Thursday, June 30, 2022

Wednesday June 29 Hogs & Pigs report + Ag News


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on June 1, 2022, was 3.50 million head, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was unchanged from June 1, 2021, but down 3% from March 1, 2022. Breeding hog inventory, at 420,000 head, was down 7% from June 1, 2021, and down 2% from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 3.08 million head, was up 1% from last year, but down 3% from last quarter.

The March - May 2022 Nebraska pig crop, at 2.15 million head, was down 3% from 2021. Sows farrowed during the period totaled 185,000 head, down 3% from last year. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.60 for the March - May period, compared to 11.60 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 190,000 sows during the June - August 2022 quarter, down 5% from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago. Intended farrowings for September - November 2022 are 190,000 sows, down 3% from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.


On June 1, 2022, there were 23.0 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs report. Inventory was down 100,000 head from the previous quarter and down 3 percent from the previous year.

The March-May 2022 quarterly pig crop was 5.78 million head, up 8 percent from the previous quarter but down 1 percent from last year. A total of 505,000 sows farrowed during this quarter. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.45 for the quarter.

As of June 1, producers planned to farrow 510,000 sows and gilts in the June-August 2022 quarter and 510,000 head during the September-November 2022 quarter.

United States Hog Inventory Down 1 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on June 1, 2022 was 72.5 million head. This was down 1 percent from June 1, 2021, and down slightly from March 1, 2022.   

Breeding inventory, at 6.17 million head, was down 1 percent from last year, but up 1 percent from the previous quarter.

Market hog inventory, at 66.4 million head, was down 1 percent from last year, and down slightly from last quarter.

The March-May 2022 pig crop, at 32.9 million head, was down 1 percent from 2021. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 2.99 million head, down 1 percent from 2021. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 49 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.00 for the March-May period, compared to 10.95 last year.

United States hog producers intend to have 3.02 million sows farrow during the June-August 2022 quarter, down 1 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period one year earlier, and down 7 percent from the same period two years earlier. Intended farrowings for September-November 2022, at 3.01 million sows, are down 1 percent from the same period one year earlier, and down 5 percent from the same period two years earlier.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 50 percent of the total United States hog inventory, up 1 percent from the previous year.

Agricultural Custom Work – What to Charge?

Glennis McClure, NE Extension Farm and Ranch Management Analyst

The 2022 Nebraska Custom Rates Report is now available to provide market rates and information for those providing custom work and for their potential customers.

2022 Custom Rates Webinar
July 7, 2022 - Noon CT

This webinar provides a summary of the newly released 2022 Nebraska Farm Custom Rates Report, with information on how the data might be applied.

Webinar Registration -
Go to Custom Rates Report -

There are various resources or guides available to assist custom machine hire and service providers in figuring rates in Nebraska. The Nebraska Custom Rates Report is a popular biennial publication, now updated for 2022.  Information provided in the report is from survey data gathered on 136 different custom operations and services from 193 survey respondents providing those services in Nebraska. The report provides market rates and is an informational source for those providing custom work and their potential customers. The report provides common charges, or a range of rates charged in their area and for Nebraska.  Another important source of information is to calculate cost of owning and operating machinery and equipment with a program like the Agricultural Budget Calculator (ABC). Considering market information combined with covering costs plus a profit margin is a common formula for setting a price for services.   

Agricultural custom rate charges can vary across the state; therefore, the Nebraska Custom Rates Report provides rate details from survey responses grouped by Nebraska Agricultural Statistics Districts.  Several factors contribute to rate differences reported by survey participants, including field and job sizes, soil conditions, and the number of responses for the various operations. Some operators may charge lower than market rate prices to neighbors or relatives. Rates may change from year-to-year due to expense differences and local market forces. Determining appropriate charges for custom machine hire and agricultural services may include consideration of various elements including current market rates as reported in the custom rates survey report, market demand in the area for specific types of custom work, and availability of services.

Statement by Mark McHargue, President, Regarding Mike Flood Election to Congress

“Nebraska Farm Bureau congratulates Mike Flood on his election to serve Nebraska’s first congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. As Flood knows, there are many issues facing American agriculture from tax reform and expanding broadband, to economic development in rural areas. He is a proven leader who will work every day for the prosperity of Nebraska farm and ranch families. We look forward to working with him to tackle those challenges especially in the areas of growing our economy, cutting taxes, and reducing federal overreach.”

Weekly Ethanol Production for 6/17/24 and 6/24/2022

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released fuel supply-and-demand data for the last two weeks today, due to systems issues that were experienced last week. The Renewable Fuels Association’s analysis of the EIA data for each week is provided below.

For the Week Ending June 17:

Ethanol production narrowed by 0.5% to 1.055 million b/d. Production was 0.7% more than the same week last year and 3.4% above the five-year average for the week. The four-week average ethanol production volume increased 1.0% to 1.056 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 16.19 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks expanded 1.2% to 23.5 million barrels. Stocks were 11.2% higher than a year ago and 9.5% above the five-year average.
The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, slid 6.5% to a twelve-week low of 8.51 million b/d (130.38 bg annualized). Demand was 9.9% less than a year ago and 9.1% below the five-year average.

Conversely, refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol increased 0.2% to 903,000 b/d, equivalent to 13.84 bg annualized. However, net inputs were 2.1% less than a year ago and 2.1% below the five-year average.

There were no imports of ethanol.

For the Week Ending June 24:

Ethanol production eased 0.4% to 1.051 million b/d, equivalent to 44.14 million gallons daily. Production was 0.7% less than the same week last year but 2.6% above the five-year average for the week. The four-week average ethanol production volume was also 1.051 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 16.11 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks dropped 3.1% to 22.7 million barrels, a low for the year. However, stocks were 5.4% higher than a year ago and 5.2% above the five-year average. Inventories thinned across all regions except the East Coast (PADD 1).
Gasoline supplied to the U.S. market rebounded 4.9% to 8.92 million b/d (136.77 bg annualized). Demand was 2.7% less than a year ago and 4.7% below the five-year average.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol rose 0.6% to 908,000 b/d, equivalent to 13.92 bg annualized. Net inputs were 3.2% less than a year ago and 1.5% below the five-year average.

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

High Fuel Prices Squeeze Farms and Ranches

Rising fuel prices are putting growing pressure on farmers and ranchers as they grapple with increased costs of growing food and fiber. USDA estimates show that the cost of fuel, lube and electricity is expected to increase 34% in 2022 compared to 2021. American Farm Bureau Federation economists analyze the factors contributing to rising fuel prices in the latest Market Intel.

The war in Ukraine has reduced availability of global crude oil and U.S. domestic production is down while demand is increasing in the United States and abroad. Diesel prices rose to $5.718 per gallon in June, up $2.432 per gallon, or 74%, compared to $3.286 per gallon in June 2021. The current high price of diesel is more than two times the price paid before 2020.  

“While some farmers are seeing increases in commodity prices, their gains are being eaten up by higher expenses,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Many farmers and ranchers are concerned they won’t be able to break even, much less make a profit. It’s not just on-farm costs taking a toll. High diesel and gasoline prices, among other increased costs, all affect the food supply chain, starting at the farm and continuing to the grocery store, which means all families are ultimately paying more to put food on their tables.”

Prices could potentially begin to decline, but the U.S. must increase domestic production and expand refining capacity. Farmers and ranchers will also be watching the weather as hurricane season ramps up. Severe weather could impact production if refineries or offshore sites are hit by storms.

USDA Has Issued More Than $4 Billion in Emergency Relief Program Payments to Date

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that to date, agricultural producers have already received more than $4 billion through the Emergency Relief Program (ERP), representing approximately 67% of the more than $6 billion projected to be paid through this first phase of the program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) mailed out pre-filled applications in late May to producers with crop insurance who suffered losses due to natural disasters in 2020 and 2021. Commodity and specialty crop producers have until July 22 to complete applications.

“We recognize the financial recovery need is great and worked deliberately to create a program delivery process that would ensure quick payments to producers,” Vilsack said. “I am extremely proud to share that the strategically streamlined ERP application and program implementation process have yielded the desired results – reduced burdens on and expedited payments to approximately 120,000 disaster-impacted agricultural producers, to date.”

USDA is implementing ERP and ELRP in two phases, with the first phase utilizing existing claim data to provide relief expediently, and the second phase focusing on ensuring producers not covered by other programs receive assistance. For phase one, USDA used crop insurance and Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) claim data.

Both ERP and the previously announced Emergency Livestock Relief Program (ELRP) are funded by the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act, which President Biden signed into law in 2021. The law provided $10 billion to help agricultural producers impacted by wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, winter storms and other eligible disasters experienced during calendar years 2020 and 2021, of which $750 million is committed to livestock producers who experienced losses to drought or wildfire in calendar year 2021. Eligible livestock producers received ELRP payments totaling more than $590 million since the program was rolled out in late March.

2022 U.S. Childhood Agricultural Injuries Fact Sheet released

Youth worker fatalities in agriculture exceed all other industries combined, according to the 2022 Childhood Agricultural Injuries Fact Sheet published by the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety. The fact sheet data includes children/youth under 18 from 2001-2021.
About every three days, a child dies in an agriculture-related incident, and each day, at least 33 children are seriously injured, said Marsha Salzwedel, Ed.D., project scientist and agricultural youth safety specialist at the NIOSH-funded National Children’s Center, part of the National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute.
“We hope this fact sheet helps everyone understand the severity of the problem,” Salzwedel said.
Leading reported sources of fatalities involved transportation (47%), which includes tractors and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), and contact with machinery (20 percent) such as being pinned between a skid steer’s lift arms and frame.
Other notable statistics on injuries among youth:
-    Youth under age 16 have 12 times the risk of ATV injuries (both fatal and non-fatal) compared to adults.
-    From 2001 to 2015, 48 percent of all fatal occupational injuries to young workers occurred in agriculture.
-    There are over four times more actual occupational injuries than are reported. As many as 88 percent of agricultural injuries and illnesses are not captured by traditional surveillance methods.
Bryan Weichelt, Ph.D., associate research scientist, led compilation of the fact sheet, alongside colleague, Rick Burke, M.P.H.
“There is no central database on childhood agricultural injuries in the U.S.,” Weichelt said. “In putting together this fact sheet we drew upon the best available data from a variety of sources.”
For information and resources to prevent child agricultural injuries, visit

Register Today for the Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting

It’s not too late to register for the 2022 Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting, which will be held in Reno, Nevada, July 25-27.

“Every summer cattle producers from across the country gather to conduct business and set a course for various projects for the betterment of the beef cattle industry,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Don Schiefelbein. “I invite producers to join us in Nevada for engaging meetings, networking and industry updates.”

Producers attending policy and Beef Checkoff committee meetings will discuss current developments, work on initiatives developed at Convention and make plans for the upcoming fiscal year. Regional meetings will give producers the opportunity to discuss regional issues impacting their operations.

In addition to business meetings, there will be a General Session on Tuesday featuring two Sam’s Club executives sharing their experiences and knowledge working on the consumer-facing side of the beef industry. Later in the day, the always popular Checkoff Highlights Session will highlight the Checkoff-funded programs that are driving consumer beef demand.

On Tuesday evening, 2021 Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) regional winners will be honored, and the national winner will be announced. ESAP, one of the most prestigious awards in the beef cattle industry, recognizes cattle producers across the nation who use innovative practices to protect and enhance natural resources while maintaining or increasing the profitability of their businesses.

Register at before July 6 for discounted rates. All registrants will be entered in a drawing for a chance to win a Dell Rugged Laptop package, valued at more than $2,000. Discounted air travel through United Airlines is also available.

R-CALF USA Announces Details of 23rd Annual Convention “Code of the West”

R-CALF USA will host its 23rd annual convention and trade show “Code of the West,” Aug. 18-19, 2022, in Deadwood, South Dakota. With an exciting lineup of speakers, the group looks forward to its success in further developing strategies to improve the trajectory of the U.S. cattle industry.

The group’s U.S. Cattle Industry Long Range Plan, released in December 2020, and the 2021 national convention pushed for immediate congressional solutions to restore mandatory country of origin labeling (MCOOL) for beef and pass the spot market protection bill or 50/14 (S.949) requiring the largest beef packers to buy at least half of their cattle needs from the spot (or cash) market. Following convention, R-CALF USA welcomed the introduction of the American Beef Labeling Act in the Senate (S.2716) to restore MCOOL for beef, later followed by its introduction into the House of Representatives (H.R.7291).

This year’s convention will provide attendees with the tools needed to win passage of these bills and inform them of additional solutions to regain for them the opportunity to be profitable and prosperous in their U.S cattle industry.

The "Code of the West” convention and trade show kicks off Thursday, Aug. 18 with the trade show and registration opening at 7 a.m. Convention will open with a prayer breakfast by Max Thornsberry, DVM, at 8:30 a.m. Unlike previous conventions, there will not be a Property Rights Day on Wednesday, Aug. 17.

Following the prayer breakfast, Thursday morning will include presentations by Wyoming rancher, attorney and Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef expert Tracy Hunt; and water, natural resources and constitutional attorney Harriet Hageman. Hageman serves as R-CALF USA’s lead attorney in the ongoing animal identification lawsuit.

R-CALF USA’s lead attorney in its ongoing checkoff lawsuit, David Muraskin, Food Project Senior Attorney at Public Justice, will present Thursday afternoon, followed by a trade presentation by R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard and a private property rights presentation by Dr. Norman Kincaide.

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.Dak.) will make an appearance Thursday afternoon shortly followed by a presentation from Andrew Green, Senior Advisor for Fair and Competitive Markets at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Thursday’s activities will conclude with attendees being treated to an authentic chuck wagon dinner, music and social at the local Days of ‘76 Museum.

Friday will open with an affiliate and trade show breakfast allowing attendees to browse the trade show until the morning’s presentations. Georgetown professor Nathan Miller will present his “Buyer Power in the Beef Packing Industry” research and strategies, and Colorado veterinarian and rancher Lora Bledsoe, DVM, will share national and global threats to cattle health. Friday morning will conclude with a presentation by Michael Stumo, Coalition for a Prosperous America CEO.

A large player in South Dakota’s Beef to Schools program and Western Dakota Tech’s Meat Processing instructional program, Ken Charfauros, owner of Wall Meat Processing, will present Friday over lunch.

Friday afternoon will host a Livestock Markets panel; a presentation by Patrick McGahan, Senior Associate, Scott+Scott Attorneys at Law LLP and counsel in R-CALF USA’s antitrust lawsuit. Bill Bullard’s CEO Report will conclude the afternoon’s presentations preceding the business and policy meetings.

The business and policy meetings will include Board of Director elections. The following regions will nominate a member to the Board of Directors: Region VII (Iowa, Minn., Wis.); Region VIII (Ky., Ohio, Tenn., W.Va.); Region IX (Ala., Ga., Fla.); Region XI (Calif., Hawaii, Nev.); and Region XII (Ark., La., Miss.). Further nominations will be taken from the floor at the annual meeting. In addition, any member may petition to be nominated by forwarding a letter to the Board of Directors making such a request.

Following Friday’s banquet dinner, Dr. Mary Hendrickson, University of Missouri Associate Professor of Rural Sociology, will give the keynote address highlighting reforms to address the monopolistic structure of the marketplace. Hendrickson is expected to offer suggestion on how to restore competition and explain the effects of concentration on rural America, including the likely future of rural America if the industry stays on its current trajectory. A saddle raffle and a live auction fundraiser will follow.

An R-CALF USA affiliate report and committee reports from R-CALF USA’s animal ID, checkoff, sheep, marketing, COOL and private property rights committees will be presented throughout the course of the convention.

The trade show will be open Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to visit with the different vendors throughout the convention and during the numerous trade show breaks.

To find hotel accommodations or register for the event, visit

As NCGA Raises Alarms about Tariffs, Court of International Trade Begins Asking Tough Questions of Fertilizer Companies

Fertilizer companies have been under scrutiny this week as the Court of International Trade considers an appeal of the U.S. International Trade Commission’s decision to place duties on phosphorus fertilizers from Morocco and Russia.

These developments come after the National Corn Growers Association has worked for months to eliminate tariffs on nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizer imports.

“We have been banging on the doors in Washington, sounding the alarm and telling federal officials that tariffs are hurting farmers,” said NCGA President Chris Edgington. “This week, we saw some results as a judge with the Court of International Trade began asking tough questions about the assertions made by fertilizer companies.”

The appeal came after the U.S. Department of Commerce and International Trade Commission last year ruled in favor of a petition by the U.S.-based Mosaic to impose duties on phosphorous fertilizers imported from Morocco and Russia. Mosaic had claimed that unfairly subsidized foreign companies were flooding the U.S. market with fertilizers and selling the products at extremely low prices.
On Tuesday, Judge Stephen Vaden, with the Court of International Trade, grilled ITC officials about how they determined that unfair imports of phosphate fertilizer from Morocco had injured U.S. producers.

Last year, CF Industries, another U.S.-based fertilizer company, also filed a petition with U.S. ITC asking that the commission place tariffs on certain nitrogen fertilizers imported from Russia and Trinidad and Tobago.

NCGA quickly responded with an unusually direct op-ed, taking the fertilizer companies to task and arguing that tariffs placed a severe and unnecessary burden on family farms.
Earlier this month, NCGA testified at a U.S. ITC hearing, where organization representatives made a strong case that shortages in nitrogen fertilizers are placing an undue burden on farmers and could eventually be detrimental to the global food supply.  

NCGA has also called on the Biden administration and Congress to step in on the matter if fertilizer companies don’t move to withdraw their ITC petitions.

Both decisions by ITC and the Court of International Trade are expected later this summer.

Soybean Farmers have Rallied for Biobased—and Appreciate Backing in New Pilot Program!

USDA has announced available funding for the Bioproduct Pilot Program, which was established through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that was signed into law last November. The pilot program, which was a priority of the American Soybean Association during drafting of the legislation, will provide $10 million over two years to study the benefits of biobased products for construction materials and consumer products.

Dave Walton grows soybeans in Iowa and is an ASA director and chair of the association’s Biofuels and Infrastructure Committee. Walton said, “The Bioproduct Pilot Program will provide a great opportunity to expand upon what we in the soy family have been doing for years—creating plant-based, sustainable construction materials and consumer goods using U.S.-grown soy. ASA was glad to work with Senator Rounds and others to support the inclusion of this language in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and we welcome this announcement from USDA.”

Corteva Agriscience, BASF and MS Technologies Sign Agreement to Bring Industry-first Soybean Trait Stack to Market in United States, Canada

Corteva Agriscience, BASF and MS Technologies™ today announced they have entered into a mutually beneficial trait licensing agreement to develop next-generation Enlist E3® soybeans with the nematode resistant soybean (NRS) trait for farmers in the United States and Canada.

As part of this agreement, Corteva and MS Technologies have licensed the Enlist E3 soybean trait to BASF for development with the NRS trait in BASF germplasm. BASF has licensed its NRS trait to Corteva and MS Technologies for use in Enlist E3 soybeans. The three companies anticipate commercialization of Enlist E3 soybean varieties containing the NRS trait in the late 2020s, pending applicable regulatory reviews and completion of field testing.

The new NRS trait is expected to provide unprecedented protection against nematode pests in soybeans, including soybean cyst nematode (SCN). A common parasite in North America, SCN accounts for more than $1 billion1 in economic losses for U.S. farmers each year. The NRS trait provides yield protection above and beyond the current industry standard native SCN resistance traits, including PI88788 and Peking, as well as protection against some of the most economically important nematode species for soybean farmers beyond North America, including Pratylenchus brachyurus2.

"Our nematode resistant soybean trait will be the first commercially available biotechnology trait developed to control nematodes," said Linda Trolinder, Senior Vice President of BASF Seeds and Traits R&D. "BASF is in its 5th year of advanced field testing the NRS trait in the U.S. and in our trials, it has demonstrated an average 8% yield benefit above today's SCN-resistant varieties."

The Enlist® weed control system is an industry-leading system for soybeans, corn and cotton. Enlist E3 soybeans are tolerant to 2,4-D choline, glyphosate and glufosinate herbicides, giving farmers additional options to manage resistant and hard-to-control weeds.

"Farmers have embraced the Enlist E3 soybean trait, which offers maximum flexibility among the industry's various weed-control systems," said Tim Glenn, Executive Vice President, Seed Business Unit, Corteva Agriscience. "The addition of the NRS trait to Enlist E3 soybeans is a logical next step for Corteva. Offering both trait technologies together will provide soybean farmers with additional functionality for pest management."

The Enlist E3 soybean trait is jointly developed and owned by Corteva and MS Technologies and was commercialized in 2019.

"We are pleased to see the technology fit various growing environments. The agreement between MS Technologies, BASF and Corteva enables access of Enlist E3 soybeans to more farmers in the United States and Canada," noted Joseph Merschman, President of MS Technologies. "We are excited to be working toward a new, sustainable option for farmers who want to manage weeds and nematodes in high-performing soybean varieties."

FMC Corporation significantly expands biologicals platform with agreement to acquire BioPhero

FMC Corporation (NYSE: FMC), an agricultural sciences company, today announced a definitive agreement to acquire BioPhero ApS, a Denmark-based pheromone research and production company. The acquisition adds biologically produced state-of-the-art pheromone insect control technology to FMC's product portfolio and R&D pipeline, underscoring FMC's role as a leader in delivering innovative and sustainable crop protection solutions.

BioPhero has pioneered a highly efficient yeast fermentation process for manufacturing pheromones at significantly lower costs and with fewer production steps compared to competitors' traditional chemical synthesis methods. Lower costs expand the pheromone addressable market from today's focus on specialty fruit and vegetables to now include the large row crop market. FMC expects pheromones and pheromone-based products to contribute approximately $1 billion in revenue at above company-average EBITDA margin by 2030.

"This acquisition demonstrates our continuing commitment to invest in biologicals and adjacent technologies, expanding our world-class portfolio while advancing sustainable agriculture," said Mark Douglas, FMC president and chief executive officer. "BioPhero is a pioneer in the production of pheromones through a unique, highly efficient bioprocessing method—a game-changer in pheromone manufacturing technology. FMC's broad market access, leadership position in the high-value insecticide market, formulation know-how and application expertise provide significant opportunities to bring sustainably advantaged pheromone technology to more agricultural markets around the world. We look forward to adding an extensive pheromone platform to our biologicals business and welcoming the BioPhero team to FMC."

"BioPhero is excited by the opportunity to accelerate our development and the road to market with the objective to make pheromones widely available," said Dr. Irina Borodina, co-founder and chief scientific officer of BioPhero. "Given FMC's leadership position in the development of biological plant health products, manufacturing and formulation expertise, and existing operations in Denmark, we believe FMC is an excellent company to take this business forward. FMC's global market access and significant investments in R&D will accelerate our ability to bring highly advanced pheromone insect control technology to growers around the world."

Pheromones can be used in an integrated pest management program to control the buildup of insect populations in farmers' fields by disrupting the insect mating process, reducing overall egg-laying by adults and decreasing the next generation of the target insect population. Pheromones do not have an impact on the environment, promote biodiversity and do not harm beneficial insects, such as pollinators, since they precisely target specific pests.

"FMC directs 100 percent of its R&D investments to discover and develop more sustainable products," said Dr. Kathleen Shelton, FMC executive vice president and chief technology officer. "We're excited to add BioPhero's innovative pheromone molecules to our new product pipeline, and we expect to launch five new pheromone products over the next three to five years. The opportunities for advanced biomanufacturing technology extend well beyond insect control. Working together, we can significantly expand the use of fermentation technologies across a wider set of crops targeting a variety of pests, including fungi and weeds."

Novo Holding A/S, a world-leading science investor focused on creating long-term value, has supported BioPhero for six years. "Novo Holdings believes that biotechnology is a key component in the transition towards a more sustainable society," said Søren Møller, managing partner at Novo Holdings. "The technology developed by BioPhero is an excellent example of using nature's own pheromones to combat pests in a safe and yet efficient way. Novo Holdings has invested in BioPhero since inception and has renewed its commitment to the company in each financing round. We are very satisfied to see the rapid development of the company, and this sale demonstrates that FMC shares our vision of introducing new sustainable solutions in agriculture."

The purchase price of approximately $200 million will be paid at closing. Following regulatory approvals and satisfaction of customary closing conditions, the acquisition of BioPhero is expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter 2022.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Tuesday June 28 Ag News

 New Nebraska Farm Crisis Hotline Website is Available

The Nebraska Rural Response Council, sponsor of the Rural Response Hotline, announced that their new website is up and running. Click on the link

The Rural Response Hotline has been strengthening rural communities in Nebraska since 1984 providing valuable information and resources in times of crisis. Rural Response Council Chairman, Vern Jantzen of Plymouth said, “In addition to our (800) 464-0258 Hotline telephone number, farm, ranch, and rural residents now also have access to the website to obtain resources. We thank the Nebraska Department of Agriculture for their assistance in establishing this new website.”

Creation of the website was supported by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant awarded to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to support and expand behavioral health services to farm, ranch, and rural residents. The Counseling Outreach and Mental Health Therapy (COMHT) project that provides free counseling vouchers for farmers, ranchers, and rural residents in times of crisis is one of many services offered through the farm hotline.

Michelle Soll, administrator for Legal Aid of Nebraska’s Farm and Ranch Project that staffs the Hotline said, “Of course, we will still be answering the Hotline phone and providing that personal touch. We are excited that there is now an additional on-line option.”

Jantzen concluded, “There is a wealth of useful information on the new website. We are asking all our organizational partners to link to our new website from their website, as well as to help spread the news.” The farm hotline is supported through grants, and by private, industry and charitable donations. For folks who want to financially support the nation’s longest, continuously serving hotline for rural residents, it is as simple as clicking on the “Donate” button at


– Brad Schick, NE Extension Educator

Bromegrass is headed out and native meadows are beginning to grow rapidly with warmer temperatures the past couple weeks. Is now the time to make grass hay?
Sometimes a simple date on the calendar is the reason hay is cut. Some will cut when it works in their operation; after corn is fertilized or sprayed, after branding or turning out to summer grass, maybe after kids’ baseball and softball seasons are over. Tradition and schedules play a key role in management decisions, but should we consider another factor?
An important, yet often overlooked way to determine when to cut, is what quality of hay is needed on the operation. Is a protein source needed to minimize supplementation? Is simple roughage needed? Will it be sold? Can it be sold at a premium for being higher quality? Each operation is different and has different needs.
Right now the quality of bromegrass and other cool-season grasses are rapidly declining. As these plants mature and become stemmy, their protein, energy content, and digestibility decrease. Studies have shown that grass hay cut at early heading could result in a daily gain of one pound for bred heifers whereas the same mature hay may not even meet the requirements of a dry cow.
When deciding when to cut or what field to cut, first determine what livestock will consume the hay and plan accordingly.
A little change to the timing of haying might better meet livestock nutrient requirements and reduce supplementation costs.

June Plenary Introduces New Leadership and Strategic Vision

Last week, Field to Market (FTM) held its June Plenary and General Assembly meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina. In addition to being the first in-person plenary held since June 2019, this was the first meeting led by Field to Market’s new president, Scott Herndon, who was appointed in January of this year.

The meeting kicked off with thought-provoking considerations surrounding expanding and exploring research areas. That theme continued throughout the course of the meeting as members discussed possible R & D opportunities to better understand the roles supply chain actors play in supporting the adoption and retention of practices that support sustainable outcomes from U.S. commodity crop production used for our food, feed, fiber and fuel.

Wednesday afternoon’s agenda included a panel presentation focused on the GHG Protocol Land Sector and Removals Guidance draft that will be released in late July.  The guidance will explain how companies should account for emissions and removals from land use, land-use change, biogenic products, technological CO2 removals and related activities in GHG inventories, building on the Corporate Standard and Scope 3 Standard.

The plenary meeting concluded on Thursday with a look at the potential benefits of third-party GHG tracking and verification; next, post-lunch collaboration continued with a cross-sector dialogue, “What Lies Beyond: Landscape Approaches to Sustainability.” The small group breakouts brought stakeholders together to learn more about community-based approaches to sustainable agriculture—from farmer-led watershed initiatives to regional supply chain collaborations.

“This week’s meetings reinstated the importance of collaboration to achieve success in driving sustainable improvement,” said Nebraska grower and Field to Market Chair Brandon Hunnicutt. “It is really important for us to find tangible ways to measure our successes in conservation and stewardship.”

Field to Market members can expect plenary recap documents to be shared in July.

CONVEY’22 features regulatory compliance, grain safety and operations training  

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) is partnering with the Grain Elevator and Processing Society (GEAPS) and Grain Journal to present CONVEY’22, a unique opportunity for grain handling employees and leaders to gain practical knowledge and training on real-world compliance issues, best practices and emerging industry trends.

CONVEY’22 includes a trade show and 1.5 days of sessions on July 26-27 at the Omaha Hilton in Omaha, Neb.

“Each session at CONVEY’22 features knowledgeable and experienced experts representing companies known for their first-class services and best practices. We’re honored to be able to offer their training and insights for such an affordable price,” NGFA President and CEO Mike Seyfert said. “Watching leaders, managers and personnel in the grain handling industry come together at CONVEY to represent their dedication to regulatory awareness and effective safety and health practices is incredibly rewarding each year.”

In addition to sessions on U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspections, operations best practices, and grain quality management, the conference offers training focused on behavioral safety and incident management as well as safe driver training and development.

Sessions include:
•    “Human Organizational Performance – Behavior Safety” with Cargill Inc.
•    “Fumigation Practices and Safety Techniques” with Degesch America
•    “Grain Grading Operations Best Practices” with North Dakota Grain Inspection and The Andersons
•    “Managing a Safety and Health Incident” with Workcare, Inc.
•    “How to Perform a Safety and Health Incident Investigation and Analyze Hazards” with Fletcher Safety Consulting
•    “Airflow: Lessons Learned in Practical Applications of Air Facilities” with ADM
•    “FDA Inspection Plans for 2022” with NGFA
•    “Hiring, Training, and Retaining Employees – Entry Level Driver Training,      Drug Testing, Safety” with Co-Alliance Cooperative Inc., Key Cooperative and Perdue AgriBusiness LLC
•    “A Real Hot Topic: Preparing For and Surviving Inspections Under OSHA’s New Heat Illness National Emphasis Program” with Conn Maciel Carey LLP

View the full program and register at  

Bilingual Explore Beekeeping workshops coming up

Free beekeeping workshops hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs, Iowa State University, and Little Priest Tribal College will help those who are interested in getting started in the industry.

“Explore Beekeeping” will be Saturday, July 9, from 10 a.m. to noon, at the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach - Woodbury County, 4728 Southern Hills Drive, Sioux City, and Monday, Aug. 8, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., at 509 Buffalo Trail, Winnebago. The workshops will be presented in both English and Spanish.

“If you’re curious about beekeeping, join this training to learn about bee biology, how the hive functions as a system, costs to start beekeeping, and how to begin,” said Kirstin Bailey, senior project associate for the Center. “There will be a hands-on session with a presentation, as well as an opportunity to see the inside of a live hive.”

Registration is required one day in advance. Sign up at For more information, contact Bailey at or 402.870.2390.

New Report Examines Farmer Perspectives on 4R Plus Nutrient Loss Reduction

A recent report from the Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll at Iowa State University indicates that a major nutrient management effort called the 4R Plus initiative is having a positive impact.

4R Plus, a science-based framework designed to guide improved nutrient management among farmers, is promoted by a coalition of more than 50 public and private agricultural stakeholders and non-governmental conservation organizations.

Cover crops in corn.The approach is called 4R Plus because its core principles all start with the term “right": the right source of fertilizers, applied at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place. In other words, the 4Rs promote recommended nutrient management best practices for any given farming context. The “Plus” component of the 4R Plus refers to highly effective conservation practices such as cover crops that complement best nutrient management practices and further reduce nutrient losses while retaining or improving soil. The 4R Plus framework is promoted as a win-win approach that can minimize farming’s impacts on water quality while maintaining or improving productivity.

“The Farm Poll survey is an important tool for helping agricultural stakeholders to better understand the farmers they work with, so they can meet them where they are,” said Iowa State University Extension and Outreach sociologist J. Arbuckle, director of the annual survey of Iowa farmers. “For the 2021 survey, I worked with The Nature Conservancy, a key partner in the Iowa 4R Plus initiative, to develop survey questions that would gauge farmer awareness of the 4R Plus program and their perspectives on how well it’s working.”

Most farmers know about 4R Plus

The survey showed that about two-thirds of respondents were aware of the 4R Plus program, and had learned about it through diverse information sources such as the farm press, ISU Extension and Outreach and agricultural retailers. More importantly, many farmers reported using one or more of the main practices that 4R Plus promotes.

“We used a new kind of question to examine adoption or potential adoption of practices, one that determines how many farmers are using the practices, but also how many non-users are open to future use,” explained Arbuckle. “The survey showed that while overall farmer use of 4R Plus practices is far below where we need to be to meet the state’s soil health and water quality goals, many of the farmers who aren’t using the practices now either intend to try them soon or are at least open to the idea of future use.” Arbuckle further noted this means there is lots of room for progress. For example, about one-fifth of farmers who were not using cover crops intended to try them in the next three years and another 25% were not planning to use them but might in the future.

“The farmers who are planning to try practices or open to future use represent the next waves of adopters,” said Paige Frautschy, Iowa agriculture program director for The Nature Conservancy, who partnered on the survey design. “This information helps us understand what kind of progress we’re making, and which practices are of greatest interest to that next wave of adopters. Knowing that so many farmers may be ready to give 4R Plus practices a try is energizing for the many groups that are working toward the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.”

Farmers seeing positive impacts from 4R Plus practices

More than half of practice users reported that the practices they had adopted had resulted in positive impacts on soil health indicators and key agronomic outcomes including soil organic matter, water holding capacity and crop yields. Similarly, 48% believed the practices had reduced nutrient loss, 33% indicated that fertilizer needs were reduced and 29% reported reduced weed pressure.

“These findings that farmers are experiencing positive impacts helps make the case that 4R Plus practices make sense both environmentally and economically,” noted Frautschy.

Farmers and other stakeholders who would like to learn more about the 4R Plus initiative and access resources available through the program can visit

Known also as the “Farm Poll,” the Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll has been conducted since 1982, and is the longest-running survey of its kind in the nation. Questionnaires were mailed in February and March 2021, and 1,095 farmers responded to the statewide survey.

Other topics covered in the 2021 Farm Poll summary include community vitality, the impacts of COVID-19, renewable energy, carbon markets and use of various media for information and entertainment.

Armstrong Research Farm to Host Forage Field Day

Stressed pastures and high grain markets continue to limit forage productivity and land access for cattlemen. Many producers have turned toward integrating cover crops as an alternative to extend the grazing season, and some have even begun utilizing warm season annual forages to fill some voids during the summer slump.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Armstrong Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm will host a field day featuring ongoing forage research with summer annuals. The event will take place July 12 at the Wallace Learning Center on the research farm near Lewis.

The field day will start with a classroom session featuring swath grazing of warm season annuals as a winter feeding strategy. Head researcher Garland Dahlke of the Iowa Beef Center will discuss forage quality and utilization, and the challenges and successes of using pearl millet, forage sorghum and sorghum sudangrass for swath grazing in Iowa.

Attendees will have the opportunity to view summer annual test plots at the farm including German millet, pearl millet, sorghum sudangrass, sudangrass and teff. Warm season species selection, farm usage and application, forage nutrient value and anti-quality issues also are on the agenda.

Registration and a light meal begin at 5:30 p.m., and the program runs from 6 to 8 p.m. Other presenters are ISU Extension and Outreach Field Agronomist Aaron Sauegling and Beef Specialist Erika Lundy-Woolfolk.

The field day is free thanks to grants from the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center and the Southern Iowa Forage and Livestock Committee. To ensure adequate meal count, preregister by July 8 by calling the ISU Extension and Outreach Cass County office at 712-243-1132. For more information, contact Lundy-Woolfolk at

Advanced RUSLE2 Workshop to Be Offered for Manure Management Plan Writers

An Advanced Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE2 workshop) has been scheduled for service providers and producers who are working with RUSLE2 and Iowa P-Index to develop manure management plans. The workshop will be held at the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Polk County office, 1625 Adventureland Drive, Suite A, Altoona, on Aug. 4, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

This workshop will enable participants to explore practice-based changes that can be designed to reduce erosion. It will focus on principles governing conservation practices both in RUSLE2 and the Iowa Phosphorus Index. Participants will learn about common tillage and rotation-based errors as well as how to divide fields for calculating the P-Index. Participants will also learn about setting up different managements in RUSLE2.

Use of aerial imagery to identity conservation practices installed in Iowa farm fields will be discussed in depth. This workshop is a collaborative effort between USDA NRCS, Iowa DNR and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The workshop qualifies for six Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) Credits (6SW) and three Professional Development Hours (PDH). Participation certificates will be provided upon completion of the workshop.

Registration is open to all service providers, producers, CNMP/NMP/MMP writers and agency staff who are interested in learning in-depth knowledge about RUSLE2 operations and conservation practices. Participants are expected to have basic operating knowledge of RUSLE2 software and Iowa P-Index Calculator. Each registrant must bring a laptop computer pre-loaded with the latest version of RUSLE2. Class size is limited to 30 participants.

The workshop will be conducted by Kapil Arora, field agricultural engineer with ISU Extension and Outreach; Barb Stewart, retired agronomist; Don Carrington and Nichole Williams, USDA NRCS; and Jeremy Klatt of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Registration is $200 through Aug. 1 and $225 after. Fees include lunch, refreshments and workshop materials. Refunds will only be issued for written requests received before 5 p.m. on Aug. 1. A $25 processing fee applies to all refunded amounts. Registration can be completed online or by mailing in the registration form with fees.

For more information, contact Arora at 515-291-0174 or the ISU Extension and Outreach Polk County office at 515-957-5760.

Goodyear Announces New Sustainable Soy-Based Tires for City Transit and Waste Haul Fleets

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company recently announced that two lines of its commercial tires are now made with a renewable soybean oil compound. The Goodyear Metro Miler G152 and G652 tires for transit buses along with the popular Endurance™ WHA waste haul tire are now made with soybean oil, which replaces a portion of the petroleum-based materials used in their production. Both the Metro Miler tires and the Endurance WHA waste haul tire continue to deliver the expected high-performance benefits. The new soy-biobased tires build on the soy checkoff’s research investment and longstanding partnership with the global tire company.

“Goodyear’s roll out of their first soy-biobased tires for waste haul and city buses is a breakthrough for U.S. soybean growers and the cities that depend on high-performing and sustainable tires,” said USB Chair Ralph Lott, a soybean farmer from Seneca Falls, New York. “City and other fleet leaders have told us they want soy in tires for such heavy equipment. These big tires are another exciting way to deliver sustainable soy to more lives, every day.”

Goodyear had a goal to increase the use of soybean oil in place of petroleum-based oil by 25% by the end of 2019. Goodyear met, and far exceeded, this goal by increasing its soybean oil use by 90% in 2019, 73% in 2020 and 13% in 2021. Goodyear has a long-term goal to fully replace petroleum-derived oils in its products by 2040. This commitment drives additional demand for U.S. Soy products, grown sustainably by U.S. soybean farmers.

The Metro Miler and Endurance tires are just a few of various commercially available soy-biobased tires resulting from the checkoff research investment with Goodyear. The soybean SKUs also feature technology designed to resist sidewall damage, enhance toughness and provide long tread life.

“The use of soybean oil in the majority of the Metro Miler G152 and G652 tires in production today is a significant Goodyear innovation that reduces the amount of petroleum-based materials needed for production,” said Dustin Lancy, commercial product marketing manager, Goodyear North America.

Goodyear’s sixth line of tires containing soy are its popular Endurance waste haul tires. The tires are available for order and will head into production in Q3 of 2022.

R-CALF USA Statement on End of First of Two Beef Checkoff Cases

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied R-CALF USA’s petition requesting an appeal of the first of two lawsuits the group had filed against the operation of the mandatory beef checkoff program. The first lawsuit had previously been dismissed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard issued the following statement in response to the effective end of its first lawsuit.

“While obviously disappointed that our effort to force even more needed reforms upon the beef checkoff program has ended in our first of two lawsuits, we are grateful for the important reforms we did achieve for U.S. cattle producers.

“Our objective in this case was to bring an end to the corrupt manner in which the beef checkoff program was being operated. Specifically, we set out to stop the U.S. Department of Agriculture from unconstitutionally compelling U.S. cattle producers to fund the private speech of private state beef councils.

“We largely succeeded in that effort early in our case. In response to our lawsuit, the USDA took steps to assume necessary control over the speech of the state beef councils identified in our case to limit their ability to express private messages with the money that cattle producers are mandated to pay into the program.

“The district court found that those corrective steps taken by the USDA effectively transformed the preliminary injunction R-CALF USA had initially won into the lasting outcome the group had sought – “an end to USDA’s allegedly unconstitutional government-compelled subsidy of speech.” Having determined that we were the prevailing party in our request for a preliminary injunction, the district court awarded us over $150,000 in legal fees.

“Importantly, the district court found that USDA’s decades-long conduct in operating the beef checkoff program prior to R-CALF USA’s litigation was not substantially justified and stated: “USDA should have known that the program that R-CALF challenged was unconstitutional . . .”   

“Another important reform won in this case was that the USDA promulgated formal rules that now allow cattle producers to opt out of funding the activities of their state beef council.

“We will now focus on achieving additional reforms in our second lawsuit that alleges the USDA violated the law when it entered into agreements with numerous state beef councils to assume control over those council’s messaging. More specifically, we allege the USDA ignored its legal obligation to conduct a formal rulemaking process before taking such action.

“We are grateful for the exemplary legal representation provided by our lead counsel, David Muraskin, Litigation Director of the Public Justice Food Project, who helped us preserve the important protections our U.S. Constitution provides every citizen.”

Vilsack Announces Bioproduct Pilot Program Funded by Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for a new pilot program created under President Biden’s historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support the development of biobased products that have lower carbon footprints and increase the use of renewable agricultural materials, creating new revenue streams for farmers. This $10 million investment is part of the Biden-Administration’s ongoing work to rebuild our infrastructure and create good-paying jobs and economic opportunity in our rural communities.

Secretary Vilsack visited Dan and Debbie’s Creamery, a family-owned operation in Ely, Iowa, and met to discuss what impact this bioproduct pilot program and resulting innovations will have on operations like theirs, as well as the customers they serve. Dan and Debbie’s Creamery farm about 500 acres and have a 120 head dairy operation.

“Dan and Debbie represent the many American farmers, families and communities USDA is called to serve,” Vilsack said. “This pilot program is a critical part of USDA’s commitment to enhancing the circular economy and providing additional revenue streams for farmers. This program will help farmers take field residues and waste products and turn them into value-added products that create wealth and drive economic development in rural areas.”

Under this program, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) can award up to $10 million divided among the highest rated applications that include eligible universities and private-sector partners.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided funds for sustainable bioproduct manufacturing for construction and consumer products. The statute directs USDA to partner with “not less than one institution” to study the benefits of using materials derived from a very broad definition of “covered agricultural commodities.”

Complete information on this funding opportunity can be found on the NIFA website at: An informational webinar for those interested in applying will be held on July 14, 2022, at 2:00 – 3:30 pm Central Time. To register, please visit the Bioproduct Pilot Program Informational Webinar page.

This project will be implemented by a team of USDA experts from NIFA’s Institute of Bioenergy, Climate and Environment, USDA Rural Development’s BioPreferred Program and the U.S. Forest Service Wood Innovations Team and Forest Products Lab.

The Dairy Donation Program Celebrates June Dairy Month

Since its establishment in 1937, June Dairy Month has been an opportunity to showcase many aspects of dairy:  delicious products, nutrition, and important role in our diet. The contributions of the dairy industry are abundant, from the farmers who care responsibly for their land and their animals to the economic development and livelihoods in communities worldwide. The dairy industry works hard to feed the world and ensure nutritious dairy products are accessible to all.

To increase access to dairy products and reduce food waste, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the $400 million Dairy Donation Program (DDP) in August 2021. Through the DDP, eligible dairy organizations partner with non-profit feeding organizations—such as food banks, missions, and churches—that distribute food to individuals and families in need; these partnerships may apply for and receive reimbursements to cover some expenses related to eligible dairy product donations.

Dairy farmers, cooperatives, and processors that purchase fresh milk or bulk dairy products to process into retail-packaged dairy products and meet other requirements are eligible to participate. Costs reimbursed through the program include the cost of milk used to make the donated eligible dairy product and some of the manufacturing and transportation costs. Reimbursement of these costs is designed to help offset some of the costs associated with processing and donating eligible dairy products.

June Dairy Month is an excellent opportunity to learn about how the program can provide reimbursement for donations made to non-profits in your community. Participating in the DDP will help ensure that surplus dairy products are reaching those who need it most.

Program details are available at Please contact the Dairy Donation Program Team at with any questions or to learn how to apply.

Cost of July 4th Cookout 17% Higher Compared to Year Ago

U.S. consumers will pay $69.68 for their favorite Independence Day cookout foods, including cheeseburgers, pork chops, chicken breasts, homemade potato salad, strawberries and ice cream, based on a new American Farm Bureau Federation marketbasket survey.

The average cost of a summer cookout for 10 people is $69.68, which breaks down to less than $7 per person. The overall cost for the cookout is up 17% or about $10 from last year, a result of ongoing supply chain disruptions, inflation and the war in Ukraine.

Farmers are feeling the price-point pain too, like the people they grow food for, according to AFBF Chief Economist Roger Cryan.

“Despite higher food prices, the supply chain disruptions and inflation have made farm supplies more expensive; like consumers, farmers are price-takers not price-makers,” Cryan said. He added, “Bottom line, in many cases the higher prices farmers are being paid aren’t covering the increase in their farm expenses. The cost of fuel is up and fertilizer prices have tripled.”

Cryan also pointed to the cascading effects of the war in Ukraine, as that country’s contributions to global food security are cut off, Russian and Belarusian fertilizer exports are constrained, and some other countries pull back exports to protect their domestic supplies.

The marketbasket survey shows the largest year-to-year price increase was for ground beef.

Survey results showed the retail price for 2 pounds of ground beef at $11.12, up 36% from last year. Meanwhile, the Agriculture Department’s Producer Price Index indicates that compared to a year ago, farm-level cattle prices are up 17.5%, but wholesale beef prices are down 14%. This serves to highlight the differences between farm-level, wholesale and retail beef prices and how the events of the last few years have had significant impacts on the beef production and cattle pricing cycles, making them all hard to predict.

Several other foods in the survey, including chicken breasts, pork chops, homemade potato salad, fresh-squeezed lemonade, pork & beans, hamburger buns and cookies, also increased in price.

One bright spot for consumers is the average retail price for strawberries, which declined by 86 cents compared to a year ago. Sliced cheese and potato chips also dropped in price, 48 cents and 22 cents, respectively. Better weather conditions in some fruit-growing regions and greater retailer pricing flexibility for processed products are the likely drivers behind the modest price declines for these items.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food at home and general inflation across the economy. Both the index and the marketbasket show increases of more than 10% compared to year-ago levels.

“According to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series, farmers currently receive approximately 8% of every food marketing dollar,” Cryan said. “The farmers’ share of the retail food dollar is as low as 2% to 4% for highly processed foods such as bread and cereal, and can be 35% or more for some fresh products.”

Commenting on big picture concerns related to food security, AFBF President Zippy Duvall said: “The increased cost of food and supplies is a very real concern in our country and across the globe. U.S. food assistance programs and food banks help those who struggle to make ends meet here at home, but the story is much different around the globe as food insecurity skyrockets. The big impact of a single event in Ukraine shows how dependent the world is on stable, productive agriculture.”

Individual Prices, AFBF 2022 Summer Cookout
2 pounds of ground beef, $11.12 (+36%)
2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, $8.99 (+33%)
32 ounces of pork & beans, $2.53 (+33%)
3 pounds of center cut pork chops, $15.26 (+31%)
2.5 quarts of fresh-squeezed lemonade, $4.43 (+22%)
2.5 pounds of homemade potato salad, $3.27 (+19%)
8 hamburger buns, $1.93 (+16%)
Half-gallon of vanilla ice cream, $5.16 (+10%)
13-ounce bag of chocolate chip cookies, $4.31 (+7%)
2 pints of strawberries, $4.44 (-16%)
1 pound of sliced cheese, $3.53 (-13%)
16-ounce bag of potato chips, $4.71 (-4%)

The July 4th cookout survey is part of the Farm Bureau marketbasket series, which also includes the popular annual Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Survey of common food staples Americans use to prepare meals at home.

Data for this year’s survey was collected by 176 volunteer shoppers across the country and in Puerto Rico, including Farm Bureau members and others.

Crow's Seed Being Re-Launched in Eastern Corn Belt

Follows Re-establishment of Midwest Seed Genetics and NC+

Crow’s Seed is being re-launched in the Eastern Corn Belt, by Outward Ag, LLC. Driven by a team of agricultural entrepreneurs, this follows the re-establishment of Midwest Seed Genetics in the Central and Northern Corn Belt and NC+ in the West. Over the past four years, Midwest, and NC+ have been two of the fastest growing seed brands in U.S. row crop agriculture.

Crow’s Hybrids, originally from Milford, IL, was one of the pioneering hybrid seed brands, launched in 1935. Over six decades, it provided strong performing seed through strong local relationships. In the late 1990s, Don Funk acquired Crow’s and turned this local company into a regional powerhouse. Crow’s became a key foundational brand that spurred the record-setting growth of Channel, subsequently acquired by Monsanto, now Bayer.

“There is great passion among farmers and seed professionals for what the future could hold, but there is also frustration. The people of agriculture are being left behind. While the rest of the industry turns inward, we are outward-focused. We know the trusted relationships between seed professionals and their customers, earned season after season, are the cornerstone of success. With the launch of Midwest and NC+, and now with Crow’s, we are putting people first.” says Erik Nelson, CEO, Outward Ag.

“Growing up in the seed business, Crow’s was always a well-respected, regional brand. When my father Don acquired it in the late nineties, he turned it into a rocket ship, introducing new technologies and traits to a generation of farmers. Today, farmers are telling us they want choice. They want a simpler way of doing things. They want the gimmicks and layers of corporate agriculture stripped away. So now, Crow’s will do just that, in a geography where it is needed,” says Dan Funk, who handles marketing for Outward Ag.

Industry veteran, Michelle Vigna will lead efforts to re-introduce Crow’s to the Eastern Corn Belt. Over a wide-ranging career at Monsanto, now Bayer, Vigna notably served as the System Launch Manager for the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System in US Product Management and Marketing from 2012 through 2014. Following this, she led Monsanto’s DEKALB/Asgrow sales team as the Area Business Manager in Northern Indiana.

“My focus has always been to support American farmers in the manner that they need to be successful in their businesses. I see the re-launch of Crow’s as an opportunity to do this, by bringing simplicity and a customer-first approach in delivering the highest quality seed possible. That’s all we will be focused on, “says Vigna.

“Don Funk launched Outward Ag with the single premise of providing a highly capable, and fiercely independent new option to the American Row Crop Farmer as their voice and needs should be what matters most. We have surrounded ourselves with good and solid individuals throughout our network and within our company and look forward to over-exceeding expectations for our partners for many years to come.” says Nelson.

Wilbur-Ellis Partners with Guardian Agriculture in Multi-Million Dollar Agreement to Bring Autonomous Aerial Application to Growers Across America

Guardian Agriculture, a leading innovator and developer of the first fully autonomous crop protection aircraft system, secured a multi-million-dollar partnership with Wilbur-Ellis, a leading marketer, distributor and manufacturer of agriculture products, specialty chemicals, and animal feed. The partnership will give Wilbur-Ellis customers an opportunity to access this state-of-the-art technology before anyone else.

“This is the first new aerial technology to make a material impact on American farms. We believe it can be profitably and rapidly deployed and are looking forward to working with Guardian Ag to roll out their technology to our customers and partners,” said Chief Executive Officer of Cavallo Ventures at Wilbur-Ellis, Mike Wilbur.

Guardian Ag’s fully electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft system can safely and securely deliver precision application of crop protection in a fraction of the time and cost. The autonomous aircraft can carry multi-hundred-pound payloads and address a wide range of application spray volumes and application needs for growers. With four six-foot propellers and an overall 15-foot aircraft width, the eVTOL system efficiently covers 40 acres per hour of full-field crop protection to the grower.

Designed and manufactured in the U.S. and combining an autonomous aircraft, a ground station supercharger, and software generating domestically stored data, the eVTOL systems offer on-target application to fields when and where necessary. Using industry standard nozzles, pressure, droplet sizes, and application volumes, Guardian’s eVTOL aircraft systems are one of the most safe and cost-effective methods to deliver full-field application.

“Guardian’s technology delivers tremendous benefits to both growers and the environment,” said Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Guardian Ag, Adam Bercu. “Growers can expect a cost-effective application that will solve critical problems with coverage quality, sustainability, repeatability, and eliminate off-target spray and overspray,” he said.

With in-flight monitoring, measurement, and data collection capabilities, application variables are collected in real-time, including wind speed, temperature, obstructions, and more. Coupled with pre-planned flight plans, designated spray boundaries and spray rates, Guardian’s systems will significantly reduce application errors by providing superior spray quality with reduced environmental and economic risk impacts. “Our autonomous systems deliver high-precision crop protection, enabling significant improvements in environmental safety for workers, soil health, and beneficial insect conservation,” said Jeff Sparks, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Guardian Ag. Additionally, eVTOL systems are 100 percent electric and capable of reducing emissions by millions of pounds annually when compared to traditional application methods.

“As the largest commercial commitment to agriculture robotics to date, this investment and partnership signify Wilbur-Ellis’ dedication to delivering meaningful, impactful innovation and technology to growers across our footprint,” said John Buckley, President and Chief Executive Officer of Wilbur-Ellis. Wilbur-Ellis’ application business currently covers approximately five million acres annually. The eVTOL systems will support Wilbur-Ellis’ strong aerial operations business throughout its large share of the aerial application market by adding eVTOL aircraft to its current helicopter and fixed-wing fleets.

“We are excited to make an early investment in this technology, which is the only unmanned aerial application system available today, and we’re even more excited to partner with Guardian to commercialize it and bring it to our customers,” said John Kuhn, Director of Business Development at Wilbur-Ellis. Operating in strong collaboration, both companies have worked together over the last year to commercialize and bring American growers advanced technology that will have immediate positive impacts for their business.

Guardian’s regulatory approval process is well under way, with commercialization and availability to growers occurring in 2023. “Guardian’s autonomy and powertrain technologies allow us to rapidly expand our product line to meet the needs of all American farmers,” said Dan Cody, Guardian’s Vice President of Software.

With the Salinas Valley of California being eyed for potential first deployment of the eVTOL aircraft in 2023, Willie Negroni, Wilbur-Ellis Director of Sales, commented, “Guardian’s aircraft solution complements our current aerial application business in the Salinas Valley and we see opportunity for customers, particularly around hard-to-spray areas, because eVTOL systems have the potential to provide a better application than what is currently available today.”

“It’s always great to see a company Cavallo Ventures has invested in grow into a commercial partnership with one of Wilbur-Ellis’ divisions, such as what we’re seeing today with Guardian Ag and our Agribusiness Division,” said Mike Wilbur of Cavallo Ventures. “Over its 100-year history, Wilbur-Ellis has always been, and continues to be, a leader of technological and innovative advances that make real differences for our customers. Our venture capital arm, Cavallo Ventures, actively seeks out new and exciting opportunities. I’m excited to add more flexibility and choices for our customers.”

Mark Ripato, Wilbur-Ellis Agribusiness President, said: “EVTOL systems allow Wilbur-Ellis to give customers more options for precise application to acreage, helping growers make the best decisions about when and how they treat their crops. It’s particularly exciting to expand our already successful aerial business with a technology that is new to the market and one that I feel will make a real difference for our growers’ crop success and give them a positive return on the investment with us.”

Guardian Agriculture was co-founded by Adam Bercu and Jeff Sparks out of the need to make tangible, meaningful, positive impacts on the world with electric systems. Seeking to solve actual, everyday problems growers face, Guardian Ag is accelerating sustainable farming by providing access to precision application to all American farmers, dramatically improving crop protection, the environment, and the farmer’s bottom line. “We’re making the future that we dreamed of as children come to life by creating technology that will benefit the real world,” said Guardian Ag’s COO, Jeff Sparks. Guardian Ag has delivered the first-of-its-kind unmanned aerial crop application aircraft and Wilbur-Ellis is excited to commercialize this American-made solution and make it available to growers across the country.

Monday June 27 Crop Progress & Ag News


For the week ending June 26, 2022, there were 6.5 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 20% very short, 37% short, 42% adequate, and 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 21% very short, 35% short, 43% adequate, and 1% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 3% very poor, 9% poor, 24% fair, 51% good, and 13% excellent.

Soybean condition rated 4% very poor, 8% poor, 26% fair, 50% good, and 12% excellent. Soybeans emerged was 97%, near 98% last year, and equal to the five-year average. Blooming was 6%, behind 20% last year and 15% average.

Winter wheat condition rated 16% very poor, 18% poor, 44% fair, 19% good, and 3% excellent. Winter wheat harvested was 1%, equal to last year, and near 2% average.

Sorghum condition rated 1% very poor, 10% poor, 27% fair, 57% good, and 5% excellent. Sorghum headed was 1%, equal to last year, and near 4% average.

Oats condition rated 11% very poor, 16% poor, 24% fair, 45% good, and 4% excellent. Oats headed was 93%, near 92% last year, and ahead of 87% average.

Dry edible bean condition rated 1% very poor, 6% poor, 23% fair, 58% good, and 12% excellent. Dry edible beans planted was 96%. Emerged was 85%, near 89% last year.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 12% very poor, 29% poor, 33% fair, 24% good, and 2% excellent.


Mostly warm and dry conditions resulted in 5.8 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending June 26, 2022, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Fieldwork activities included cutting hay and spraying crops.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 6 percent very short, 22 percent short, 67 percent adequate and 5 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture condition rated 5 percent very short, 22 percent short, 68 percent adequate and 5 percent surplus.

Corn condition rating was 80 percent good to excellent.

Ninety-seven percent of soybeans have emerged, 4 days behind last year but 3 days ahead of the 5-year average. Two percent of soybeans were blooming, 12 days behind last year and 1 week behind the average. Iowa’s soybean condition rating remained 80 percent good to excellent.

Eighty percent of the oat crop has headed, 2 days behind last year. Twelve percent of oats were turning color, 6 days behind last year. Iowa’s oat condition was 81 percent good to excellent.

Ninety-one percent of the State’s first cutting of alfalfa hay has been completed and the second cutting has started with 6 percent complete. All hay condition rated 72 percent good to excellent. Pasture condition rated 62 percent good to excellent.

USDA Crop Progress Report: Corn, Soybean Condition Ratings Drop 3 Percentage Points

U.S. corn and soybeans were developing at a near-average pace, but conditions for both crops slid again last week for the second week in a row, USDA NASS reported in its weekly Crop Progress on Monday.

-- Crop development: 4% of corn was silking as of Sunday, June 26, according to NASS. That is equal to both last year's pace and the five-year average.
-- Crop condition: 67% of corn was rated in good-to-excellent condition, down 3 percentage point from 70% the previous week but up from 64% a year ago.

-- Planting progress: 98% nationwide as of Sunday, up 4 percentage points from the previous week, and 1 percentage point ahead of the five-year average of 97%.
-- Crop development: 91% of soybeans had emerged nationwide as of Sunday, equal to the five-year average. Seven percent of soybeans were blooming, 6 percentage points behind last year's 13% and 4 percentage points behind the five-year average of 11%.
-- Crop condition: 65% of soybeans were rated in good-to-excellent condition, down 3 percentage points from 68% the previous week but up from 60% last year.

-- Crop development: 98% of the winter wheat crop was headed nationwide as of Sunday, equal to the five-year average.
-- Harvest progress: 41% of the crop was harvested as of Sunday, 10 percentage points ahead of last year and 6 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 35%.
-- Crop condition: 30% of winter wheat was rated good to excellent, unchanged from the previous week and below last year's rating of 48%. That portion of the crop rated very poor to poor remained unchanged at 43%.

-- Crop development: 98% of the crop had emerged as of Sunday, 1 percentage point behind the five-year average of 99%. Only 8% of the crop was headed, 37 percentage points behind last year and 26 percentage points behind the five-year average of 34%.
-- Crop condition: 59% of the crop was rated in good-to-excellent condition, unchanged from the previous week and well above last year's rating of 20%.


Free Farm and Ag Law Clinics Set for July

Free legal and financial clinics are being offered for farmers and ranchers across the state in July. 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
    Tuesday, July 5 — Fairbury
    Friday, July 8 — Norfolk
    Friday, July 22 — Grand Island
    Wednesday, July 27 — Norfolk
    Thursday, July 28 — Valentine

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.

Watch for Aphids and Potato Leafhoppers in Nebraska Alfalfa

Tom Hunt - Extension Entomologist

Several species of aphids may occur in Nebraska alfalfa. We have received a report of high numbers of spotted alfalfa in one field in the Scottsbluff, Nebraska area seen at first cutting. There are four aphids commonly seen in Nebraska alfalfa — pea aphid, spotted alfalfa, blue alfalfa aphid and cowpea aphid. They differ in their seasonal occurrence and damage potential.

Insecticide options for Nebraska alfalfa can be found in 2022 Guide for Weed, Disease, And Insect Management, Nebraska Extension Circular 130.

Nebraska Extension Educator Nathan Mueller reported seeing potato leafhoppers in Gage County on June 15. Potato leafhoppers have the potential to injure alfalfa in Nebraska every year. They don't overwinter in Nebraska but rather are brought in on southerly winds. Generally, they are a second and third cutting pest. If you have not yet started to scout for potato leafhopper, now would be a good time to begin.

These small (1/8 inch long), bright green, wedge-shaped insects may cause severe damage to alfalfa. This feeding results in a distinctive yellow or purple triangle shape at the leaf tip. First year, spring planted alfalfa fields are particularly attractive to and vulnerable to potato leafhoppers, as are fields planted last year. In older fields, these insects are usually a problem on second and third cuttings.

Application deadline approaching for 5th annual IAWA Iowa Watershed Awards

Nominations and applications for the IAWA Iowa Watershed Awards are due this Thursday, June 30th. You can apply at

If you know someone who is making an impact on Iowa’s water quality, nominate them or encourage them to apply! The Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA) and partners want to recognize them through three different awards for their exceptional work to help implement the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

Here is a brief summary of the awards:
    Watershed Coordinator of the Year – an award specifically for watershed coordinators in Iowa. One person will receive $6,000 for their watershed and professional development.
    Impact Award for the private sector – an award recognizing one person in the private sector for the work they do to improve water quality. This could include but is not limited to conservation agronomists, farmers, business leaders, land improvement contractors, etc.
    Impact Award for the public sector – an award recognizing one person in the public sector for the work they do to improve water quality. This could include but is not limited to environmental specialists, biologists, researchers, program staff, etc.

If the honoree cannot accept outside funding for professional development, the funding will go toward the local watershed project.

The awards program is a partnership among IAWA, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Conservation Districts of Iowa (CDI).

“It’s inspiring each year to discover and share the highly effective and unique ways that Iowa’s watershed coordinators and other water quality professionals in the public and private sectors are working with local stakeholders to improve Iowa’s water quality and help advance implementation of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy,” said Sean McMahon, Executive Director of IAWA.

Winners will be announced at the 2022 Iowa Water Conference in September, hosted by the Iowa Water Center. Honorees will be notified in advance.

The Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA) is increasing the pace and scale of farmer-led efforts to improve water quality in Iowa. Founded in 2014 by the Iowa Corn, Iowa Soybean, and Iowa Pork Producers Associations, IAWA builds public-private partnerships focused on implementing water quality solutions. Learn more at

 Supreme Court Rejects R-CALF Lawsuit, Ending Effort Against Beef Checkoff

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States denied R-CALF’s lawsuit against 13 state beef councils and the Beef Checkoff. This ruling effectively ends yet another R-CALF attack on the Beef Checkoff and prevents the activist attorneys at Public Justice, from further diverting Checkoff and beef industry resources.

“For too long we have allowed R-CALF and their attorneys to divide our industry and draw attention away from the important job of beef promotion and research. The Supreme Court’s rejection of R-CALF’s petition confirms the Beef Checkoff, and its overseers, are adhering to the letter and spirit of the laws that protect and guide producer investments in the program,” said NCBA CEO Colin Woodall.

NCBA intervened in the lawsuit in its early days to help defend state beef councils from R-CALF and their activist attorneys, who falsely attacked state beef councils and the cattlemen and women who volunteer their time to support the industry as Checkoff leaders. Multiple court decisions rejected these allegations and reaffirmed the work and direction of the Beef Checkoff and those who guide it.

“R-CALF has repeatedly attacked the Beef Checkoff, engaging lawyers who are closely aligned with extremist animal rights groups like PETA and others, in an attempt to further their efforts,” said Woodall. “It’s time that our industry stands up to R-CALF and insists that they end these attacks on the Beef Checkoff and the volunteer cattle producers who direct it.”

Another Record Cattle on Feed

David P. Anderson Extension Economist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

The latest USDA Cattle on Feed report (June) reported another record number of cattle on feed for a June 1, 11.846 million head. That was 142,000 head more than in June 2021. While a record for the month, following a number of monthly record large on-feed numbers, it’s worth recognizing that the total number of cattle on feed is declining, and has been since February. The decline in cattle-on-feed is fairly normal, but it usually really ramps up after June. Over the 2016-2020 five-year average, the number of cattle on feed has declined 542,000 head from June to September. Last year, on-feed numbers declined 630,000 head over the same period. Typically, over the summer months, on feed numbers decline as placements moderate and marketings grow.

More lighter weight cattle were placed, under 700 pounds, while fewer heavier cattle were placed. The result was a 2.1 percent decline in total placements. Half of the increase in light weight placements were in Texas. Each of the weight categories heavier than 699 pounds were below a year ago. Over 700 pound placements declined 5.5 percent from last year.  

Marketings were 2.6 percent greater than last year in May. While the year-over-year increase is positive for overall market conditions, daily average marketings might also be considered a little disappointing. There was one more slaughter day in May compared to last year resulting in a 5 percent increase in “slaughter days” but a smaller increase in actual slaughter.

What to watch for in next month’s report? The quarterly number of heifers on feed will be released. That will mean more evidence of herd liquidation and reflects how there continues to be record large number of cattle-on-feed given a smaller cow herd. The total number of cattle in feedlots should begin to decline sharply. And will the current trend of increasing light weight placements continue?

ASA Now Seeking Nominations for Annual Soy Recognition Awards

The American Soybean Association (ASA) wants to recognize exceptional soy volunteers and leaders—and we need your help. During 2023 Commodity Classic, individuals will be recognized and honored for state association volunteerism, distinguished leadership achievements and long-term, significant contributions to the soybean industry. The nomination period is open through Oct. 24, 2022.

The Recognition Awards categories are:
    Outstanding State Volunteer Award–Recognizes the dedication and contributions of individuals who have given at least three years of volunteer service in any area of the state soybean association operation.
    ASA Distinguished Leadership Award–Distinguished and visionary leadership of ASA or a state soybean association is recognized with this award to either a soybean grower-leader or association staff leader with at least five years of leadership service.
    ASA Pinnacle Award–An industry-wide recognition of those individuals who have demonstrated the highest level of contribution and lifetime leadership within the soybean family and industry.

For more information and to submit nominations, click here

All nominations must be received online no later than Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. Nominations by telephone, email or fax will not be accepted. A judging committee will make final selections.

Awards will be presented to the winners at the 2023 Commodity Classic, March 9-11, in Orlando, Florida.

Scoular updates facility in Missouri

Scoular has completed an extensive upgrade to its grain handling facility in western Missouri that triples grain unloading speeds for farmers and expands storage space in time for wheat harvest.

Scoular built the facility in Adrian, Missouri, in 2012. This expansion is the second major addition since inception. Increased yields and strong demand for soybeans, especially for renewable diesel, have driven the upgrades. The latest upgrade brings Scoular’s total investment in the facility over the past decade to more than $15 million. Scoular’s Matt O’Hern has managed the facility during its decade of growth and all phases of construction.

“This investment is critical to better serving farmers and strategically enhancing our network in the region,” said Ron Bingham, Scoular Senior Vice President and Grain Division Manager. “Matt and his team have done an outstanding job serving our customers, and this upgrade demonstrates our commitment to providing a modern, efficient facility for them.”

The latest upgrade (compared with initial construction):
    Triples grain unloading speed.
    Quadruples upright storage space to 1.2 million bushels.
    Doubles ground storage.
    Quadruples track capacity to 110 cars.

An hour south of Kansas City, the facility is strategically located on the MNA short line railroad and serves multiple markets including soybean processors, poultry feeders and flour mills, providing producers efficient access to regional, domestic and export markets.

Along with wheat, the facility handles corn and soybeans. The facility is part of Scoular’s Midwestern grain handling network that includes over 50 facilities in Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska.  

Growth Energy Challenges EPA’s Decision to Excuse Refineries from Biofuel Obligations

Growth Energy filed petitions for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to excuse certain refineries from their obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). In a decision announced this April, EPA reversed 31 small refinery exemptions (SREs) it had previously granted for the 2018 compliance year but declined to hold affected refiners accountable for meeting any blending obligations for that year. Instead, EPA crafted a novel ‘alternative compliance’ approach that excused these refiners from ever having to comply with their 2018 blending obligations. In June, EPA reaffirmed this approach when it excused additional refiners whose petitions for 2016 and 2017 SREs it denied for the first time.

“EPA’s ‘alternative’ approach to RFS compliance provides no actual alternatives for refineries to meet their biofuel blending obligations,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “It’s a mistake that needlessly pulls EPA off the forward-looking path this administration set under the new 2022 Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO). As President Biden said in Iowa, ‘you simply can’t get to net-zero by 2050 without biofuels'. To take full advantage of the carbon reductions and cost savings offered by biofuels, EPA must hold refineries accountable to their blending obligations.”

In August 2019, the Trump administration’s EPA approved an unprecedented 31 SREs for the 2018 RVO compliance year with only a cursory, two-page decision. A coalition of biofuels and ag leaders, including Growth Energy, filed a petition in the D.C. Circuit Court challenging EPA’s decision. The coalition asked the court to stay the 2018 SRE case in November 2019 pending the outcome of related litigation in both the 10th Circuit and D.C. Circuit Courts. In January 2020, the 10th Circuit ruled in Renewable Fuels Association et al. v. EPA that EPA has no power to ‘extend’ an exemption that had lapsed. The Court also held that EPA lacks the authority to grant an exemption based on hardships not caused by RFS compliance, and also found that it was arbitrary and capricious for EPA to ignore its own prior studies showing that refiners recoup RFS compliance costs.

On June 25, 2021, in HollyFrontier v. Renewable Fuels Association, the Supreme Court vacated the 10th Circuit’s holding that EPA may only ‘extend’ continuously pre-existing exemptions but the other two holdings from the 10th Circuit decision remained intact. Thus, EPA had the opportunity to apply the other two 10th Circuit precedents not challenged in the HollyFrontier case and request a remand and vacatur of the 31 SREs at issue in the D.C. Circuit. However, on August 25, 2021, EPA instead filed a motion to remand the SREs without vacatur. In response, the D.C. Circuit remanded the exemptions back to EPA, but, as a result of this biofuel coalition’s motion in opposition, required the agency to make new determinations on the contested SREs no later than April 7, 2022.

On April 7, 2022, EPA denied all 31 SREs on remand. Instead of requiring the affected refineries to blend biofuels or purchase RINs, however, EPA issued an “Alternative Compliance Demonstration Approach” document that allowed the affected refineries to “resubmit their 2018 RFS annual compliance reports with zero deficit carryforward and no additional RIN requirements,” effectively nullifying the refineries’ obligations for the 2018 compliance year, even though their SREs were denied.  Rather than require these refineries to blend biofuel or purchase additional Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) as obligated to do under the RFS, EPA’s alternative compliance simply cites a litany of unconvincing “insurmountable obstacles” to ensuring compliance.

On June 3, 2022, EPA reaffirmed its “alternative compliance demonstration approach” by granting the same relief to three refineries that had sought SREs for the 2016 and 2017 compliance years. Unlike the 31 SREs denied upon remand for the 2018 compliance year, these three refineries had never previously been granted the SREs.

Joint Statement on FDA's Drought Tolerant HB4 Wheat Safety Conclusion

Joint Statement by U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conclusion that it has no further questions regarding the safety of drought tolerant HB4 wheat developed by Bioceres Crop Solutions Corp.
The finding by the FDA is not an approval for this or any other transgenic wheat to be planted for commercial sale in the United States. To date, the HB4 wheat has been approved for commercial production within a closed system in Argentina only. The trait has been approved for human consumption by regulators in Brazil in the form of flour, and in Australia, New Zealand and now in the United States. Bioceres recently announced it will seek approval to plant HB4 wheat in Australia, but it has not announced plans to commercialize the in the United States.

With global demand for wheat increasing every year the need to produce more wheat in sustainable ways is clear. Drought had already reduced world wheat supplies and pushed prices higher before the invasion of Ukraine cut off supplies from the world’s fifth largest wheat exporting nation. A trait such as drought tolerance in wheat could help wheat growers in increasingly arid regions be more productive and ease food security concerns. Bioceres says the HB4 drought-tolerance technology has been shown to increase wheat yields by an average of 20% in water-limited conditions.

The U.S. wheat industry recognizes the benefits and value that can be created through the prudent application of modern biotechnology. USW and NAWG are guided by jointly approved “Wheat Industry Principles for Biotechnology Commercialization,” which lay out specific steps expected from plant breeding companies if they wish to commercialize transgenic wheat in the United States.

In addition, USW and NAWG support the ability of domestic and overseas customers to make purchases based on their preferences for specific wheat traits, classes, qualities and characteristics.

Northern Corn Leaf Blight Identification and Management

Northern corn leaf blight (NCLB) is a foliar disease that, if left untreated, can cause significant yield loss. Yield losses are most severe when NCLB infects corn plants early and reaches the upper leaves by the beginning of ear fill.

While it can be found wherever corn is grown, three main factors lead to NCLB infection: air temperature, high humidity and leaf wetness hours. Early NCLB symptoms appear as long, narrow, tan lesions that form parallel to leaf margins. The cigar-shaped lesions produce olive-green or black fungal spores when humidity is high, which can give the lesions a dark or dirty appearance.

Disease spores are spread locally by rain splash, where primary infections are produced. Secondary spread occurs from plant-to-plant and field-to-field as spores are carried long distances by the wind. It has also spread in recent years due to major weather events, especially hurricanes, which carry the organism from southern climates to North America.

Infections generally begin on lower leaves and then progress up the plant. However, in severe NCLB outbreak years (that have high spore levels), infections may begin in the upper plant canopy.

“We really want to protect the ear leaf and the upper third of our crop canopy in order to maximize our crop health,” said Adam Owens, Pioneer Field Agronomist.  

Yield loss from NCLB occurs when lesions reduce the leaf area of the plant that carries out photosynthesis. The more lesions on a plant and the earlier in the season the lesions develop, the greater the loss of photosynthetic area and the greater the potential yield loss.

Effective NCLB management practices include selecting resistant hybrids, reducing corn residue in the field, timely planting, and applying foliar fungicides.

Decisions to use a fungicide should be based on the disease risk factors of the field, including hybrid susceptibility, cropping sequence, tillage system, location, disease history, yield potential, the price of corn, and expected weather during reproductive development.