and that they're having an impact because of their work."


A broad mixture of factors affects the cattle industry — droughts, cattle cycles, grain prices and recently cyberattacks, just to mention a few, said University of Nebraska–Lincoln agricultural economist Azzeddine Azzam. The COVID-19 pandemic has added even more complexity, disrupting meat processing capacity and raising concerns about the industry’s resilience.

A $203,752 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will fund a far-ranging study of the packing industry’s complex economics by Azzam, Roy and Judith Frederick Professor of Agricultural Economics. Azzam has extensive experience in analyzing the complicated set of interactions and relationships that make up the cattle sector economy.

Azzam’s research project, funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, will focus on two key goals. First, the study will examine industry conduct during the COVID-19 plant shutdowns. Second, Azzam will analyze the economic ramifications from expanding local meat processing through the creation of small packing operations.

“Market power is only one of several dimensions that affect the cattle industry,” said Azzam, founder and past director of the Center of Agricultural and Food Industrial Organization.

The task for economists, he said, is to examine the wide array of ag-sector factors and sort out the details to reach conclusions for economic understanding and guidance for public policy.

“The question for us economists is how to separate the wheat from the chaff,” said Azzam, who has collaborated on international research projects on agricultural and food economic issues in Morocco, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates.

“The issue of market power exerted by packers is nothing new,” he said. “It's been around since the 1800s, and the industry has gone through cycles, and now we're at the point where the industry is again highly concentrated. And so the question is: What's the result of that concentration? Are producers worse off, or are they better off?”

Economists, Azzam said, have traditionally focused on the tradeoffs between two economic dimensions. The first dimension is meatpackers’ potential market power. The second dimension is economies of scale — efficiencies achieved by big packers by having larger plants. COVID-19 has added a third dimension: resilience.

The issue of resilience is tied to the initiative of creating more small packing plants.

“When we add more regional or local capacity to the industry, either through opening new plants or expanding the capacity of existing plants, that is going to restructure the industry,” Azzam said. “The questions that I will address are: Will the restructuring make the industry more resilient to capacity disruptions in the event of another pandemic? What are the short-term and long-term consequences for the cattle feeding industry?”

While separate initiatives, the research is timely. Nebraska animal science faculty recently announced plans to develop the Small Meat Processing Plant of the Future. The plant will leverage new and existing university resources to expand processing capacity and enhance the tools available to small and very small processors.

Such a step should be applauded, particularly if it enhances the cost-efficiency of small meat processing plants, thus allowing them a shot at competing for business with larger plants, Azzam said.

The responses to IANR’s announcement of the Small Plant of the Future have been overwhelmingly positive, said Clint Krehbiel, head of the Department of Animal Science. The initiative will use a variety of approaches to boost workforce development within an updated processing facility.

“This will include traditional classroom and hands-on training for students earning degrees at UNL, but will also expand meat science literacy for younger students through 4-H and FFA and student internships,” Krehbiel said.

In addition, the initiative will provide training in hazard analysis and critical control points systems that promote preventive steps for food safety. The project, Krehbiel said, will serve “as a resource for regulatory compliance and operating procedure refinement, training industry personnel to enhance final product value, providing technical support and supporting educational efforts of industry organizations.”

The overall goal, Krehbiel said, is to create a slaughter hub “as a prototype for other small and very small or custom-exempt slaughter facilities with a suite of resources available to those looking to set up or expand operations, including technical assistance and workforce development tools.” Over time, this approach “will have a multiplying effect in the region. With state-of-the-art facilities and faculty, the Small Plant of the Future will provide an immersive experience for both degree- and non-degree-seeking students to learn best practices across food safety, animal welfare, worker safety and sustainability.”

Assessing the tradeoffs among the market power, cost-efficiency and resilience ramifications likely to flow from a significant increase in the number and/or capacity of small packing plants is the aim of Azzam’s USDA-funded project. The models and methods used in making such an assessment come from the Agricultural and Food Industrial Organization program, one of the specialties in the Department of Agricultural Economics.

Feed Availability on Cost of Gain and Manure as a Source of Feedlot Revenue and Crop Fertilizer
Potential for Corn Availability

Elliott Dennis, Extension Livestock Economist, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

USDA’s Prospective Plantings report released on March 30th has created quite a bit of conversation about the 2022 grain supply and its subsequent impacts on cattle production. The report indicated that there would be a reduction in corn acreage. This reduction was almost entirely captured by an increase in soybean acreage rather than in other crops. The general commentary about why this reduction occurred given the incentives and potential profits for planting corn are:
1.     Input supply risks – lack of availability of fertilizer, primarily nitrogen, and herbicide. Fertilizer for corn that was pre-purchased is fixed but the ability to purchase additional fertilizer to switch acres is less available, or at least at marginally profitable levels.
2.     Crop rotation considerations – potential increase in crop disease and reduced soil nutrients due to a corn-to-corn rotation. This concern is primarily in states that have a higher corn-to-soybean rotation ratio such as Iowa. If producers needing to get in a year of soybeans into the rotation perhaps this is the year.
Optimists point to two conditions that could force more substitution away from soybeans into corn. First, there is always some switching that occurs between intentions and actual plantings due to market reactions and relative price ratios. Second, an early planting window would favor more corn being planted as the corn would be able to get in more growing degree days prior to the arrival of hot weather thus reducing potential damages. However, even if producers wanted and were able to switch from soybeans into corn, they could still be limited if they are just unable to get the necessary inputs for a successful crop.

Potential for Distillers Grains Availability
There is a large focus on the corn market because a large portion of most cattle finishing diets is protein but can come in the form of corn (i.e. dry rolled corn, steam flaked corn, high moisture corn, or ground corn) which is sometimes fed with a combination of distillers grains (i.e. dried, modified, or wet distillers grains). Distillers’ grains are generally fed up to a 40% inclusion but the inclusion level and type of distillers grain used can vary given local availability. Cattle feeders who use distillers grains, primarily in the wet form, are closely watching ethanol production numbers given the potential for ethanol plant slowdowns. Over the past two years, distillers grain price (as a percent of corn price on a dry matter basis) has been very volatile due to both more movement in the corn market and ethanol idling. Currently, ethanol production has kept pace with national weekly ethanol production – approximately at pre-COVID levels even with significantly higher corn prices (EPA 2022). Since oil and ethanol are highly correlated, one would expect ethanol plants to continue to be profitable even at higher prices corn and gasoline prices. However, Iowa State University Ethanol Profitability Tracker indicates the relative price increase in ethanol ($/gal.) have not been sufficiently high compared to the cost of corn ($/bu.). Net returns are calculated to be -$0.28 per gal. of ethanol, its lowest level since last winter in the last run-up in grain prices.

Impact of Feed Costs on Projected Cost of Gain
Ultimately, higher corn and distiller grain prices increase the cost of gain for feedlots. Kansas State University’s Focus on Feedlot report indicates the cost of gain has risen significantly. Steers placed early in 2022 had an expected cost of gain of approximately $124 per cwt. and heifers were approximately $128 per cwt. Both were up from $102 and $106 per cwt. a year ago. Using CME deferred futures would suggest that there are still profits to be made. However, these potential profits have eroded since the release of USDA’s Prospective Plantings report. Prior to the release, CME Live Cattle futures had some slight upward momentum – most contracts gaining about $2-3 per cwt. over the previous two weeks. Since the release, live cattle prices have eroded between $2-4 per cwt. with larger declines occurring in more nearby months. This is further narrowing profit margins.

Manure as a Potential Source of Additional Revenue
There is a potential win-win among grain producers and livestock producers this year. The significantly higher fertilizer costs and potential supply disruptions have created some incentives for grain producers to source manure from feedlots, hog, and poultry operations. If feedlots have properly collected and stored manure, then selling manure could be a potential source for additional revenue. Although the actual value will depend on the nutrient content which is in part determined by the cattle diet (Schmidt, 2016). Further, the type of facility (i.e. open-yard, bed-pack, or slat-floor barn) will likewise impact the nutrient content and thus the value of the manure. Given manure production estimates for a 999-head open yard facility and current Urea and DAP prices, the value of manure could be in the range of $60 per head or approximately $4.30 per cwt. for a 1400 lb. steer (see Manure Value, authors’ calculations). Selling manure would bring value back to the feedlot while relieving some concerns of access to nitrogen allowing for more rotation into corn from soybeans. How much selling will occur, and thus potential crop rotation, likely depends on the working relationships between crop and local feedlots, the feedlot organizational structure (i.e. farmer feeder vs. commercial feedlot), nutrient content of manure, and existing manure contracts – among other considerations.

Cattlemen’s Heritage Selects Iowa Company, Gross-Wen Technologies, to Provide Wastewater Treatment Technology to its new Processing Facility

Cattlemen’s Heritage Beef Company has selected Gross-Wen Technologies, a leading algae-based wastewater treatment company based in rural Slater, Iowa to provide wastewater treatment at the company’s proposed beef-processing plant in western Iowa, lead developer Chad Tentinger said today.

“Gross-Wen’s extraordinary technology will capture and offset 2,377 tons of carbon dioxide per year from the atmosphere, which is equivalent to avoiding the use of 242,000 gallons of gasoline every year,” Tentinger said. “The nitrogen and phosphorus that it recovers from our facility will be converted into valuable, natural fertilizer for re-use by area farmers.”

GWT co-founder and president Dr. Martin Gross expressed his company’s excitement to provide an innovative, sustainable treatment solution to this new facility. “Chad and his team are determined to expanding beef processing in the upper Midwest to ensure that cattle producers receive a fair return on their financial investment and hard work,” he said. “We’re excited to play a part in that ambitious goal by providing a state of the art, innovative, environmentally sustainable and energy efficient wastewater treatment solution.”

Cattlemen’s Heritage is scheduled to break ground this summer on a 500,000-square-foot beef-harvesting plant in northern Mills County just south of Council Bluffs, that will harvest 1,500 head per day and employ up to 750 people. Gross noted this facility will be the largest algae-based wastewater treatment facility in the United States when operational in the fourth quarter of 2023.

“Gross-Wen’s technology is the most sustainable and energy efficient way to treat wastewater, which made our decision an easy one to achieve our goal being the gold standard for energy efficiency and environmentally sustainability within the meat-processing industry,” Tentinger said.

Custom Rate Survey Shows Average Costs of Common Farming Practices

Many Iowa farmers hire some custom machine work in their farm business or perform custom work for others. Others rent machinery or perform other services.

In order to help producers and custom operators examine the market, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach publishes the Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey

This year’s survey, published in March, includes 122 responses and nearly 3,400 custom rates for tasks related to tillage, planting and seeding, spraying, harvesting, farm labor and more.

Most custom rates saw an increase of 3-10%, according to Alejandro Plastina, associate professor in economics and extension economist at Iowa State, and one of the authors of the report.

The cost for labor increased almost 14%, reflecting the challenges of a tight labor market nationwide.

Vertical tillage averages $19.30 per acre, with a range of $12 to $31 per acre. Tandem disking costs an average of $16.20 an acre and heavy or offset disking costs an average of $18.60 per acre.

Custom planting ranges from $11 to $40 per acre, depending on the type of planter and setup. Combining corn shows an average of $36.75 per acre and combining soybeans averages $36.05 per acre.

Plastina said some costs have already trended higher, due to increases in diesel and fuel prices since the survey was issued. The survey assumed diesel prices would be $3.33 a gallon in 2022, based on forecasts from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

“The survey may lag increases in diesel prices and other inputs in some areas,” said Plastina. “This means that for custom farming practices that involve these inputs, the cost may be even higher.”

Plastina said the information in the survey is meant to be a starting point for farmers and agribusiness to engage in conversations and negotiations.

“The survey is not meant to set the rate for a particular practice or operator,” he said. “This is an opinion survey and represents the responses of participants.”

Plastina said he appreciates the information that participants provide, although he noted there are fewer responses each year. In the future, if responses fall below five per cost item, that item will be removed.

IDALS, APHIS Confirm Additional Case of HPAI in Hamilton 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 Hamilton County, Iowa. The virus was found in a commercial turkey flock. This is the second case confirmed in a commercial turkey flock in Hamilton County, Iowa. The first case was confirmed on March 28, 2022.    

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.

Carbon Market Barriers Are the Topic of Farm Foundation Forum

Interest in agricultural carbon markets and carbon credit trading has everyone from producers to policymakers asking questions about what lies ahead.

To help answer some of those questions and the remaining challenges, two specialists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will speak during a Farm Foundation webinar April 12, called “Solving the Barriers to Agricultural Carbon Markets.”

The discussion will cover what still needs to be done to advance carbon markets in the United States, as well as an objective look at carbon markets from an economic and legal perspective.

Topics will include the current pitfalls of carbon markets, opportunities available for farmers and the current direction of both the science and market trends.

The speakers from Iowa State are Alejandro Plastina, associate professor in economics and extension economist, and Kristine Tidgren, director of the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation and holder of the Leonard Dolezal Professorship in Agricultural Law.

They will be joined by Shelby Myers, economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation, and Garth Boyd, moderator and partner at The Context Network. Boyd is also part of the Carbon Sequestration Task Force organized by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds in 2021.

“Agricultural carbon credits can offer some exciting opportunities for farmers and the industry, but there are certain things that need to be done to remove the barriers to the development of these markets,” said Plastina. “Those barriers include defining what a credit actually is, how carbon credit monitoring, reporting and verification might be enforced.”

Plastina is also co-author of a recent article in Applied Economics Perspectives and Policy, called “Challenges to Voluntary Ag Carbon Markets.”

In this article, he examines the actions that are still necessary to accurately measure and assess carbon credits, create demand and secure supply from the agricultural industry.

“The goal of the article is to highlight the barriers to the formation of agricultural carbon markets in the U.S., both from the demand and supply side,” he said. “There are some major challenges, starting with the corporate pledges to become carbon neutral and creation of a market that the industry can respond to.”

The article concludes with four possible scenarios for how ag carbon credits may play out, ranging from a highly valuable cash crop, to the possibility that markets could be unsustainable if corporate demand for credits is too low.

The Farm Foundation Forum will be held via Zoom webinar April 12 at 9 a.m. The forum is free and open to the public. Farmers, ranchers, government officials and staff, industry representatives, food and agribusiness leaders, NGO representatives, academics, researchers, students in agricultural disciplines and members of the media are encouraged to attend.

Register online at

2022 Hemp Licensing Window to Close April 15

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is encouraging Iowans to apply for or renew their hemp licenses for the 2022 growing season. Applications are available online through the hemp licensing portal. The deadline to apply for the outdoor growing season is April 15.

Individuals who are interested in growing hemp must obtain an annual license. The commercial hemp production program does not license cannabidiol (CBD) products for human consumption, extraction or processing in Iowa. The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals regulates Consumable Hemp Products. Additional information for retailers and processors is available at Hemp is not legal as animal feed.

Growers are advised to do their research and confirm there is a viable, profitable market for commercial hemp production before they make an investment in seed and equipment. For more information about the state’s hemp program, see or contact the program administrator Robin Pruisner at

Growth in E15 Sales in Iowa Breaks Previous State Record By 43%

The Iowa Department of Revenue recently released the 2021 Retailers Fuel Gallons Annual Report. The report highlighted all-time record E15 sales in Iowa in 2021, totaling nearly 87 million gallons. This broke the previous record by 43.4 percent.  Additionally, Iowa fuel retailers sold a record amount of E100 through higher blends at the pump in 2021. Combined sales of E15, E85 and mid-level ethanol blended fuel in 2021 added up to 28.4 million gallons, a 26 percent increase over previous records.

“The growth in demand and use of E15 in Iowa is exciting, especially as we are working on the Biofuels Access Bill to expand the availability of E15 across the state,” said Lance Lillibridge, a farmer from Vinton and president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. “Drivers are looking for more affordable fuel, and E15 and higher blends were not only the answer in 2021 but continue to be the solution for savings at the pump today.”

The report also showed that of the 1,645 Iowa retail locations, 95 percent reported selling at least one type of ethanol blend. Of those 1,571 stations offering ethanol blended fuels, 304 sold E15 and 286 reported selling E85.

The Iowa Corn Growers Association continues to advocate for the Biofuels Access Bill as a top priority. The bill will increase consumer choice at the pump by making E15 an option at many fuel stations across Iowa, with an increase in funding for the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program to $10 million per year for retailers.

U.S. Exports of Ethanol Intensify in February, while Shipments of DDGS Slip

Ann Lewis, Senior Analyst, Renewable Fuels Association
U.S. ethanol exports continued an upward trajectory in February, expanding 16% to 143.1 million gallons (mg) and coming in 41% higher than a year ago. Notably, exports of undenatured fuel ethanol reached their largest volume in nearly two years (South Korea and Singapore imported record volumes while India imports represented a 5-year high). Overall, Canada remained the top destination for U.S. ethanol exports for the eleventh consecutive month, taking in 31.0 mg (a 15% decrease from January). Elevated ethanol sales to India (25.6 mg, +35%), South Korea (18.3 mg, +56%), Brazil (12.7 mg, +44%), the United Kingdom (11.7 mg, +168%), and the Netherlands (7.6 mg, +21%) supported higher overall exports in February. However, China remained essentially absent from the export market for the ninth consecutive month.

The U.S. did not log any imports of foreign ethanol in February after importing 10.5 mg in January.

February U.S. exports of dried distillers grains (DDGS), the animal feed co-product generated by dry-mill ethanol plants, scaled back by 20% to 870,844 metric tons (mt)—the lowest volume in five months. However, Mexico increased its imports of U.S. DDGS by 3% to 203,911 mt and secured its position as the top customer for the seventeenth consecutive month. Shipments declined to South Korea (104,218 mt, -18%), although exports to Canada picked up the pace (102,421, +16%). These three countries represented half of the U.S. DDGS export market in February. Other larger customers included Indonesia (73,146, +2%), Japan (54,484 mt, +74% to a 17-month high), Vietnam (51,336 mt, -24% to the lowest volume since September 2017), Ireland (27,392 mt, +82%), and Israel (25,012 mt, +25%). Additionally, Portugal purchased a record 20,000 mt. Lower DDGS export volumes can also be attributed to Turkey and China slashing imports by roughly 80% compared to January.

RFA Issues ‘Pump Up the Savings’ Challenge

To show the value of ethanol to drivers around the country, the Renewable Fuels Association has kicked off a new “Pump Up the Savings” sweepstakes encouraging consumers to share pictures of fuel prices when they fill up at the pump, showing the savings associated with ethanol blends like E15 and E85. Qualifying entries will be entered into a weekly drawing for a $50 fuel card, from now until Labor Day.

“Consumers across the country continue to experience pain at the pump, but many are finding relief by choosing lower-cost ethanol blends,” said RFA Vice President for Industry Relations Robert White. “We’re seeing a lot of pictures on social media and elsewhere from drivers who are thrilled by the savings they’re getting at the pump when they choose higher ethanol blends like E15 and E85. We know there are a lot of great examples out there, and we’re always looking for ways to share the good news: Lower-cost, lower-carbon ethanol saves drivers every single time they fill up their tank, while making our country more energy secure.”

White noted that U.S. drivers saved an average of $0.22 per gallon of gasoline from 2015 through 2018 as a result of ethanol use under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Prices vary by market, but E15 is saving some drivers up to nearly $0.50 per gallon over E10, according to pump prices reported on With flex fuels like E85, drivers can save even more. E85’s discount to gasoline has been nearly $1 a gallon on average recently, and more than $2 per gallon in states like California.

In order to qualify for the weekly drawing, the picture must be shared on Twitter and include prices for regular unleaded (E10) and E15 and/or E85. If ethanol-free gasoline (E0) is available, please include that too, if possible. These pictures can be of the fuel dispenser or price sign/marquee. Entrants must name the station, city and state, and date of picture, and tag @ethanolRFA. Images also must be shared with social media hashtags: #ethanol #E15 #E85 and #fuelprices, unless those words are already mentioned in the tweet. Drivers are also encouraged to tag @POTUS and @EPA to make sure government leaders take notice and take action.

Participants can post as many pictures as they want, but only one entry per day per account will be entered into the weekly drawing. One random weekly winner will be drawn for a $50 gift card, with winners named weekly. Gift cards are sent out at the end of each month.

Growth Energy Submits Comments to EPA on Biofuels’ Role in Reducing Emissions from Aviation Sector

Growth Energy submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the agency’s particulate matter (PM) emissions standards and test procedures for jet engines, and the role biofuels play in reducing PM and greenhouse gas emissions in mobile sources including the aviation sector.

“As we have already seen with higher biofuel blends and light-duty vehicles, the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) holds tremendous potential for reducing air pollution and improving our air quality,” wrote Growth Energy. “Ethanol to jet fuel as SAF has the potential to replace 50% of the petroleum used in jet fuel.”

In its comments, Growth Energy shared a recent alternative jet fuel emissions project from the Airport Cooperative Research Program for the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, which shows that a 50% blend of SAF can reduce PM emissions by nearly 70%, sulfur by 37%, and carbon monoxide by 11%.  

“These are meaningful reductions that would be a win-win-win for our environment, human health, and for our rural economy.”

In February 2022, Growth Energy Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Chris Bliley testified before EPA at its virtual public hearing on its proposed rulemaking for the PM emission standard for aircraft engines. At the hearing, and as reflected in the comments submitted yesterday, Growth Energy underscored the impact biofuels can have in decarbonizing the aviation sector.

“With the appropriate investment in critical research and development, and the right policy environment, our industry can work to remove these harmful emissions from our aviation fleet,” testified Bliley. “To achieve the Biden Administration’s goal of 3 billion gallons of SAF production by 2030 and 35 billion gallons by 2050 to achieve net-zero emissions in aviation, we will need game-changing solutions.”


In September 2021, the White House announced a new Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge to inspire the dramatic increase in the production of sustainable aviation fuels to at least 3 billion gallons per year by 2030. In the same month, in order to achieve this goal, Growth Energy joined ag and biofuel leaders in sending a letter to the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee outlining its recommendations for a sound and effective SAF tax credit.  

U.S., Mexican Agriculture Secretaries Meet to Address Shared Priorities

United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Mexico Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development Victor Villalobos met this week to continue cooperation on shared priorities including open trade, science-based policy making, and sustainable and climate-smart agricultural production.

Following their meetings, Vilsack and Villalobos announced that the United States and Mexico have concluded all necessary plant health protocols and agreed to a final visit by Mexican officials in April that finalizes expanded access to the entire Mexican market no later than May 15 for all U.S. table stock and chipping potatoes according to the agreed workplan.

During their engagement, the Secretaries reaffirmed their shared commitment to:
    promoting food security by facilitating trade, inclusive rural development and enabling sustainable productivity growth;
    continuing to support rural development by expanding market opportunities for agricultural producers and their products;
    helping small producers and new farmers, particularly with respect to developing local and regional markets
    tackling climate change by giving farmers access to tools and technologies that enable them to increase production while minimizing their environmental impacts; and
    enhancing plant and animal health cooperation to meet emerging threats and to promote food security.

Two-way trade in food and agricultural products between the United States and Mexico reached a record $63 billion in 2021 and the strong relationship between the North American neighbors has been further enhanced by the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

DAP Fertilizer Price Now at Highest Price in History of DTN Data Set

Retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the last week of March 2022 are moving significantly higher again. All fertilizers were higher with some double digits higher compared to last month.

Leading the way higher was DAP. The phosphorus fertilizer was 17% more expensive compared to last month and had an average price of $1,033/ton.  DAP prices are now at the highest level in the history of DTN's data set. The previous high for the phosphorus fertilizer was $984/ton set the first week of November 2008.

Potash was 15% higher compared to last month with an average price of $868/ton. MAP was 12% more expensive looking back a month, with an average price of $1,045/ton. Also a considerable amount higher were 10-34-0, urea and UAN28. DTN designates a significant move as anything 5% or more.

10-34-0 was up 7% compared to to last month and had an average price of $896/ton. Urea was 6% more expensive versus the prior month and had an average price of $1,022/ton. This was an all-time high and urea is above $1,000 for the first time ever.  Also higher was UAN28. The nitrogen fertilizer was up 6% from last month and had an average price of $637/ton.

The remaining two fertilizers were slightly lower compared to last month. Anhydrous had an average price of $1,526/ton (all-time high) and UAN32 $711/ton (all-time high).

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $1.11/lb.N, anhydrous $0.93/lb.N, UAN28 $1.14/lb.N and UAN32 $1.11/lb.N.

Most fertilizers continue to be considerably more expensive than one year earlier.

MAP and 10-34-0 is now 50% more expensive, DAP is 67% higher, UAN28 is 88% more expensive, UAN32 is 89% higher, urea is 102% more expensive, potash is 104% is higher and anhydrous is 123% higher compared to last year.

Surging Feed Costs Drop the February DMC Margin

The second highest monthly surge in feed costs since the emergence of margin protection as the main federal safety net for farmers lowered the Dairy Margin Coverage Program margin by $0.34/cwt, to $11.20/cwt, in February.

Steady increases in feed costs for the past year and a half were kicked into a yet higher gear by the developing Russia-Ukraine situation, raising fears of reduced global grain production. The February DMC feed cost was $13.50/cwt, up $0.84/cwt from a month earlier and the highest since the introduction of margin protection in 2014. Two-thirds of this increase came from a jump in the price received by U.S. farmers for corn.

Offsetting the jump somewhat – but not enough – was an increase of the U.S. average all-milk price by $0.50/cwt to $24.70/cwt.

The dairy and grain futures markets currently indicate the DMC margin will gradually increase during the remainder of 2022.

March CWT-Assisted Dairy Export Sales Totaled 73 Million Pounds

CWT member cooperatives secured 67 contracts in March, adding 6.7 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 37,000 pounds of butter, 611,000 pounds of whole milk powder and 895,000 pounds of cream cheese to CWT-assisted sales in 2022. In milk equivalent, this is equal to 74 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. These products will go customers in Asia, Central America, Middle East-North Africa, Oceania and South America, and will be shipped from March through September 2022.

CWT-assisted 2022 dairy product sales contracts year-to-date total 36.5 million pounds of American-type cheese, 37,000 pounds of butter, 4.0 million pounds of cream cheese and 14.7 million pounds of whole milk powder. This brings the total milk equivalent for the year to 477 million pounds on a milkfat basis.

Exporting dairy products is critical to the viability of dairy farmers and their cooperatives across the country. Whether or not a cooperative is actively engaged in exporting cheese, butter, anhydrous milkfat, cream cheese, or whole milk powder, moving products into world markets is essential. CWT provides a means to move domestic dairy products to overseas markets by helping to overcome U.S. dairy’s trade disadvantages.

Looking to a Bright Future for Corn with 2022 CUTC

The Corn Utilization and Technology Conference (CUTC) answers the question of how can we produce more quality corn, build new markets and continue to create opportunities for agriculture. While the ag industry can often be the target of unfavorable attention, CUTC brings an optimistic and forward-thinking focus on corn production quality and new technologies to build greater corn demand.  Productivity, adaption and resilience are key pillars at the forefront of 2022’s CUTC agenda.

 An impressive list of industry experts will cover topics including sustainable aviation fuel, DDGS opportunities, fractionation, biotechnology, technology transfer, commercialization, mycotoxin management, wet-milling technologies, dry-milling markets and innovation.

This year’s keynote will be presented by Dr. Todd Werpy, senior vice president and chief science officer for Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM). In that role, Dr. Werpy leads the development of ADM’s scientific talent and technical capabilities, with a focus on ensuring that technology delivers cost improvement and competitive advantage and that ADM delivers on its strong pipeline of improvement projects.

Since 1987, CUTC has convened the corn industry’s leading innovators. This biennial conference provides a setting that allows scientific exchange and engaging discussions for researchers, farmers and other industry leaders. Participants are presented with numerous networking opportunities: meeting with business contacts, identifying new customers, and learning how new technologies will enhance the value of their business. Students will find opportunities to build lasting networks and present their research through the Student Poster Session.  CUTC also offers the perfect venue for exhibitors to present new technologies and equipment to potential clients.

CUTC will be held in St. Louis, Missouri, at the DoubleTree Hotel and Conference Center from June 6 through June 8, 2022.  To learn more about the agenda, registration, sponsorship or exhibitors, visit

National Sorghum Producers Opens 2022 Sorghum Yield Contest, Announces Entry and Harvest Deadline Rule Changes

The 2022 National Sorghum Producers Yield Contest is now open and includes new deadlines for entry and harvest forms submission deadlines.

The new entry deadline for the 2022 Sorghum Yield Contest is October 15. Additionally, the 10-day waiting period between submission of the entry form and the harvest report is eliminated. Harvest reports will be made available to contest entrants beginning October 16 and must be received at the NSP office or postmarked no later than November 25.

“The sorghum yield contest pushes both growers and seed companies to discover cutting-edge genetics and management practices to improve yields,” NSP CEO Tim Lust said. “The new rule changes provide for a more streamlined entry process for producers and our staff, and we look forward to strong entries in this upcoming contest setting even more yield records.”

Yield contestants are split into east and west regions for each division. Contest divisions include irrigated, dryland no-till and dryland tillage, and one winner is selected for the food grade division.

The goal of the yield contest is to increase grower yields, transfer knowledge between growers to enhance management and identify sorghum producers who excel in each state and throughout the country. In order to enroll, contestants must be a paid NSP member at the time of entry. More than one member of a family may enroll, but each member must have a separate membership. All entries will be reviewed and divisions will be placed off of yield only. National and state winners will be recognized at the 2023 Commodity Classic in Orlando, Florida.

To find the entry form, 2022 yield contest rule changes and more information, interested contestants can visit or contact NSP Director of Operations Garrett Mink at 806-749-3478.

Maximizing Preemergent Herbicide Applications

Controlling weeds early is key to protecting a crop’s yield potential. Weed control programs that start with effective preplant/preemergence applications help to maximize net returns for the grower.

Weeds that germinate, emerge and grow with the crop cause the most yield loss, so getting ahead of them is essential. Preplant and preemergent herbicides can provide critical early season weed control when crops are most vulnerable to competition and weeds are easiest to treat. Preemergence herbicides can be especially effective on glyphosate-resistant weeds, such as waterhemp, Palmer amaranth and ragweed.

“Timing is important,” said Brad Mason, Pioneer Field Agronomist. “It may seem tempting to delay herbicide treatment in hopes of catching more weeds as they emerge, but it’s not advised.”

Instead, it is recommended for growers to mix up their herbicide applications and modes of treatment to help make sure they are burning down existing weeds and getting some residual protection, he said.

“Do not overuse modes of action,” Mason advised. “For an optimized herbicide program, mix it up every time you’re in that crop,” which provides better control and slows development of potentially resistant weeds.

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