Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Tuesday May 31 Crop Progress + Ag News


For the week ending May 29, 2022, there were 4.5 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 12% very short, 26% short, 59% adequate, and 3% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 17% very short, 37% short, 46% adequate, and 0% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn planted was 95%, near 97% last year and 94% for the five-year average. Emerged was 73%, behind 81% last year, and near 77% average.

Soybeans planted was 87%, behind 93% last year, but near 83% average. Emerged was 55%, behind 65% last year, but near 52% average.

Winter wheat condition rated 16% very poor, 17% poor, 38% fair, 25% good, and 4% excellent.  Winter wheat headed was 50%, near 46% last year and 49% average.

Sorghum planted was 55%, ahead of 43% last year, and near 52% average.

Oats condition rated 12% very poor, 14% poor, 28% fair, 39% good, and 7% excellent. Oats emerged was 93%, near 96% last year and 92% average.

Dry edible beans planted was 21%, near 18% last year, and ahead of 12% average.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 15% very poor, 23% poor, 42% fair, 18% good, and 2% excellent.


A few days of welcome rainfall meant Iowa farmers had 4.1 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending May 29, 2022, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Fieldwork activities included planting, cutting hay, and applying chemicals.

Topsoil moisture conditions rated 1 percent very short, 10 percent short, 80 percent adequate and 9 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture conditions rated 2 percent very short, 18 percent short, 74 percent adequate and 6 percent surplus.

Planting is almost complete, with 94 percent of Iowa’s expected corn crop planted, 13 days behind last year but equal to the 5-year average. Seventy-three percent of the corn crop has emerged, 6 days behind last year and 2 days behind the average. Iowa’s first corn condition rating of the crop year was 0 percent very poor, 1 percent poor, 13 percent fair, 71 percent good and 15 percent excellent.

Eighty-five percent of soybeans have been planted, 11 days behind last year but 6 days ahead of the 5-year average. Forty-five percent of soybeans have emerged, 8 days behind last year and 1 day behind the average.

Ninety percent of the oat crop has emerged, 11 days behind last year and 1 week behind the 5-year average. Ten percent of the oat crop has headed, 5 days behind last year. Iowa’s oat condition improved to 82 percent good to excellent.

Fifteen percent of the State’s first cutting of alfalfa hay has been completed. Hay condition improved to 75 percent good to excellent.

Pasture condition rose to 63 percent good to excellent. Pastures and hay growth were good as rains replenished soil moisture. Pastures are in good shape for livestock.

USDA Crop Progress Report: Corn, Soybean Planting Closes in on Normalcy

U.S. farmers were seemingly busy week last week, pushing corn planting to 86% completion and soybean planting to 66%, USDA NASS said in its weekly Crop Progress report on Tuesday. The report is normally released on Mondays but was delayed this week due to Memorial Day.

-- Planting progress: 86% nationwide as of Sunday, May 29, up 14 percentage points from the previous week.
-- Crop development: 61% of corn was emerged as of Sunday, up 22 percentage points from the previous week and 7 percentage points behind the five-year average

-- Planting progress: 66% nationwide as of Sunday, up 16 percentage points from the previous week, and now just 1 percentage point behind the five-year average.
-- Crop development: 39% of soybeans had emerged nationwide as of Sunday, 7 percentage points behind the five-year average.

-- Crop development progress: 72% of the winter wheat crop was headed nationwide as of Sunday, 4 percentage points behind the five-year average.
-- Crop condition: 29% of the winter wheat crop was rated good to excellent as of May 29, 2022, up 1 percentage point from the previous week and down from 48% a year ago.  Also, 40% of the crop is rated poor to very poor compared to just 19% a year ago. It is the lowest crop rating since the drought of 1989.

-- Planting Progress: 73% of the spring wheat crop was planted as of Sunday, up 24 percentage points from the previous week, but down 19 percentage points from the five-year average. Minnesota is 53% planted, up 41 points for the week, and North Dakota at 59% planted.
-- Crop Condition: 42% of the spring wheat crop had emerged as of Sunday, up 13 percentage points from the previous week, but 27 percentage points behind the five-year average.


Youth Crop Scouting Competition - Connecting Youth with Crops

Looking for a fun club project? Want to unite your club members? Running out of ideas for club meetings? If you answered, “yes” to any of these questions, help is on the way! Nebraska Extension is pleased to present the 9th  annual Crop Scouting Competition for Nebraska youth. Youth interested in crops can learn about crop growth & development and basic crop scouting principles. 

Don’t know a lot about crops? Ask a local agronomist to assist by providing a short lesson on crop production. You can have the agronomist meet with youth a little during each meeting or outside of the meeting. This is one way to engage those youth interested in crops. 

This contest will be held at the Eastern Nebraska Research & Extension Center near Mead, Nebraska on August 3, 2022. The event will include both indoor and outdoor events. Teams of junior high and high school students (those completing 5-12th  grades) from across Nebraska are invited to participate. This event is limited to the first ten teams who sign-up! 

Clubs or other organizations may enter a team composed of three to five participants. An adult team leader must accompany each team of students. Team leaders could be FFA advisors, crop consultants, extension staff, coop employees, etc. 

Top-scoring teams win prizes: $500 for first, $250 for second, $100 for third place. Top two teams will be eligible for regional competition held virtually this year.

Teams will be expected to know the basics of scouting corn and soybean fields. This includes crop staging; looking for patterns of crop injury; disease, insect and weed seedling identification; etc. Other topics may include but are not limited to, pesticide safety, nutrient disorders, and herbicide injury. 

More information about the crop scouting competition and instructions on how to  register  a team are available online at cropwatch.unl.edu/youth. Register at:  https://go.unl.edu/cropscoutingreg.

Teams must be registered by July 15. This program is sponsored by Nebraska Independent Crop Consultant Association, Ward Laboratories and Nebraska Extension.

Cuming County 4-H Hosting Entrepreneurship Camp

This summer, Cuming County 4-H is hosting an entrepreneurship camp for youth ages 12 – 15 as of January 1. This camp will be held on July 12-14, 19 and 21. This event will be held in the Cuming County Courthouse Meeting Room from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. The cost is $25.00.

Youth will use their creativity to solve community problems. They will dive into their strengths and how they can be entrepreneurial in anything they do. During this camp, they will start a business and meet new people. They will work with a team to develop a business idea and products to sell, with the help of startup funds from an investor.

This camp is a 2-week commitment, and the registration fee includes daily lunch and additional materials. Prior to the camp, there will be an orientation meeting for parents/guardians. Space is limited so register today!

This camp will be led by Melissa Nordboe, Extension Assistant in Cuming County, and Tayler Wickham, 4-H Extension Educator in Washington County (her Accountability Region serves Cuming County).

USSEC’s Middle East/North Africa Dairy Nutrition Conference Delivers Industry Value

The nutritional advantages of U.S. Soy in dairy cow feed were on full display at USSEC’s recent annual Regional Dairy Nutrition conference in Jordan. Farmers from major dairy operations and feed millers in the Middle East/North Africa region joined in training that covered the sustainability, health, feeding and milk yield of dairy cows.

The Middle East/North Africa region is home to 6 percent of the global population and the countries of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria were the fastest growing feed industry in the world last year.

Dennis Fujan, a soybean farmer from Prague, Nebraska and American Soybean Association Director, presented an overview of his fourth-generation family farm, sustainability practices, soybean growing season and how his soybeans are transported from field to market.

“Attendees showed a lot of interest with good questions and comments,” Fujan said, “One gentleman told me how grateful he was for this conference because of changes he made to his operation from knowledge he gained at previous conferences.”

Nearly 100 participants from a dozen countries including Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the United States were on hand for the four-day conference which brought key stakeholders together to learn more about how U.S. Soy can benefit dairy operations in the region.

“The FAS (Foreign Agricultural Service) office in Amman is very proud of USSEC’s work in organizing and executing a business oriented, scientific based, and much needed gathering of regional dairy businesses,” said Mohamed Khraishy, FAS Senior Agricultural Specialist. “Although it was convened at the lowest point on earth – the Dead Sea – it came at a time of high demand, while representing the high caliber of the U.S. Soy industry.”

Customers and presenters alike were appreciative for the opportunity to be learning together in person.

“These types of activities help us to reconnect with some of our current buyers after two years of isolation,” said Daniel Secondi, Director International Merchandising at Perdue Agribusiness. “There is triangle between U.S. suppliers, overseas buyers and USSEC and a conference like this definitely helps us strength these relationships.”

Participants from Egyptian Milk Producers Association expressed their appreciation to USSEC and the speakers for the expertise shared at the conference, which will enable them to improve production and animal health. Egypt is the third largest soybean export market for the U.S., and home to a USSEC Soy Excellence Center.

“I am pleased to have had the opportunity to attend and learn how we can enhance animal health through quality feed and other factors,” said Ahmad Abd Elkhabir, Area Manager of Animal Nutrition at IFFCO Group.

Along with hearing soy market updates, USSEC’s regional customers learned about the added value of soy products in animal feed and the advantages of U.S. Soy’s nutrient content, consistency, sustainability, reliability and quality.


– Ben Beckman, NE Extension Educator

Yellow-green patches in a pasture might look pretty for the uninitiated, but the tell-tale bloom of leafy spurge is not a spring sight many of us want to see.

While there are many plants livestock producers may consider pasture weeds, one that is held in particular dislike is leafy spurge.  Besides being on the Nebraska noxious weed list and requiring control, this hardy perennial spreads aggressively through seeds and root buds.  With an extensive root system that can reach depths up to 15 ft., once established spurge is hard to control.

While biological and cultural control methods may provide some reduction in growth and seed production, those wanting complete control might consider an herbicide treatment as the best option.

Multiple chemicals have action on spurge, however for spring treatments, control at bud or true flower stage is recommended.  Early application at the bud stage is limited to 2,4-D ester or a Picloram/2,4-D mix.  A later flower stage application opens up or options to Curtail/Cody/Stinger, Streamline, a mix of Sharpen + Plateau or a mix of Overdrive + Tordon.

Unfortunately, a single treatment will not control spurge, so continued monitoring and retreatment is necessary. An effective strategy is pairing spring applications that prevent seed production with a fall treatment to control new growth.

Leafy Spurge can easily take over a pasture, but with vigilance and regular treatment, control can be achieved.

Events Announced for World Pork Expo 2022

This year’s World Pork Expo at the Iowa State Fairgrounds from June 8-10 is presented by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), marking the organization’s 34th annual event. Thousands of producers and industry professionals will gather to learn the latest technologies and innovations in the field.

The World Pork Expo is well-known for its networking opportunities, educational seminars, packed trade show floor, and events. Attendees are encouraged to plan ahead so they don’t miss out on the packed programming.

Here’s a look at some events taking place at this year’s Expo:
● Explore the Trade Show. Attendees don’t want to miss visiting the hundreds of vendors and exhibitors displaying the latest pork production technologies, products, and services throughout the Varied Industries Building, Hospitality Tents, and more. The trade show is open Wednesday and Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Check out the list of exhibitors here.

● Stop by a Seminar. This year’s line-up of programming through Business Seminars and the Pork Academy gives producers the opportunity to learn about critical topics such as sustainability, data, industry collaborations, nutrition, and more.

● Breakfast at the McRig. Expo attendees can grab breakfast at the McRig, courtesy of McDonald’s, on June 8 and 9 from 8-10 a.m. Snag a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit or sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit with a side of hash browns. The McRig is located at Grand Avenue, west of the main entrance.

● Get Your Fill at the Big Grill. Attendees are also invited each day to stop by the Big Grill for a free lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  The Big Grill is located in the grassy area south of the Varied Industries Building.

● Get Grillin’ with the Grillologists. Self-proclaimed “Grillologists,” Mad Dog & Merrill® entertain and educate thousands of backyard enthusiasts every year with the finer points of grill’n. Attendees can join in the laughs and a filming of Mad Dog & Merrill Midwest Grill’n® at booth G162 on June 8 at 2:00 p.m. and again on June 9 at 10:30 a.m.

● Networking lounge. Lounge Hours are held in Meeting Room B from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and again from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. for opportunities to network with staff experts from the National Pork Board and answer questions about sustainability and disease preparedness.

Visit www.worldpork.org to view a full schedule of events.
Register By June 2 and Save

Online registration is still available www.worldpork.org. Registered attendees get access to all three days of the Expo, including networking opportunities. All attendees who pre-register online by Thursday, June 2 receive a discounted rate of $10 per adult (ages 12+) and $1 for children (6-11 years old). Children 5 years and under are free. Registration on-site will be $20 per adult. There is an on-site Friday-only option for $10.
Enhanced Biosecurity Measures

Four biosecurity checkpoints will be set up around the show, requiring all attendees to pass through the foot baths before entering. These are located: south of the main entrance at Gate 15 and the Animal Learning Center, SW of the Jacobson Exhibition Center, SW of the Varied Industries Building, and at the west end of Grand Ave before you reach the hospitality tent area. More information on all biosecurity measures can be found on our website www.worldpork.org.

ISU Research and Demonstration Farm Reports Available for 2021

The latest version of Iowa State University’s Research and Demonstration Farms summary reports are now available online and in print.

Nine farm reports are available, with a new look that includes larger headings, expanded tables and color photography.

“I think the public will be excited by the new look, but they will also appreciate the fact that the reports contain the same data and the same information people are used to, just in a modernized package,” said Tim Goode, director of research and demonstration farms at Iowa State.

The reports date back to the early 1930s and were part of the agreement made with farmers and Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, when the first research farm was established in north central Iowa.

“Part of the agreement was that we would publish site-specific research from each area, and that is what these publications do,” said Goode. “The reports provide replicated, unbiased, site-specific research that is published annually.”

The reports can be downloaded from the Iowa State Extension Store and are also available at research farm field days and association meetings. They contain summary articles about crop and livestock research, including row crops, small grains, forages, specialty crops and other research being conducted across the state.

The information is used by farmers, seed companies, veterinarians and nutritionists – essentially anyone who is involved with agriculture.

Specialists with Iowa State conduct research at the farms year-round, with field days held during the spring, summer and fall. About 20,000 people visit the farms each year, including school-age youth. More than 130 Iowa State faculty members use the farms for teaching, research and extension.

Goode said the COVID pandemic presented some unique challenges for the farm, and during 2020, most outreach was done remotely. However, the research continued mostly as usual, with the same results delivered each year since the pandemic.

He said he’s looking forward to the in-person field days and educational events this year, and collecting data that will be included in next year’s reports.

“Another season is already starting and as data is compiled throughout the year, we’ll be ready to publish yet another research farm report,” said Goode.

The following 2021 farm reports available include:
    Northwest Research and Demonstration Farm and Allee Demonstration Farm - https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/16464
    Western Research and Demonstration Farm - https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/16419
    Armstrong Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm Neely-Kinyon Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm (SW Iowa) - https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/16420

Robotic milking system webinar is June 15

The I-29 Moo University 2022 Dairy Webinar Series continues Wednesday, June 15 from 12 noon to 1 p.m. with a focus on asking the right questions before you commit to an automated milking system.

Tune in with Jim Salfer to learn if investing in a robotic milking system will help you achieve your goals and to discover the key management skills needed for success.  Salfer is a Regional Extension Educator with University of Minnesota Extension. He is well-known across the country for his expertise and knowledge in automated milking systems.

“A robotic milking system is an expensive investment,” said Fred Hall, dairy specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “Is it the right decision for your dairy? Your long-term goals and management style are two factors to consider. Jim Salfer will share that and more.”

Dairy producers and allied industry reps are invited to join the webinar. There is no fee to participate; however, preregistration is required at least one hour before it begins. Preregister online at https://go.iastate.edu/YTINPV.

For more information, contact: in Iowa, Fred M. Hall, 712-737-4230; in Minnesota, Jim Salfer, 320-203-6093; or in South Dakota, Heidi Carroll, 605-688-6623.

I-29 Moo University is a consortium of Extension dairy specialists from the land-grant universities in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The I-29 Moo University is a multi-state learning collaboration and connects Extension dairy staff with the dairy community to share research, information and management practices through workshops, webinars, e-newsletters, podcasts, and on-farm tours.

Billion-Dollar Livestock Facility Planned for Western South Dakota

Plans are in development to construct a $1.1 Billion next-generation livestock processing facility in western South Dakota. The one-million-square-foot facility will process beef and include a specialty bison line. Kingsbury and Associates and Sirius Realty of Rapid City, South Dakota, are currently in the research and development phase of the project. “We aim to restore competition in American meant processing,” says Megan Kingsbury. “I’m a fifth-generation producer and know how difficult it is right now for us to be profitable. We want to fix that.” Kingsbury says they want to compete with the Big Four meatpacking giants and be that all-important second bidder in the cash market. The proposed facility will focus on bringing in and developing new technologies in robotics and artificial intelligence to make processing easier, safer, and more efficient. “We will focus on procuring American cattle and feeding American citizens affordable, high-quality protein,” Kingsbury adds.

U.S. Agricultural Exports in Fiscal Year 2022 Forecast Up $7.5 Billion to a Record $191.0 Billion; Imports at $180.5 Billion

USDA Economic Research Service

U.S. agricultural exports in fiscal year (FY) 2022 are forecast at a record $191.0 billion, up $7.5
billion from the February forecast, led by increases in corn, cotton, and soybeans. Corn exports
are forecast $2.2 billion higher to $19.1 billion due to record volumes and higher unit values.

Overall grain and feed exports are projected $3.8 billion higher at $46.7 billion, with gains
across all commodities except rice. Cotton exports are forecast at a record $9.0 billion, up $1.0
billion from the previous forecast, driven by higher unit values. Soybean exports are projected
up $1.0 billion to a record $32.3 billion as higher volumes more than offset lower unit values.
Total oilseed and product exports are forecast $700 million higher to a record $44.3 billion.

Overall livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are projected to increase by $1.2 billion to $40.4
billion, with gains across all major commodities except pork. Beef and veal exports are projected
to increase by $700 million on higher unit values as demand in East Asia is expected to remain
firm. The projection for ethanol exports is forecast at a record $3.8 billion, up $900 million from
the previous forecast due mainly to higher unit values. Horticultural exports are unchanged at
$38.5 billion.

The forecast for China is unchanged at $36.0 billion from February, and a record if realized.
Exports to the Western Hemisphere are projected $6.5 billion higher, with Mexico and Canada
forecast up $2.5 billion each. China is forecast to remain the largest U.S. agricultural market in
FY 2022, followed by Mexico and Canada.

U.S. agricultural imports in FY 2022 are projected at $180.5 billion, up $8.0 billion from the
February forecast. This increase is primarily driven by rising unit values.

The forecasts in this report are based on policies in effect at the time of the May 12, 2022,
World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) release, and the U.S. production
forecasts thereof. Additionally, Russia’s recent military invasion of Ukraine significantly
increased the uncertainty of agricultural supply and demand conditions in that region and
globally. The forecasts in this report represent an ongoing assessment of the short-term impacts
resulting from this action.

ADC seeks answers from Sec. Vilsack on pricing changes, hearing criteria

American Dairy Coalition sent a letter this week to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack seeking answers, dairy farmer representation, working group formation, and action on a national federal milk pricing hearing.
The letter also addresses the industry discussion of ‘make allowance’ adjustments.
“Farmers experience the same areas of input cost increases as processors,” the ADC board states in its letter. “We believe any move to increase the make allowance credits for processors should be linked to achieving adequate, transparent milk pricing for farmers. The linkage helps ensure farmer representation.”
During a Wisconsin dairy farm visit in December 2021, the Secretary said the dairy industry must reach a consensus before USDA will consider a national hearing on federal milk pricing changes.
“We ask you to provide us with the specific requirements that will meet your expectations,” the ADC letter requests, noting there is an industry-wide consensus that the Class I milk pricing change made in the 2018 Farm Bill needs amending, though there are differences in how this should be accomplished.
ADC points out that this change was made legislatively without a vetted hearing process.
“Our voice was pre-empted in the last Farm Bill… and our dairy farmer members paid the price for that. We do not want to see this happen again,” the letter confirms.
“Dairy farmers share a strong consensus that ‘righting this wrong’ is a great place to start in opening an FMMO hearing,” ADC relates in the letter, explaining how the organization has met virtually with dairy farmers across the country over the past 20 months, conducted surveys, spoke with industry experts and conducted two well-attended Future of Federal Milk Pricing Forums in 2022.
“It is necessary to return to the previous Class I mover formula now, while the industry continues building consensus about what milk pricing might look like in the future,” the letter declares, noting the change from the ‘higher of’ to an ‘average-plus’ formula for Class I milk has resulted in the inequitable loss of $3B to dairy farmers -- including the $750 million cumulative devaluation of Class I since May 2019, which created an environment for massive de-pooling and negative PPDs further affecting farm milk in all classes. The letter cites additional losses by farmers for premiums paid on risk management tools that failed to protect them from the dysfunction that ensued and has undermined their confidence in these tools.
The letter cites language from the 2018 Farm Bill legislation, which provided for the formula to be changed via USDA administrative hearing two years after its 2019 implementation.

American Agri-Women Release Farm Bill Recommendations

American Agri-Women (AAW) released the recommendations of their Farm Bill Task Force this week. AAW President Heather Hampton+Knodle said their philosophy is to focus on fundamentals of on-farm flexibility, access to capital and programs, and promotion of US-grown products.

“Innovation happens every day on farms and ranches. Our members were concerned by prescriptive requirements in conservation programs that limit their abilities to manage on-the-ground, real-time decisions that will ultimately be the best for the soils, plants and animals in their local environment,” said Hampton+Knodle.

AAW recommends conservation programs that allow farmers and ranchers flexibility in selecting their choice of private industry technical experts and service providers that meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) technical criteria and qualifications. Members also endorsed removing criteria from easements that limit livestock grazing patterns during hunting seasons. Enabling joint research capabilities between NRCS and institutions of higher learning with qualified agriculture programs and setting easement rates below local cash rent rates were other points within the Conservation section.

Hampton+Knodle noted that another example of flexibility to farm can be seen with the expansion of precision agriculture technologies and their ability to tailor cropping patterns and land management decisions within fields. She said that’s a reason why the organization supports applying conservation funding to accelerate adoption of technologies for varied farm sizes and applications in conjunction with expanded on-farm research trials.

AAW highlighted the need to have consistent definitions for terms of ‘disadvantaged’, ‘rural’, and ‘underserved’ through USDA programs. Hampton+Knodle said, “Our members also want the government to abide by eligibility requirements that recognize women as disadvantaged farmers and consider any young farmer who may have experience earning income from farming or ranching through their high school and college years as eligible for ‘beginning farmer’ grant and loan programs.”

The document features support for cornerstone programs of the Farm Bill such as continuing food and nutrition programs, sustaining crop insurance as a risk management tool, and investing in research at a range of universities and USDA labs as well as recommendations for rural development programs and active forest management. The Task Force engaged members ranging from west coast wineries and timber production, sunbelt produce growers, to canned vegetable bean, sugar beet, cotton, wheat, soybean and corn production in the Midwest and exporters, meat and potato processing on the east coast.

AAW is the nation’s largest coalition of women in farming, ranching and agribusiness, representing women in 42 states. The 2022 version of the 2023 Farm Bill Recommendations can be found at www.americanagriwomen.org or directly at https://americanagriwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/2022-FARM-BILL-2023-WHITE-PAPER.pdf.

USDA Sets Dates for Honey Packers and Importers Research and Promotion Program Continuance Referendum

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced today that it will conduct a referendum Aug. 8-26, 2022, for eligible first handlers and importers of honey or honey products to decide whether to continue the Honey Packers and Importers Research, Promotion, Consumer Education and Industry Information Order.

The Order shall continue if it is favored by a majority of first handlers and importers voting in the referendum and a majority of volume voting in the referendum, who, during a representative period determined by the Secretary, have been engaged in the handling or importation of honey or honey products.

To vote in the referendum, first handlers and importers must have handled or imported 250,000 pounds or more of honey or honey products during the representative period Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2021, and are subject to assessment under the program.

AMS will conduct the referendum by express mail and electronic ballot. AMS staff will express mail ballots and voting instructions to all known eligible first handlers and importers of honey or honey products before the voting period. Any eligible first handler or importer who does not receive a ballot by Aug. 8, 2022, should contact referendum agent Katie Cook, Marketing Specialist, at (202) 617-4760 or (202) 720-9915, or email Katie.Cook@usda.gov. Completed ballots delivered to AMS via express mail or electronic means must be delivered no later than 11:59 p.m. ET on Aug. 26, 2022.

The Federal Register Notice was published in the Federal Register on May 31, 2022.

The referendum, known as a continuance referendum, is required by law to be held every seven years. More information about referendum procedures is in Subpart B of the Honey Packers and Importers Research, Promotion, Consumer Education and Industry Information Order. For more information about the Board, visit the National Honey Board page.

Shell, INDYCAR To Introduce 100% Renewable Race Fuel in 2023

Shell and INDYCAR are continuing their sustainability journey together by announcing a lineup of additional energy solutions for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) ahead of the prestigious Indianapolis 500. Together and separately, the organizations have designed a variety of sustainability initiatives that will help to reduce the carbon footprint within INDYCAR and power progress toward more sustainable motorsports in North America.

“The fuel and lubricant, and energy solutions developed through our strategic relationship with INDYCAR and Penske Corporation can ultimately help accelerate reduced carbon emissions from transport in many sectors of the economy,” said Carlos Maurer, executive vice president of Sectors and Decarbonization at Shell. “Shell’s motorsports technical alliances around the world provide a testing ground for fuel and lubricant technologies and products in demanding road conditions.”

Shell 100% Renewable Race Fuel

Building on the sponsorship contract renewal and extension announced on May 26 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Shell will be the official fuel, motor oil and lubricant sponsor of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

Beginning in 2023, Shell will produce a new race fuel for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. This new product consists of a blend of second-generation ethanol derived from sugarcane waste and other biofuels to create a fuel that is 100% comprised of feedstocks categorized as "renewable" under the applicable regulatory frameworks.

The fuel developed by Shell is set to make the NTT INDYCAR SERIES the first United States-based motorsports series to power racing with 100% renewable race fuel and enables at least 60% greenhouse gas emissions reduction compared to fossil-based gasoline.

“This race fuel development for INDYCAR is a great example of how fuels technology is pivotal in helping decarbonize the sport,” said Dr. Selda Gunsel, president of Shell Global Solutions. “Today’s development takes us one step closer to that goal.”

The second-generation ethanol will be sourced from Raízen, a Brazilian Joint-Venture created in 2011 by Shell and Cosan. Raízen is one of the largest sugarcane ethanol producers in the world and owner of the first commercial second-generation ethanol plant.

“It is an honor for Raízen to contribute advanced ethanol to this renewable race fuel, and it’s an exciting introduction to one of the most iconic motorsport categories,” said Ricardo Mussa, Raízen CEO.

“Motorsports has always been at the forefront of innovation and technology, and today INDYCAR is furthering this tradition in a very important and transformational way,” said Mark Miles, president & CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp. “We are proud to become a leader in sustainability and decarbonization as we work towards becoming the first U.S. motorsport series to run on renewable fuel. With industry-leading organizations like Shell and Penske sharing the same ambition for a cleaner energy future, remarkable progress can be made.”

Friday, May 27, 2022

Friday May 27 Ag News

Conditions Favor Seedling Diseases in Early Planted Corn and Soybeans
Tamra Jackson-Ziems - Extension Plant Pathologist
Dylan Mangel - Extension Plant Pathologist

Heavy rains and cool soils throughout the state may favor the development of seedling diseases, which could impact corn and soybean emergence. These conditions come at a poor time in crop development as they favor several of the most common and damaging seedling diseases. As these conditions continue, be sure to monitor seedling emergence and stand establishment to detect potential problems as early as possible.

Corn and soybean crops suffer from several common soil fungal and fungal-like organisms. These pathogens include Pythium, Fusarium and Rhizoctonia. Soybeans face an additional threat from the fungal-like organism Phytophthora.

While all four of these pathogens are common, they often result in some form of pre- or post-emergence damping off, which can be difficult to differentiate during diagnosis. Many management options may be the same for these pathogens, however, some seed treatments work best for control of specific pathogens. These symptoms are also easily confused with insect injury, herbicide damage, planting problems, or environmental stresses that often cause similar symptoms. A proper diagnosis may be beneficial for more targeted management in the next season.

Following are brief descriptions of corn and soybean seedling pathogens.


Wet conditions are favorable for Pythium, which is our most common seedling disease of soybean in Nebraska. Cooler soil temperatures will make this worse as the seedling will be stressed and grow more slowly.

Typical symptoms of Pythium will include seed decay, pre-emergent seedling rot, and seedling damping off after emergence. If the plant has emerged, it often can have a root system where the outer layer can be easily pulled off and the center of the root will stay intact. In corn, dark lesions may develop on the mesocotyl or root system.

Rhizoctonia Root Rot

Rhizoctonia is favored by drier conditions and will occur more commonly in sandy or well-drained loamy soil types. On soybeans and corn, Rhizoctonia will be evident as reddish-brown lesions on the lower stem (typically at the soil level). In corn, seedlings may die and rot below the soil surface. These plants are often characterized by water-soaked and dark mesocotyl tissue that can be removed revealing the white inner vascular tissue.

Fusarium Root Rot

Fusarium is commonly favored by dryer conditions and in sandy or well-drained loamy soil types. Infected soybean crops will have stunted plants with brown to black discoloration on the roots (often in the lower portion of the root system). In corn, root systems may appear small with brown to black discoloration.

Phytophthora – Soybean Only

As soil conditions warm up, Phytophthora often will become more common with heavy rains. Fields will typically have a history of this disease, which will flare up when rain events saturate soil profiles. Phytophthora is often culpable when a field was planted with a standard rate of seed treatment but still has significant stand reduction when wet conditions occur. This will be a field-specific issue and usually does not occur as often as Pythium.

Typical symptoms of Phytophthora are seed decay and pre-emergence seedling rot, and seedling damping off after emergence. Typical symptoms on seedlings are darkened stems at the base of the plant coming up from the soil line. When young plants are cut at the lower stem, often there will be a dark center to the stem. Phytophthora can kill plants at any stage of development, but Pythium typically does not kill plants much past the V5 growth stage.


Management of seedling diseases can be achieved by improving field conditions for seedlings. Improving drainage of low-lying wet areas can help reduce the incidence and severity of some seedling diseases. Another option is delaying planting until more favorable conditions exist for rapid germination and emergence. However, delaying planting too long can negatively impact yield potential.

The most common method for disease management is the use of seed treatment fungicides. Most seed corn is already treated with more than one seed treatment fungicide — often an insecticide — and sometimes with a nematicide. These products can provide protection against some of the pathogens that cause seedling diseases; however, they only provide protection during the first few weeks immediately after planting. Despite their activity, diseases may still develop, such as during extended periods of inclement weather or under severe pathogen pressure. Often greater seed treatment options are available for soybeans as they are not pre-treated. This allows more specific targeting of the pathogen and emphasizes why a proper diagnosis is important.

Some fungicides now also are labeled for application at planting, in or near the seed furrow. Use of fungicides at planting may provide some additional protection against these and other pathogens, but more research needs to be conducted to better predict their potential benefits, interactions and potential economic return.

You can minimize the likelihood of developing seedling diseases by planting high quality seed at appropriate planting depths and soil conditions to support rapid plant growth and emergence.

Nebraska Farmer Participation Needed in Multi-State Survey

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in collaboration with Kansas State University and The Ohio State University, is looking for farmers to participate in a multi-state survey.

The goal of this project is to evaluate farmer's views and approaches to on-farm research. Additionally, this survey will assess motivation of farmers to participate in on-farm research as well as the importance of on-farm research to their operations. Information collected from this project will help promote on-farm research and improve engagement between farmers and university Extension systems.

The short survey only takes 5-10 minutes to complete and will not need any information from your records. Your responses are completely voluntary and anonymous. Please fill out the survey by June 15. The survey is at https://kstate.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_71iwM5FE0zhSW10.  


– Jerry Volesky, NE Extension Pasture & Forage Specialist

It is close to the ideal time to plant a summer annual grass, maybe to build hay supply or have some extra grazing.  Which one will you plant?
Choosing a summer forage can be confusing because there are six different types of major summer annual forage grasses.  These include: sudangrass, sorghum-sudan hybrids, forage sorghum (which we often call cane or sorgo), foxtail millet, pearl millet, and teff.  Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses.  So, base your choice primarily on how you plan to use it.
For example, do you want pasture?  Then use sudangrass or pearl millet.  Both are leafy, they regrow rapidly, and they contain less danger from prussic acid poisoning than other annual grasses.
What if you want hay or green chop?  Then select sorghum-sudan hybrids or pearl millet because they yield well and they have good feed value when cut two or three times.  On sandy soils, or when conditions are dry, foxtail millet may be a better choice for summer hay.  It dries fast, doesn't regrow after cutting, and handles dry soils well.  Cane hay is grown in many areas and produces high tonnage, but it’s lower in feed value and dries more slowly after cutting than the hybrids or millets.  Or you could choose teff for a really soft, leafy, high quality horse hay.
Maybe you plan to chop silage.  Then choose the forage sorghums, especially hybrids with high grain production.  They can't be beat for tonnage or for feed value.
While there are several choices of summer annual forages, simply select the one that is best adapted to the way you plan to use it.  And, of course, hope for rain since even these grasses won’t grow without some moisture.

– Brad Schick, NE Extension Educator

Corn and soybeans are still getting planted due to a cool start to the year. Alfalfa too has been behind compared to most years, and first cutting may need to happen sooner than expected or than preferred.
The lack of soil moisture last fall and through the winter, slow start to spring rains, and cool temperatures slowed alfalfa growth this spring. With recent precipitation and warm weather, alfalfa has resumed growth quickly. Those needing dairy quality hay may need to cut very soon. The quality of first cutting hay declines rapidly with growth much more than the second, third, or forth cuttings.
Those wanting to maximize quantity to replenish hay reserves, may want to wait just a little longer until almost full bloom to produce higher yields. Alfalfa will be more efficient with what soil moisture is available if cutting waits until bloom, but this doesn’t always match the plans for an operation. If an operation needs a roughage source, this higher yield and lower quality is better. However, if an operation needs a protein source, cutting earlier to produce a higher quality hay will need to be done.
Whatever quality and quantity of alfalfa an operation needs, cutting timing is critical.

Free Farm and Ag Law Clinics Set for June

Free legal and financial clinics are being offered for farmers and ranchers across the state in May. The clinics are one-on-one in-person meetings with an agricultural law attorney and an agricultural financial counselor. These are not group sessions, and they are confidential.

The attorney and financial advisor specialize in legal and financial issues related to farming and ranching, including financial and business planning, transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, debt structure and cash flow, agricultural disaster programs, and other relevant matters. Here is an opportunity to obtain an independent, outside perspective on issues that may be affecting your farm or ranch.

Clinic Dates
    Wednesday, June 1 — Fairbury
    Tuesday, June 7 — Norfolk
    Tuesday, June 14 — Grand Island
    Tuesday, June 21 — Norfolk

To sign up for a free clinic or to get more information, call the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 1-800-464-0258. Funding for this work is provided by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska.


The Nebraska Ethanol Board will meet in Lincoln at 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 8. The meeting will be at Hyatt Place (600 Q Street) in meeting rooms I-III. Highlights of the agenda include:
    Budget Report & Budget Planning Fiscal Year 2022-23
    Fuel Retailer Update
    Nebraska Corn Board Update
    Renewable Fuels Nebraska Update
    Technical & Research Updates
    Marketing Programs
    Funding Requests
    NEB-hosted Conferences & Events
    State and Federal Legislation
    Ethanol Plant Reports

This agenda contains all items to come before the Board except those items of an emergency nature.  Nebraska Ethanol Board meetings are open to the public and also published on the public calendar.

The Nebraska Ethanol Board works to ensure strong public policy and consumer support for biofuels. Since 1971, the independent state agency has designed and managed programs to expand production, market access, worker safety and technology innovation, including recruitment of producers interested in developing conventional ethanol, as well as bio-products from the ethanol platform. For more information, visit www.ethanol.nebraska.gov.

Washington County Cattlemen Affiliate Meeting
June 6 - 6 pm social 7 pm meal
Morgan Rhea masladek93@hotmail.com
Clark Volk shop.crv77@gmail.com    402-478-4215

Northeast Nebraska Cattlemen Steak Fry
June 12 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm    
Wayne Co Fairgrounds, Wayne, NE

Platte Valley Cattlemen & NC Farmer Stockman Tour
June 20 @ 12:30 pm - 8:00 pm    

Northeast Community College to host popular Backyard Farmer television program

The public is invited to Northeast Community College on Tues., June 7 to take part in the popular Nebraska Public Media (NPM) program, “Backyard Farmer.”

The show will be taped beginning at 6 p.m. that day near the Lifelong Learning Center on the Norfolk campus, weather permitting, or inside of the Chuck M. Pohlman Ag Complex, in case of inclement weather. A question-and-answer session will be held from 5:15 – 5:45, according to  program host, Kim Todd.

“People can bring samples if they want to and stand up and ask their question, or they can also put the question on a small card and hand it up,” Todd said. “I try to mix the questions up, so they aren’t all on one subject. And if we don’t get to all the questions, the audience can meet with the panelists after we finish taping.”

“Questions for the show itself come to me in the BYF inbox,” Todd explained, “and I will have sorted them and sent the pictures to Nebraska Public Media a few days before so they can be preloaded.”

Todd, an associate professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and extension horticulture specialist, has been hosting Backyard Farmer for 18 years. She believes the Norfolk show will be unique for two reasons. Backyard Farmer is usually taped live in the Lincoln studios of NPM, but approximately three times a year, the show is taped at a remote location. To the best of anyone’s knowledge, the June 7 show at Northeast will be the first time the show has ever originated in Norfolk.

Todd said the panel for this show - Kaitlin Chapman, Nebraska Extension entomologist; Amy Timmerman, Nebraska Extension plant pathologist; Terri James, Nebraska Extension educator and Kelly Feehan, Nebraska Extension Educator – Platte County – is also a first.

“That’s the first time in Backyard Farmer history for an all-female panel,” Todd said.

Each panelist will be assigned to one of four topic chairs.

“In order of the way they sit, the chairs are entomology, or the bug chair,” Todd said. “Then turf and weeds, then pathology that we call ‘rots and spots,’ and then horticulture that covers everything from growing vegetables to trees.”

Feehan will be in the horticulture chair. She already has some idea of the questions she will be asked.

“Winter and drought related questions are our most common right now,” Feehan said. “Things like winter desiccation and winter injury on plants, not because it was so cold, but because we had such extremes.”

Feehan encourages audience members to bring their concerns to the question-and-answer portion that begins at 5:15. And she said it is important to bring a sample or a photograph.

“If it’s a tree or shrub, maybe bring a branch that has a number of leaves on it,” she said. “Pictures are great, too, especially a picture that shows the whole plant so we can see the pattern of the problem.”

Dr. Trentee Bush, horticulture instructor at Northeast, said the idea of bringing Backyard Farmer to the Norfolk campus was first discussed in 2019, but the COVID pandemic put off any plans for remote broadcasts.

“I studied horticulture in undergraduate and grad school at UNL,” Bush said, “Backyard Farmer was always on my radar, and I know a lot of the panelists. Kim Todd, the host, was my graduate advisor.”

Jill Heemstra, Northeast ag program director, is coordinating logistics for the event.

“Having an event like this involves a lot of communication and a lot of people all pulling in the same direction,” Heemstra said. “When you get down to the brass tacks, you have to think about access to electricity, the possible noise level, where will the sun be at that time of day, what is something scenic in the background.“

Heemstra said visitors will not be able to turn left toward the Lifelong Learning Center, 601 E. Benjamin Ave., after entering from the main college entrance on Benjamin Ave. The best option for parking for those attending the Backyard Farmer taping will be in the Maclay building parking lot. Parking will also be available in the Lifelong Learning Center or Cox Activities Center parking lots. Guests wishing to park there will need to either enter campus through the west entrance off Benjamin Ave., or use the main entrance, turn right, and drive completely around the loop road. Signs will help direct traffic on June 7.

Heemstra said hosting Backyard Farmer on the Northeast campus is a great opportunity for the local community and for the College.

“You don’t have to talk to very many people in Nebraska before you find somebody who knows about Backyard Farmer and watches the program,” she said.

Backyard Farmer claims to be “the longest running locally produced program in television history.” It first aired in 1953 on KFOR-TV, moving to KUON-TV, Nebraska educational television’s flagship station, a year later. In the 1960s, Backyard Farmer had the highest rating of any educational broadcast in the United States.

“Backyard Farmer” airs Thursdays at 7 p.m. through September. It repeats at 10 a.m. on Saturdays on Nebraska Public Media and at 4 p.m. Sundays and 5 p.m. Mondays on Create TV.

IDALS Announces Cost Share Funds for Soil Health and Water Quality Practices

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced today that farmers and landowners can now sign up for state cost share funds. These funds help farmers adopt soil health and water quality practices, including planting cover crops, transitioning acres to no-till/strip-till soil management or applying a nitrification inhibitor.

“Iowa farmers and landowners continue to rise to the challenge of improving our state’s soil health and water quality by implementing new conservation practices,” said Secretary Naig. “I encourage all farmers and landowners to look for opportunities to add new conservation practices to their fields to help protect our land for future generations and make measurable progress toward our water quality goals. This program is a great way to get started.”

Farmers who are planting cover crops for the first time are eligible for $25 per acre through the cost share fund. Farmers who have already experienced the benefits of using cover crops and are continuing the practice can receive $15 per acre. Producers transitioning acres to no-till or strip-till are eligible for $10 per acre, and may receive $3 per acre for applying fall fertilizer using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor.

Cost share funding through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is limited to 160 acres per farmer or landowner. The funds will be made available in July, but farmers can start submitting applications immediately through their local Soil and Water Conservation District offices. Farmers are encouraged to call their Soil and Water Conservation District offices to inquire about additional cost-share funds available through other sources.

With farmers stewarding more than two million acres of cover crops across the state, Iowa continues to be a conservation leader. Last fall, over 3,500 farmers and landowners enrolled in the cost share program funded through the Water Quality Initiative. More than 413,000 acres of cover crops, 13,700 acres of no-till/strip-till and 5,400 acres of nitrification inhibitors were enrolled in the program in 2021. An estimated $14 million of private funding was invested to match the $6.9 million contributed by the state. To learn more about the soil health and water quality projects underway around Iowa, visit cleanwateriowa.org.

Fundraising Begins for 40th Annual Iowa Governor's Charity Steer Show

Today, the Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, and the Office of the Governor of Iowa launched its fundraising for the Iowa Governor’s Charity Steer Show (GCSS). In 1983, Gov. Terry Branstad joined forces with the Iowa Beef Industry Council and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association to organize GCSS.  

“I continue to be amazed by the generosity of Iowans when it comes to supporting the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Iowa. It’s been 40 years since I teamed up with the Iowa Beef Industry Council and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association to organize the first Governor’s Charity Steer Show. To know this event has raised more than $4.5 million to support more than 50,000 families in need means so much to me," said Terry Branstad, former governor of Iowa and U.S. ambassador to China. "Let’s make this Governor’s Charity Steer Show the best yet! Help us meet our fundraising goal of $400,000 for the 40th anniversary. Together we can make a difference.”

Last year’s show raised $375,265.92 for the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Iowa, with houses in Des Moines, Iowa City, and Sioux City. Since 1981, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Iowa have served over 50,000 families from all 50 states and 62 foreign countries. Gov. Kim Reynolds carries on the tradition, which supports families of sick children.

“As your Governor, I have strived to keep this show moving forward and growing by the year,” Gov. Reynolds said. “We didn’t let COVID-19 or the derecho slow us down. The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and Iowa Beef Industry Council continue to raise the bar, and the cattle producers of Iowa have helped this show become what it is today. Let’s celebrate the accomplishments of the past 40 years, but let’s continue to work forward.”

Iowa’s cattle industry plays a big role in the Governor’s Charity Steer Show. Iowa Cattlemen’s Association president Bob Noble offered the following comments:

“Iowa cattle producers, from all corners of the state, assist in the implementation of the Governor’s Charity Steer Show. Cattlemen care, and that is made evident by our involvement in organizations throughout our communities,” Noble said. “The highly anticipated Iowa Governor’s Charity Steer Show displays our dedication to fellow Iowans, especially during their time of need. We hope to raise additional funds for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Iowa, so they may continue to support Iowa families.”

The 40th Annual Iowa Governor’s Charity Steer Show will be held  at 4 p.m. on Saturday, August 13. Please join us in supporting the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Iowa by visiting www.iowagovernorscharitysteershow.com.

USMEF Spring Conference Spotlights U.S.-China Trade Relations, Innovative Promotions for U.S. Red Meat

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) concluded its spring conference Friday in San Antonio. The three-day meeting examined a number of key issues for U.S. exporters while also updating members on promotional activities for U.S. pork, beef and lamb in a wide range of international markets.

Thursday's general session focused on agricultural trade relations between the U.S. and China, including a deep dive into the market access gains achieved for U.S. beef and pork through the 2020 Phase One Trade and Economic Agreement.

Guest panelist for the session was former Iowa governor Terry Branstad, who had a front-row seat for the tumultuous negotiations that led to the agreement, as he was serving as U.S. ambassador to China under the Trump administration. Branstad was joined on the panel by Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, who is based in Hong Kong.

Offering a glimpse inside the talks, Branstad admitted early concerns about efforts to engage China more aggressively on trade.

“My respect for Ambassador (Robert) Lighthizer grew through the process,” Branstad said, referring to the U.S. trade representative at the time. “He was very focused, and worked really hard to build a personal relationship with the chief negotiator on the Chinese side, Liu He, who does have President Xi Jinping’s ear. That was critically important, and it was successful.”

Following adoption of the Phase One pact, Chinese purchases of U.S. agricultural products reached record levels, albeit still short of the targets outlined in the agreement. Now, two years after the agreement entered into force, Branstad said Chinese consumers remain committed to U.S. food products because they value the quality and safety.

Haggard noted that U.S. producers should not be overly concerned that the Phase One purchase targets were not reached. With improved market access, private entities in China made strong increases in their imports of U.S. agricultural goods according to their needs – which Haggard sees as the preferred path to increased trade.

“Would we in the meat sector have wanted Chinese state purchasers to go out and buy products just for the purpose of buying them, and disrupt the market?” Haggard asked. “That doesn’t serve orderly development of the market.”

Haggard praised the expanded opportunities resulting from the Phase One Agreement, which allowed China to quickly rise to the third largest destination for U.S. beef exports, trailing only South Korea and Japan. While the 2020 surge in U.S. pork exports to China was largely due to African swine fever's impact on China's domestic hog production, Phase One allowed far more U.S. pork producers and processing establishments to reap the benefits of China's increased need for imported pork.

The name "Phase One" implies there is unfinished business to be resolved in a second round of U.S.-China trade talks, but Branstad noted there are significant obstacles to striking up Phase Two negotiations.

“That’s going to be the hardest part because the Chinese government loves to subsidize their state-owned enterprises,” he said. “That’s market-distorting and it’s something we wanted to address, and frankly that's what didn’t get done in the Phase One agreement. I think it will be difficult to do, and the Biden administration hasn’t really shown any appetite for going after it.”

Promoting U.S. red meat in traditional retail settings

Friday’s closing session featured a panel discussion focused on USMEF marketing initiatives in traditional retail venues in selected markets. The rapid expansion of modern supermarket chains has created tremendous opportunities for U.S. red meat internationally, and the U.S. industry capitalizes through numerous partnerships, promotions and tasting demonstrations. But across the globe, millions of consumers still favor traditional settings such as wet markets and butcher shops, and there are significant opportunities for growth in this sector.

Jessica Spreitzer, USMEF’s director of trade analysis, moderated a panel discussion featuring Lorenzo Elizalde, USMEF director of marketing in Mexico, Dave Rentoria, USMEF Philippines representative, and Maria Ruiz, USMEF Colombia representative. Spreitzer acknowledged that the pandemic had accelerated the global shift in food sales toward modern retail, but emphasized that traditional venues continue to hold their own in the increasingly competitive retail space. In fact, according to Euromonitor International, the traditional marketplace sector is a $3 trillion business that accounts for 41% of global grocery sales, and Spreitzer maintains that these markets still dominate sales in many countries in Southeast Asia and Latin America.

Rentoria explained that with domestic production impacted by African swine fever, the Philippine government recently lowered pork import tariffs to attract more imported pork and stabilize supplies. U.S. pork had traditionally been used as raw material for further processing in the Philippines, but is now being sold in significant volumes through foodservice outlets and in traditional wet markets. The U.S. pork industry has a great opportunity to expand demand through this channel, especially as these venues become better equipped to handle frozen pork. USMEF has implemented a three-phase program to assess Philippine consumers' perceptions about imported pork and especially U.S. pork, and to increase sales through direct consumer outreach.

Ruiz talked about the growing butcher shop sector in Colombia, where an estimated 40 to 50% of imported meat is sold. Butcher shops fill a growing need between traditional wet markets and modern retail, she explained, and this offers an opportunity to work closely with major importers who either own or affiliate with butcher shops. The USMEF Butcher Shop Program is a relationship-building strategy developed to improve numerous operational aspects with the goal of increasing sales of U.S. pork and beef. The program has three distinct phases – diagnosis, planning and execution – in which USMEF guides these shops on ways to better merchandise and promote U.S. pork and beef products. The program has helped increase U.S. red meat sales at several locations and more shops are looking to participate.

Elizalde outlined the new product development approach that USMEF-Mexico has implemented at retail to better position U.S. pork as a value-added product. Elizalde discussed several of the new products USMEF has helped develop and promote with targeted Mexican processors. New products are promoted in traditional markets through product sampling, use of a USMEF mobile grill and kitchen and on a wide range of social media platforms.

The conference got underway Wednesday with presentations from USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom and keynote speaker and acclaimed author Peter Zeihan. More details on the opening session are available online.

In addition to the general sessions, standing committee meetings allowed USMEF members to receive updates on critical issues specifically impacting their sector. Breakout sessions for the USMEF Pork and Allied Industries Committee, Beef and Allied Industries Committee and Feedgrains and Oilseeds Caucus provided producers with market-specific insights into how their investments in USMEF marketing programs are being utilized. Committee members also received updates on the competitive landscape in key markets, as well as details on the impact of rising input costs for producers across the globe and on the effect of rising inflation on consumer spending. USMEF Exporter Committee members examined a broad range of trade barriers and market access obstacles, while also receiving updates on port congestion and other shipping and logistical challenges.

USMEF members will next meet at the organization's annual strategic planning conference, which is set for Nov. 9-11 in Oklahoma City.

Record-setting Number of Ethanol and Biofuels Producers Set to Attend the 2022 FEW

Ethanol Producer Magazine and BBI International released conference data regarding the number of attendees and biofuels producers set to attend this year’s International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo (FEW) taking place, June 13-15, 2022, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In all categories the data showed record-breaking numbers. The total number of attendees who are producers of ethanol, biodiesel, renewable diesel, cellulosic ethanol, sustainable aviation fuel or other advanced biofuels is on pace to be close to 600 attendees. The total number of exhibitors inside the expo hall is currently at 340 and is expected to grow.

“This is a must-attend event if you are connected to the ethanol industry,” says John Nelson, vice president of operations, sales and marketing at BBI International. “We are extremely pleased with the excitement surrounding this year’s FEW and the numbers are proof that this will be one of the largest events to date. It will be the largest FEW since 2009.”

180 presentations fill the agenda at this year’s International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo, as well as the co-located events. All FEW registered attendees are able to attend the sessions for the Biodiesel & Renewable Diesel Summit and the preconference events, the Carbon Capture & Storage Summit and Ethanol 101. Both preconference events are taking place Monday, June 13th.

“There is a massive amount of content for attendees this year, including sessions on sustainable aviation fuel,” said Tim Portz, program director for the FEW. “With the Carbon Capture Summit, Ethanol 101, and the Biodiesel & Renewable Diesel Summit available to all attendees, this is the best place to be if you are interested in learning about biofuels technology advancements and policy that is directing the industry.”

The 38th annual FEW Policy Keynote Address will be given by Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. Skor is expected to discuss the industry’s focus on permanently restoring year-round access to E15, among many other industry priorities.

Following Skor’s address, a panel of industry association leaders includes: Chris Bliley, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Growth Energy; Troy Bredenkamp, Senior Vice President, Government and Public Affairs, Renewable Fuels Association; and Brian Jennings, CEO, American Coalition for Ethanol.

A Producer Keynote Address will be given by Todd Becker, President, CEO and Director of Green Plains Inc. Immediately after, Bruce Rastetter, CEO of Summit Agricultural Group, will close out the general session with a highly anticipated update on the planned Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline.

USDA Warns of Possible Phishing Scheme Targeting Its Food Purchase Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is warning vendors who wish to participate in USDA food purchase programs of a possible phishing scheme. The fake emails look like they are solicitations for bids sent by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which manages USDA’s food purchase programs.

In one version of the phony email the body of the message refers to a “bid for the supply of products and services for the Department of Agriculture Projects. While you consider a response, please take note that bids will be submitted electronically after you login our procurement system.” The email goes on to say “Documents and Invitation can be accessed via the following link…”

If you receive an email like the one described above, DO NOT RESPOND OR CLICK ANY OF THE LINKS and IMMEDIATELY DELETE the original email.

Official solicitations for USDA bidding opportunities are distributed through GovDelivery and are available on the AMS Commodity Procurement Program Solicitations and Awards webpage.

For more information about this issue, contact the Commodity Procurement Program at (202)-720-4517.

Thursday May 26 Ag News

 Irrigation management can provide better quantity and quality groundwater

Farming is a gamble - risks are taken, markets fluctuate, storms and droughts occur.  Some things are just out of our control.  But what producers do have control over, are the decisions they make about the conservation and protection of our groundwater resource.

Crystal Powers, Research and Extension Communication Specialist, with the University of Nebraska Water Center, was the guest speaker at the May committee meeting of the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Board of Directors.  Powers began with, “How many of you play pitch?  We’re currently teaching our boys, ages 8 and 10, to play the game.  The hardest part for a new player is learning how to use the cards they’ve been dealt.  They understand the points, but it’s figuring out when to hold them or fold them that makes the difference in the game.  You might have an ace, but if you can’t protect your 3…big impact, but you may not end up winning the hand.  As we think about the game of pitch, we can relate it at the field level and begin to understand the complex strategy needed to improve outcomes.”

It’s often been said that we’re doing the best we can to protect our natural resources, but are we?  Powers continued, “Some would argue that with the current farming practices and management styles, we’ve got it all under control, the problems we have with nitrate in our groundwater stem from old farming practices from years ago.  But, as we dive into the topic of irrigation management, we find this is often not the case.”

One of the ways we can study the impact that farming practices have on the land and water is by doing vadose zone sampling – from the surface all the way through the root zone to the groundwater.

A vadose zone study in the Hastings area, completed by UNL, has shown a 30% increase in nitrate leaching over a 5-year period from 2011-2016.

Excess irrigation can potentially cause further nitrate leaching.  The goal with in-season irrigation is to only apply what the crop needs.  The penalty is 5-8 lbs. on N loss per inch of root zone drainage.  This level can go up or down according to soil, available nitrate, and water use.  Soil moisture sensors can help producers know exactly what the plant needs and how much to apply when.

A study in the Upper Big Blue NRD showed that 56% of fields received excess irrigation from 2017-2020.  This was determined by using soil moisture sensors.  Powers said, “You can go down 3-4 feet and if there’s moisture in the root zone, you do not need to water.  When looking at the potential for over-watering, sometimes it’s early in the season, sometimes it’s throughout the growing season, sometimes it’s late.  So, we have things we can do.  This is good news.  We’re all about continuous improvement.”

How can we tackle this problem?  Start at field level, one field at a time.  Ask yourself, how is the land used, and what is the crop management system?  The risk is the vulnerability of the land, combined with what we do with it and how we do it.  Powers listed deficit scheduling, water meters, soil moisture sensors, and weather data, water management tools to prevent further nitrate leaching.

Aquifer vulnerability can also play a huge role in the quality of our groundwater.  Groundwater vulnerability can be noticed in Community Wellhead Protection Areas, sandier soils that are harder to manage, the depth to groundwater in a particular location, wetland or ponding areas that push water down in the aquifer. The AEM data, funded by the NRD, helps captures the locations of underground aquifers and understand their vulnerability.

Powers added, “Think of your high cards as your land use.  The least amount of risk for nitrate leaching is pasture ground, then turf, then cropland – dryland, pivot, furrow, and then concentrated areas in feed yards.  The more you move your land into these intense uses, the higher the risk of loss of nitrogen.”

Off-season soil water storage is also a critical component in the risk for leaching.  Powers continued, “Fields often get left wet in the fall, and when winter precipitation comes, there is no storage available.  It’s important to leave the soil as dry as you can in the fall.  Because our aquifers recharge in the winter, there is never enough storage, and every drop of off-season moisture causes leaching if there is excess nitrate in the soil.”

Cover crops can also help with off-season storage.  The live plant transpires some of that water to help with the storage deficit and ties up excess nitrate.

Moving this data into decisions leads to precision management.  Variable rate irrigation is another option that can help producers adjust and fine tune the application process field by field.

Powers concluded, “Not only can irrigation scheduling increase the benefits of water quantity, but it can also boost the water quality by limiting excess water moving through the root zone to the water table.  We are all together in this.  As partnering agencies, we need to work hand in hand with the growers to further manage our resources for the future.”

LENRD Scholarships awarded to area graduates

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) recently awarded four scholarships to area High School graduates.  The $500 scholarships were given to graduating seniors, within the district, who are planning to further their education in a natural resources or agriculture related field.

The four graduates selected to receive the scholarships were:  Amanda Sellin of Norfolk, Levi Schiller of Scribner, Trevor Doerr of Creighton, and Savannah Siebrandt of Stanton.

Amanda Sellin is a graduate of Norfolk Senior High School.  She plans to attend Chadron State College and pursue a degree in Agricultural Law.  Amanda is the daughter of Todd & Rhonda Sellin.

Levi Schiller is a graduate of West Point-Beemer High School.  He plans to attend the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and major in Agricultural Education & Leadership.  Levi is the son of Chris & Michelle.

Trevor Doerr is a graduate of Plainview High School.  He plans to attend Northeast Community College in the fall to major in Mechanized Agriculture.  Trevor is the son of Eric & JoBeth Doerr.

Savannah Siebrandt is a graduate of Stanton Community Schools.  She will be attending Northeast Community College, majoring in Agriculture Education.  Savannah is the daughter of Jason & Alisha Siebrandt.

LENRD Information & Education Specialist, Julie Wragge, said, “We’re happy to support students across our district who are furthering their education in the field of natural resources.  We encourage all graduates to continue to protect and efficiently manage our natural resources for the future.”

 Fischer Presses Ag Secretary on Cattle Market Reform, Corn Exports to Mexico

At a hearing of the Senate Agriculture Committee today, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) pressed Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on issues of great importance to Nebraska agriculture.

During her questions, Fischer brought up her Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act and the need for price discovery and transparency in the cattle market. Senator Fischer discussed the legislation with Secretary Vilsack in March. The Senate Ag Committee held a hearing on Fischer’s bill last month.

Additionally, Secretary Vilsack committed to Senator Fischer that he would work with our trading partners in Mexico to provide certainty and market access for Nebraska corn producers.

Click here to watch the video.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ki-PoHiNC8I.  

USDA to Allow Producers to Request Voluntary Termination of Conservation Reserve Program Contract

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will allow Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) participants who are in the final year of their CRP contract to request voluntary termination of their CRP contract following the end of the primary nesting season for fiscal year 2022.

Participants approved for this one-time, voluntary termination will not have to repay rental payments, a flexibility implemented this year to help mitigate the global food supply challenges caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and other factors. Today, USDA also announced additional flexibilities for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).  

“Putin’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine has cut off a critical source of wheat, corn, barley, oilseeds, and cooking oil, and we’ve heard from many producers who want to better understand their options to help respond to global food needs,” said John Berge, USDA’s Farm Service Agency State Executive Director in Nebraska. “This announcement will help producers make informed decisions about land use and conservation options.”

FSA is mailing letters to producers with expiring acres that detail this flexibility and share other options, such as re-enrolling sensitive acres in the CRP Continuous signup and considering growing organic crops. Producers will be asked to make the request for voluntary termination in writing through their local USDA Service Center.  

If approved for voluntary termination, preparations can occur after the conclusion of the primary nesting season. In Nebraska the primary nesting season ends July 15. Producers will then be able to hay, graze, begin land preparation activities and plant a fall-seeded crop before October 1, 2022. For land in colder climates, this flexibility may allow for better establishment of a winter wheat crop or better prepare the land for spring planting.  

Organic Considerations
Since CRP land typically does not have a recent history of pesticide or herbicide application, USDA is encouraging producers to consider organic production. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial assistance to help producers plan and implement conservation practices, including those that work well for organic operations, such as pest management and mulching. Meanwhile, FSA offers cost-share for certification costs and other fees.

Other CRP Options
Participants can also choose to enroll all or part of their expiring acres into the Continuous CRP signup for 2022. Important conservation benefits may still be achieved by re-enrolling sensitive acres such as buffers or wetlands. Expiring water quality practices such as filter strips, grass waterways, and riparian buffers may be eligible to be re-enrolled under the Clean Lakes, Estuaries, and Rivers (CLEAR) and CLEAR 30 options under CRP. Additionally, expiring continuous CRP practices such as shelterbelts, field windbreaks, and other buffer practices may also be re-enrolled to provide benefits for organic farming operations.  

If producers are not planning to farm the land from their expiring CRP contract, the Transition Incentives Program (TIP) may also provide them two additional annual rental payments after their contract expires on the condition that they sell or rent their land to a beginning or veteran farmer or rancher or a member of a socially disadvantaged group.

Producers interested in the Continuous CRP signup, CLEAR 30, or TIP should contact FSA by Aug. 5, 2022.   

NRCS Conservation Programs
USDA also encourages producers to consider NRCS conservation programs, which help producers integrate conservation on croplands, grazing lands and other agricultural landscapes. EQIP and CSP can help producers plant cover crops, manage nutrients and improve irrigation and grazing systems. Additionally, the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), or state or private easement programs, may be such an option. In many cases, a combination of approaches can be taken on the same parcel. For example, riparian areas or other sensitive parts of a parcel may be enrolled in continuous CRP and the remaining land that is returned to farming can participate in CSP or EQIP and may be eligible to receive additional ranking points.

Other Flexibilities to Support Conservation
Additionally, NRCS is also offering a new flexibility for EQIP and CSP participants who have cover cropping included in their existing contracts. NRCS will allow participants to either modify their plans to plant a cover crop (and instead shift to a conservation crop rotation) or delay their cover crop plans a year, without needing to terminate the existing contract. This will allow for flexibility to respond to market signals while still ensuring the conservation benefits through NRCS financial and technical assistance for participating producers.

AFBF Welcomes USDA Flexibility to Meet Global Food Needs

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall welcomed today’s USDA announcement to allow flexibility for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) participants to terminate their contract if they’re in their final year in order to contribute to U.S. domestic production.

“AFBF appreciates USDA allowing farmers in their final year of CRP to terminate their contracts early. This decision will enable farmers to meet the demands of America’s families and help address overseas food supply challenges created by the war in Ukraine.

“CRP acres have been called on for emergency uses in the past and it’s appropriate now as we face the threat of a global food insecurity crisis, which is why we asked USDA back in March to provide flexibility within the program. America’s farmers have answered the call before, and they stand ready to continue meeting the responsibilities of delivering an abundant food supply here at home and abroad.”

Beef Specialist Highlights the Importance of Quality Assurance and Beef Month

May is beef month across the nation, which makes this an excellent time to highlight the importance of the cattle industry, as well as best practices for producing quality beef for consumers.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef specialist Denise Schwab explains the importance of the Beef Quality Assurance program in a new video featuring the partnership with the Iowa Beef Industry Council, beef producers and ISU Extension and Outreach

According to the Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa’s cattle industry contributed in excess of $7.32 billion in business activity to Iowa’s economy. The value of this industry to the state is important, as Iowa is an essential producer of beef nationwide and worldwide.

Advances in beef science as well as changes in consumer demand can create an opportunity for beef producers to produce higher quality beef, as a series of classes by the Iowa Beef Industry Council highlights. The classes, taught by extension experts, help producers to identify ways to produce nutritious and high-quality beef that meets consumer expectations.

Beef Quality Assurance classes highlight how simple changes can improve beef quality and animal health and wellbeing.

“The Beef Quality Assurance program contains nine components that we address every year,” explained Schwab. “The ones we probably put the most emphasis on have been stockmanship and animal handling, animal health and record keeping.”

Also, as consumers become more invested in how and where their beef is produced, a Beef Quality Assurance Certification can help to establish trust and transparency between producers and consumers.

“For producers, it’s really important to get certified because it’s telling consumers that as a producer you are educating yourself to improve the operation and you’re really taking food safety into consideration, which goes a long way to help us sell more beef,” added Schwab.

The video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLCjfGSbiaE), which highlights the benefits of the program and features several producers, is available on YouTube. For more information on the classes, including upcoming Beef Quality Assurance events, visit the Iowa Beef Industry Council Website https://www.iabeef.org/cattlemens-corner/iowa-bqa.

Iowa beef at a glance
    There were 3.85 million head of cattle in Iowa, as of Jan. 1, 2022.
    Iowa ranks seventh in the nation for the number of all cattle and calves.
    Cash receipts from Iowa cattle and calves topped $4 billion in 2021.
    More than 17,500 Iowa jobs are directly related to the cattle industry.
    There were 19,171 Iowa farms with beef cows, as of the 2017 census of agriculture.
    There were more than 1.17 million cattle on feed in Iowa as of Jan. 1, 2022.

Iowa Farm Bureau celebrates Iowa Legislature's passage of Biofuels Access Bill benefiting Iowans at the pump and supporting farmers

As the 2022 Iowa legislative session closes, Farm Bureau members applaud Governor Reynolds and the legislature for creating opportunities to increase biofuels promotion and usage in the state and look forward to the opportunities and benefits the Biofuels Access Bill will deliver.  Championed by Reynolds, and passed with bipartisan support, the new legislation will increase consumer access to E15, a cleaner burning, environmentally friendly fuel that’s homegrown in Iowa.  This measure will also create many opportunities to advance Iowa’s biofuels industry which supports 46,000 jobs across the state.       

“Iowa leads the nation in biofuels production, yet we lag neighboring states in usage,” said Iowa Farm Bureau President Brent Johnson.  “As gas prices hit record highs, Iowans will see a welcomed benefit at the pump from the savings offered by E15, and the increased demand for Iowa-raised grain supports farm families and rural communities.”

Legislators also approved a Farm Bureau-supported measure to support Iowa’s small-scale meat processors and boost butchery workforce training opportunities. Additionally, funding was increased for the Butchery Innovation and Revitalization Fund, which provides cost-share grants to small-scale meat processors, custom lockers, and mobile slaughter units to update, refurbish and expand processing capacity.

“We know that Iowans love locally-raised meat and the personal connection with the farmers who raise their food,” said Johnson.  “The bills passed this year will increase investments to expand local processing capacity, creating more opportunities for farmers to market their livestock locally and will provide additional opportunities for consumers to buy meat raised by local farmers.”

Iowa Farm Bureau members applaud the Iowa Legislature’s continued support of appropriations to advance water quality and being a partner in conservation progress.  

“As we continue our conservation efforts, these funds allow farmers, landowners, and public and private partners to continue to advance proven conservation practices to improve soil health and water quality,” Johnson said.   

“Farm Bureau’s success on priority issues during the 2022 legislative session shows the value of engaged members working with their local lawmakers and the effectiveness of our grassroots process as we work to make a positive impact for Iowa agriculture, farm families and our communities,” Johnson said.  

USMEF Spring Conference Examines Strong Global Demand Tempered by Growing Economic Challenges

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Spring Conference got underway Wednesday in San Antonio, attracting a diverse range of participants including pork, beef, lamb, corn and soybean producers, as well as packers, processors, exporters and traders from throughout the United States.

USMEF Chair Mark Swanson, who recently founded food safety consulting firm Tru Grit KGMS Enterprises LLC, welcomed attendees and urged them to take the opportunity to visit one-on-one with a strong contingent of USMEF's international staff from Asia, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. Due to COVID travel restrictions, this is the first time since 2019 that most of these staff members have participated in an in-person USMEF conference.

USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom followed with an overview of first quarter red meat export results, which were impressive despite mounting economic and logistical challenges. Halstrom is optimistic that exports will post a strong performance in 2022, but cautioned that across the globe, inflation is definitely pressuring consumer spending power.

"To date, demand for U.S. red meat has been as strong as I've ever seen in all my years in the meat business, and remarkably resilient," he said. "But the question in my mind is, at what point do these inflationary pressures start to constrict disposable income for the global consumer? At what point will we see a crack in demand?"

Halstrom also highlighted foodservice and retail trends that exploded during the pandemic and are likely here to stay, such as takeout ordering from ghost kitchens and grocery sales through e-commerce platforms. He concluded by noting that last year total U.S. red meat exports soared to a record $18.7 billion. While more moderate growth is projected this year, he said exports could approach the $20 billion milestone.

Wednesday's general session also featured a keynote address from acclaimed author and consultant Peter Zeihan, who described a global geopolitical system that seems headed toward chaos. Zeihan discussed the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on global agricultural trade and production, as well as its effect on energy supplies and manufacturing. He also focused on how China's COVID lockdowns have impacted the global economy and highlighted demographic trends and geopolitical issues that are shaping critical world events.

Zeihan sees the relatively stable period of economic growth driven by globalized trade coming to an end, replaced by a new era characterized by labor and supply shortages, an environment of constrained capital and rising inflation. On the agricultural side, these trends are exacerbated by the war in Ukraine as sharply reduced production of wheat and the cost and availability of fertilizer, nitrogen, potash and other inputs will severely limit global food production for an extended period. He projects that food insecurity will rise around the globe and says conditions are ripe for regional famines. Zeihan noted, however, that while American farmers and ranchers face sharply higher input costs, their production and supply chain challenges are not as drastic as in many other regions. So despite significant obstacles, he emphasized that U.S. agriculture is well-positioned for robust growth over the next 10-12 years.

Thursday's general session will feature a discussion of U.S.-China trade relations, including a look at the market access gains for U.S. red meat achieved in the Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement. Panelists for this session are former U.S. Ambassador to China and longtime Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and USMEF Senior Vice President for the Asia Pacific Joel Haggard.

The conference will conclude Friday with a panel discussion examining creative programs USMEF has designed in emerging markets to expand the range of U.S. red meat cuts available in wet markets and butcher shops.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Strengthen Food Supply Chains, Level the Playing Field for Growers, and Lower Prices for American Consumers

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced more support, resources, and new rules that will strengthen the American food supply chain, promote fair and competitive agricultural markets, prevent abuse of farmers by poultry processors and make prices fairer for farmers and American consumers. These actions build on President Biden’s historic whole-of-government effort to promote competition in the American economy and fulfill key pillars of the Meat and Poultry Supply Chain Action Plan launched in January by President Biden, Secretary Vilsack, and Attorney General Garland. These actions combat market dominance by a small number of major meat and poultry processors in key markets, where excessive concentration and control has led to lower prices paid to producers and higher prices paid by consumers.

“For too long, farmers and ranchers have seen the value and the opportunities they work so hard to create move away from the rural communities where they live and operate,” Vilsack said. “Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA is committed to making investments that promote competition—helping support economic systems where the wealth created in rural areas stays in rural areas—and strengthening rules and enforcement against anticompetitive practices. The funding and new rule we’re announcing today ultimately will help us give farmers and ranchers a fair shake, strengthen supply chains, and make food prices fairer.”

Fighting for Fairness for Poultry Farmers
USDA today announced a proposed rule under the Packers and Stockyards Act to protect poultry growers from abuse. Today’s action is the first of three rulemakings that USDA will issue under the Packers and Stockyards Act under the President’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy in order to stop unfair, deceptive, discriminatory, and anticompetitive practices in the meat and poultry industry.

Currently, poultry processors exert control over much of the process of raising chickens through take-it-or-leave-it contracts with growers. Under these contracts, processors provide inputs like chickens and feed to poultry growers. Poultry growers, who often take on debt to build poultry growhouses, have limited visibility into the real range of outcomes and risks they face under these contracts. Moreover, once in the contracts, the processors then determine the payments that poultry growers receive for their services by weighing the chickens and ranking farmers based on how much the chickens grew. Pay is generally determined based on how a farmer compares to other farmers, but farmers currently have little insight into this comparison. For far too long, growers have complained that the “tournament” system is ripe for abuse.

The new rulemaking will require poultry processors to provide key information to poultry growers at several critical steps—increasing transparency and accountability in the poultry growing system. For example, processors would be required to disclose details of the inputs they provided to each farmer and information about the input differences among farmers being ranked. Furthermore, disclosures would cover the level of control and discretion exercised by the poultry processor and what financial returns the farmer can expect from the relationship based on the range of real experiences of other growers. Contracts would also be required to contain guaranteed annual flock placements and density. Poultry processor CEOs would be required to sign off on the compliance process for disclosure accuracy.

Simultaneously with issuing the proposed transparency rule, USDA is opening an inquiry into whether some practices of processors in the tournament system are so unfair that they should be banned or otherwise regulated. USDA seeks input from stakeholders to determine whether the current tournament-style system in poultry growing could be restricted or modernized to create a fairer, more inclusive marketplace.

Investing in Expanded Capacity
Vilsack also announced that USDA is making available $200 million under the new Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program (MPILP) to strengthen the food supply chain and create opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs in rural communities. These funds will provide much-needed financing to independent meat and poultry processors to start up and expand operations. By introducing competition at this key bottleneck point in the supply chain, these investments will help raise earnings for farmers and lower prices for consumers.

The MPILP will provide grants of up to $15 million to nonprofit lenders, including private nonprofits, cooperatives, public agencies and tribal entities. These intermediaries will use this funding to establish a revolving loan fund to finance a variety of activities related to meat and poultry processing. For example, businesses may use the loans to acquire land, build or expand facilities and modernize equipment.

For more information, please visit www.rd.usda.gov/mpilp and read USDA Rural Development’s program announcement.

Building a Well-Paid, Well-Trained Meat and Poultry Processing Workforce
Vilsack also announced $25 million in investments for workforce training programs for meat and poultry processing workers with American Rescue Plan Act Section 1001 funding. The targeted funding through new and existing National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) programs is designed to create and expand upon good paying jobs that can strengthen the meatpacking industry by attracting and retaining employees.

NIFA is leading two funding opportunities:
    Extension Risk Management Education and Sustainable Agriculture Research Education Programs: An investment of $5 million will be split equally between Extension Risk Management Education and Sustainable Agriculture Research Education programs. Work in these programs will support development of meat and poultry processing training and educational materials for place-based needs, particularly relevant to small- or medium-sized farmers and ranchers. Additionally, training local and/or regional meat and poultry workers presents a unique opportunity to address the demand from niche markets, like mobile processing units fulfilling market demand from fresh markets, on-site processing, farm-to-fork (restauranteurs), boutique grocers and others.
    Community/Technical College Ag Workforce Training and Expanded Learning Opportunities: This Agricultural Workforce Training (AWT) investment makes available $20 million to qualified community colleges to support meat and poultry processing workforce development programs. The AWT program helps develop a workforce ready for the field as well as industry jobs in the food and agricultural sectors. By creating new workforce training programs, or expanding, improving, or renewing existing workforce training programs at community, junior, and technical colleges/institutes, this program will expand job-based, experiential learning opportunities, acquisition of industry-accepted credentials and occupational competencies for students to enable a workforce for the 21st century.

Charting a Comprehensive Strategy for Promoting Competition in Agricultural Markets
Today, USDA also released a new report on Promoting Competition in Agricultural Markets, as required by President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. The report details USDA’s strategy for promoting competition in agricultural markets—including not only actions and initiatives to promote competition in meat and poultry markets, but also other key agricultural sectors like fertilizer and seeds. The report also discusses the negative impacts concentration in shipping has on our food supply chain and describes USDA’s efforts to work across the Administration to use all available tools to promote competition.

The report includes the announcement of two new pro-competition initiatives—initiatives that go above and beyond those required by the Executive Order. First, USDA is announcing plans to complete a top-to-bottom review of its programs to ensure they promote competition. Second, USDA announced it will update guidance to strengthen the verification requirements for the most widely used “animal-raising claims” to ensure consumers are getting what they are paying for.

Biden-Harris Administration Commitment to Supporting American Farmers and Ranchers
These steps are pursuant to President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy and his Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains. As Co-Chair of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force and as a member of the White House Competition Council, Secretary Vilsack and USDA have brought together industry, labor and federal partners to address the short-term supply chain disruptions arising from the Administration’s strong economic recovery and to address longstanding problems with the lack of competition in our economy. Today’s announcements are among many key steps that USDA is taking to build a more resilient supply chain and better food system and to increase competition in agricultural markets. This initiative will support key supply chain infrastructure investments to expand and scale existing capacity, as well as support long-term investments in new operations. See all recent actions taken to support the American food supply chain on www.usda.gov/meat.

USDA Targets Transparency and Competition in Suite of Actions to Promote Fair and Competitive Markets for Livestock and Poultry

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced three initiatives that are the first in a suite of major actions under the Biden Administration to create fairer marketplaces for poultry, livestock and hog producers. First, today USDA announced a proposed rule that will require poultry companies and live poultry dealers to provide key information contract producers need to make production contract decisions best suited to their businesses. This action is part of a set of significant policy changes USDA is undertaking to achieve the goals of the President’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy.

Second, USDA is seeking input from stakeholders through a separate policymaking action to determine whether the current tournament-style system in poultry growing could be modernized to create a fairer marketplace that allows more producers to participate. And third, USDA released a Competition Report outlining its strategy for enhancing competition in the food and agricultural sectors. With this report, USDA is also announcing plans to complete a top-to-bottom review of programs for alignment with supporting competition and a new review of the most widely used animal-raising claims to help ensure those claims are adequately verified.

“The Packers and Stockyards Act is crucial for protecting farmers and ranchers from excessive concentration and unfair, deceptive practices in the poultry, hog, and cattle markets. But after 100 years, it needs to take modern market dynamics into account,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“Increased transparency is the essential starting point for modernizing our rules, protecting producers, and countering the damaging effects of concentration,” Secretary Vilsack added. “Today, with this proposed rule, we are taking a huge step forward, to increase transparency by providing the sunlight needed to ensure poultry markets are fair and well-functioning. And by ensuring that growers have access to the information they need to make informed contract decisions, we also are improving their chances of success, ensuring more vibrant rural communities.”

Also released today, “Agricultural Competition: A Plan in Support of Fair and Competitive Markets,” is USDA’s report to the White House Competition Council under President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in America’s Economy. The report sets out USDA’s strategies to increase competition through investing in new competitors to address major bottlenecks in the food and agricultural supply chains, in particular meat and poultry processing and domestic fertilizer capacity. It also highlights USDA’s comprehensive efforts to reinvigorate competition and fair market regulation and oversight, including partnering with the Department of Justice to establish farmerfairness.gov, a joint complaints and tips web portal. The report also highlights USDA’s efforts to enhance value-added competitive opportunities for producers, including the already-announced top-to-bottom review of the “Product of USA” label for beef and a newly announced review of animal-raising claims, among many other strategies and efforts.

“Modernizing the Packers and Stockyards Act is key to opening markets for poultry and livestock farmers, ranchers, and growers, and today’s proposed rule and advanced notice are only the first steps,” said Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “USDA plays an important role in revitalizing rural communities. Today’s release of our Competition Report highlights the comprehensive vision for delivering fair and competitive markets that benefits not only agricultural producers, but also consumers and rural America.”

“The new transparency requirements proposed today will help restore fair play for poultry growers by ensuring the poultry growers get the truth about the financial opportunities and risks of poultry growing, including at the beginning and each time they are asked to make major new investments in the poultry operation. And by providing transparency into key operational expectations, such as guaranteed flocks, the delivery of inputs, and the outcome of tournament settlements, disclosure will help poultry growers better manage their operations, monitor for risks, and snuff out abuses early,” Under Secretary Moffitt added.

Under the proposed rule, poultry companies will be required to make certain disclosures to poultry growers with whom they contract to raise birds, to provide current and prospective growers with the accurate information they need to be make informed business decisions and avoid the risks of deception. Specifically, it would require poultry companies to provide a Live Poultry Dealer Disclosure Document that includes information on bird placements, stocking density, prior litigation with poultry growers, prior bankruptcy filings, and payments realized by other poultry growers in prior years broken out by quintiles to reflect a realistic range of outcomes for different growers. Small live poultry dealers, those harvesting less than 2 million live pounds of poultry weekly, would be exempt from the disclosure requirements of the proposed rule.

Additionally, the proposed rule will provide growers who are paid using a poultry grower ranking system with disclosures around the inputs they receive from the poultry company, at time of placement and at settlement. These placement disclosures will improve growers’ ability to monitor issues and to compete on a real-time basis using the inputs they receive. Settlement disclosures—which show the distribution of the inputs, the housing specification, and any feed disruptions for the growers in the tournament—will help growers understand the relative importance of inputs, housing investments, and skills/efforts in tournament outcomes. In doing so, it will prevent deception and help growers plan and improve their ability to compete and deliver positive outcomes.

The proposed rule is being published in the Federal Register and will be available for public comment. It is currently available for review on USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service website. Stakeholders and other interested parties have 60 days from the date it is published in the Federal Register to submit comments via the Regulations.gov web portal. All comments submitted will be considered as USDA develops a final rule.

The parallel release of an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking seeks public input around additional steps USDA can take to ensure the fair operation of those poultry growing contracts. It seeks input on the fairness of the tournament system overall, as well as on additional ways to address concerns relating to specific practices. In the months ahead, USDA also intends to propose rules that provide greater clarity to strengthen enforcement of unfair and deceptive practices, unjust discrimination, and undue preferences and prejudices, as well as address requirements relating to harm to competition under section 202(a) and 202(b) of the P&S Act.

NFU welcomes the rule and awaits additional actions to strengthen Packers & Stockyards Act enforcement

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today released a proposed rule to establish greater transparency in poultry growing contracts and tournaments. This is the first of three proposed rules to strengthen enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act (P&S Act). USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack also announced $225 million in additional investment towards expanding competition in the meat processing sector and workforce training.  

National Farmers Union (NFU) is a staunch advocate for poultry grower protections and a diversified, resilient meat processing sector and is pleased by today’s release.  

“Poultry growers have endured an unfair contracting system for far too long, and all livestock producers continue to face heavily concentrated markets with insufficient protections from anti-competitive practices. We are glad that the first in a series of promised rules is being introduced,” said NFU President Rob Larew. “This rule will ensure poultry growers have a fair marketplace, free from retaliation. We will review the proposed rule and share further recommendations with USDA to help ensure the final rule provides the protections poultry growers deserve. We are also glad to see USDA’s continued commitment to growing independent meat processing capacity and training the workforce in the meat processing sector.”

USDA intends to introduce two more rules that would strengthen enforcement of the prohibition on unfair and deceptive practices and clarify that parties do not need to demonstrate harm to competition in an entire industry to bring claims under key sections of the P&S Act.

“The proposed rules, taken together, will be an important improvement for the livestock and poultry industries. Producers and consumers benefit when markets are competitive and when farmers and ranchers are treated fairly. Today’s announcement from USDA is another big step towards ensuring Fairness for Farmers, and we look forward to reviewing all the forthcoming P&S Act rules,” Larew concluded.   

NFU’s Fairness for Farmers campaign has brought the devastating impact of monopolies on family agriculture into the national spotlight. Campaign priorities include addressing issues such as increased enforcement of competition laws, excessive costs for fertilizer, supply chain vulnerabilities, and increased farm equipment costs.

AFBF Appreciates Efforts to Improve Transparency for Poultry Farmers

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented today on USDA’s proposed poultry marketing disclosure requirements and the advanced notice of proposed rulemaking under the Packers and Stockyards Act.

“AFBF appreciates USDA working to create more transparency in the poultry industry. Farmers deserve to know what they are getting into, and to understand how they are being paid. Making sure farmers have access to important information about their poultry company, inputs, stocking densities and feed disruptions is good for everyone in the food value chain.

“There are no simple answers for all the challenges that poultry growers face, but it is important that steps are taken to make improvements where possible. We look forward to reviewing these proposals in detail and we stand ready to work with USDA to ensure farmers can continue putting dinner on the table for America’s families.”

U.S. Products Take Center Stage at Mexico's Food Expo

From popcorn to pears, from salmon to snack chips, U.S. food and beverage products took center stage in Guadalajara May 17-19 at Mexico’s largest annual food industry trade show, Expo ANTAD & Alimentaria Mexico.

FAS Administrator Daniel Whitley was there on the expo’s opening day, supporting the U.S. producers and exporters showcasing their premium products to Mexican buyers at the USA Pavilion. Also on hand representing the best in U.S. food and agriculture were a number of USDA cooperator organizations and state/regional trade group partners.

In 2021, Mexico was the #2 global destination for U.S. food and farm exports with sales surging to a record $25.5 billion. U.S. exports of consumer-oriented products – including fruits and vegetables, dairy products, juices, bakery goods, condiments, and food preparations – also hit an all-time high.

Lawmakers Express Concern Over SEC Overreach

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented today on a bipartisan letter from members of Congress expressing concerns about the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) proposed rule, “The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate Related Disclosures for Investors.” The proposal would require public companies to report on Scope 3 emissions, which are the result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by a publicly traded company but contribute to its value chain. While farmers and ranchers would not be required to report directly to the SEC, they provide almost every raw product that goes into the food supply chain.

“The Securities and Exchange Commission plays an important role in protecting investors, but its reach has never extended to America’s farms. The bipartisan letter sent to the SEC recognizes the proposed rule’s overreach by an agency whose mission should be focused on Wall Street.

“America’s families rely on farmers to put food on their table every day, and farmers are increasingly being asked to answer the growing call for nutrition from families around the globe. Higher costs, liabilities and privacy issues will all create obstacles to reaching those goals.

“We appreciate the lawmakers who have stepped forward to raise concerns about the proposed rule, which has the potential to significantly increase costs and uncertainty for America’s farmers and ranchers.”

RFA Launches Summer Contest with Free Fuel as the Prize

Our country is experiencing record fuel prices, and everyone is looking for a break at the pump. Ethanol has been providing savings for years, but even more so this summer as the availability of E15 and E85 grows.

To further highlight those savings and educate U.S. drivers on ethanol’s value proposition, the Renewable Fuels Association is again hosting its annual Ethanol Days of Summer Contest, with weekly chances to win free fuel. This year’s contest will be combined with RFA’s Pump up the Savings Challenge to allow consumers more ways to win! Each week RFA will award $250 in free fuel from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
There are two ways to enter the contests and win.
    Submit prices at E85prices.com. Register for an account or log in at E85prices.com or use the E85prices.com mobile app. Submit retail station prices for higher blends of ethanol like E15 and E85.
    Submit pictures of higher blend prices on Twitter. Pictures can be of the fuel dispenser or price sign and should include, at a minimum, regular unleaded (E10) and E15 and/or E85. Include station name, city, and state. Tag @EthanolRFA and include the hashtags: #ethanol #E15 #E85 and #fuelprices (unless those words are already mentioned).
Contestants who follow one of the two methods above will be entered into a random weekly drawing for a pre-paid credit card to be used for fuel purchases.

More than 5,500 stations are now selling E85 across nearly 3,000 cities, and roughly 2,600 stations in 31 states offer E15. Among other information, E85prices.com contains a nationwide map of E85 and E15 stations and historical pricing. An ethanol savings calculator is also featured, allowing users to see how much money they can save by using higher ethanol blends.

“We are excited to bring back our summer contest and combine it with our recently announced picture challenge as more drivers return to the open road,” said RFA Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White. “The popularity of this contest has been great in the past and we expect it to be even more enticing given today’s prices at the pump. Ethanol lowers the price that consumers pay, while also lowering greenhouse gas emissions and harmful air pollution. We have more stations offering E15 and E85 each week, and we want consumers to find those stations, save some money and have some fun doing it.”

No purchase is necessary to participate, and more information can be found at EthanolRFA.org/summer-contest.