Thursday, August 4, 2022

Wednesday August 3 Ag News

 Retailers Offering High Ethanol Blends Can Now Apply for Tax Credits  

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts invited retailers who sell higher ethanol blends of fuel to apply for tax credits made available through the passage of Legislative Bill (LB) 1261e.  Gov. Ricketts signed the bill into law this spring after it was passed unanimously by the Nebraska Legislature.

The Nebraska Department of Revenue is administering the program and began applications for the credits on Monday, August 1st.  For more information or to apply, visit

“Utilizing ethanol should be a centerpiece of our national strategy to lower gas prices,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “Ethanol saves drivers money at the pump, is better for the environment, and creates opportunities for farm families here in Nebraska.  As a state, we’re doing our part to grow U.S. energy production by encouraging sales of renewable fuel.”

In Nebraska, E85 is available at 124 fueling stations.  E15 is available at 112 fueling stations, and that number continues to grow.

“At the retail level, very simply put, E15 is better fuel and it costs less,” said Randy Gard, chief operating officer of Bosselman Enterprises and secretary of the Nebraska Ethanol Board.  “We are excited about the passage of LB1261e and what it can do for our customers.  If you are a retailer, there is now nothing standing in your way today to make the transition from E10, the standard fuel most people use today, to joining this mass conversion to E15.  There are incentives with LB1261e, there’s consumer demand, there are certainly price pressures, and increased availability at the terminals.  This is a win for everybody…retailers, legislators, farmers and ranchers, and especially users of ethanol who support Nebraska’s economy, help the environment, and save money every time they fill up.”

Bosselman Enterprises, located in Grand Island, was an early adopter of E15 at many of its Pump and Pantry locations across the state.  They continue to see double digit sales growth for E15 every year.

By selling a 10% blend at the pump, fuel retailers are already helping Nebraskans save at least $275 million per year.  That savings increases when higher blends are figured in.

“Right now, for some, choosing ethanol is what’s helping them budget for groceries and pay other bills,” said Reid Wagner, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board.  “While there are many other benefits of the fuel, the cost savings are what has motivated the government to make real changes quickly.  The Biden Administration continues to allow E15 to be used throughout the summer, and now, the Nebraska Legislature is rewarding retailers for providing healthier, lower cost fuel options for their constituents.  We know the continued relief ethanol provides economically and environmentally and will continue sharing that message until higher ethanol blends are easily accessible to everyone.”

Choose Ethanol, Save Money

E15, a blend of gasoline and 15% ethanol, is safe and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use in vehicles 2001 or newer, light-duty trucks, medium-duty passenger vehicles (SUVs), and all flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs).  Flex fuel vehicles use the highest ethanol blends, up to E85.
-    When you choose E10, expect a $.40 to $.50 savings per gallon versus ethanol-free fuel options.
-    E15 can provide up to an additional $.10 savings per gallon.
-    If you have a flex fuel vehicle, you will likely save $1 or more per gallon when you choose E85.

To find locations where ethanol is sold, visit

Interested in Selling High Ethanol Blends?

Over 96% of the cars, trucks, and SUVs on the road today are legally approved to run on E15.  E15 has both a higher-octane rating and costs less than regular unleaded due to its higher ethanol content.  This gives retailers a lower-priced, higher-octane fuel they can market to consumers.

Retailers who would like more information about selling higher blends of ethanol can reach out to the Nebraska Ethanol Board at 402-471-2941 or visit the resources tab at  Funding for infrastructure is also available.  Find details at


Plant science is opening up promising opportunities to create environmentally friendly bioproducts — fuels, lubricants and other products that substitute for petroleum-based ones. Researchers with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources are exploring a range of innovative approaches.

A key focus involves new types of vegetable oils with fatty acid structures that enable production of biomaterials in significant quantity. To create those oils on the needed scale, scientists first must conduct complex research to understand the oils’ enzymes and genes.

Research by Husker biochemist Ed Cahoon and colleagues is advancing this scientific knowledge. The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recently published the findings by Cahoon and his collaborators in Nebraska’s Center for Plant Science Innovation and Department of Biochemistry, the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, Prince of Songkla University in Thailand and Huazhong Agricultural University in China.

The IANR project studied a specific, unusual fatty acid in Thunbergia, a tropical vine. The acid is unusual in that the plant chemicals have unconventional molecular chains that give new functional properties to vegetable oils. Understanding the enzymes that create the fatty acid was essential for the researchers. Because of their distinct properties, these enzymes are particularly suited to produce genetically engineered plants rich in the fatty acid.

Genetically modified sorghum, for example, lends itself well to such genomic modification and is a focus of Cahoon and his IANR colleagues. Once modified in that way, sorghum’s fatty acid has strong potential for facilitating production of biofuels and biomaterials.

“Nature makes enzymes do certain things,” said Cahoon, George W. Holmes Professor of biochemistry. “If we can learn from the plants that do something different, we can design the enzymes to have new functions,” such as creation of specialty chemicals. Such efforts are known as protein engineering, stemming from the understanding of the oilseed enzymes and their three-dimensional structures.

As Cahoon and his colleagues write in their new paper, studies of unusual monounsaturated fatty acids “have provided a wealth of biochemical information and biotechnological utility.” (Monounsaturated fats have a “double bond” in their molecular structure, resulting in the oil being liquid at room temperature but solid when chilled.)

Petroselinic acid was the main unusual fatty acid studied by Cahoon and his colleagues in their analysis of Thunbergia. The scientists found the plant’s seeds to be extraordinarily rich in the acid, which has strong biomaterials potential. Petroselinic acid accounted for more than 90% of the seed oils’ weight.

Thunbergia “is a nice ornamental vine and looks beautiful, but we could never grow it as a crop in Nebraska,” said Cahoon, director of the Center for Plant Science Innovation. “But we can find the genes that make the unusual fatty acid, and we can then engineer them into sorghum and oilseed crops to create higher-value oils.”

The IANR research was funded through a $3.8 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation. Cahoon and Thomas Clemente, Eugene W. Price Distinguished Professor of Biotechnology at Nebraska, are among the array of scientists nationwide contributing to research for the center.

Among the focuses of the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation is a “plants-as-factories” concept by which genetic engineering produces plant cells with bioproducts-related properties. Sorghum, along with sugarcane, is one of “the world’s highest biomass producers,” the center notes, “with demonstrated potential for accumulation of oil in vegetative biomass after successful metabolic engineering.”

The IANR research “has both a fundamental aspect to it of learning new things about fatty acids and enzymes,” Cahoon said. “The second part is trying to use that information to design new types of oils that might have increased-value industrial applications and biofuels.”

This research project featured a basic three-part division of labor. Cahoon, the principal investigator, made the initial discovery of Thunbergia oilseed’s extraordinarily high level of petroselinic acid. Lu Gan and Kiyoul Park, postdoctoral scientists in Cahoon’s lab in the Center for Plant Science Innovation, isolated the genes for enzymes the plant uses to make the fatty acid. Among the enzymes identified was an enzyme known as a fatty acid desaturase that introduces double bonds — unsaturation — in novel places in fatty acids. As a result, those fatty acids have new functional properties of vegetable oils.

Structural biologist Qun Liu and biochemist John Shanklin at Brookhaven National Laboratory carried out complex analyses of the enzyme’s three-dimensional structure. This information guided the design of “new” fatty acid desaturases that can create monounsaturated fatty acids not found in nature.

Nebraska’s Gan and Park then genetically engineered camelina oilseed to produce petroselinic acid-rich vegetable oils.


– Brad Schick, NE Extension Educator

How much feed or hay do you have for this fall or going into winter? It seems odd to be asking this question already, but uncertainty with inflation, drought, early weaning, and cow numbers should get us thinking about this now.

A dry spring and continued dry conditions have created a shortage of feed resources for many areas this year. Many cows have been sold, drylotted, and early weaning is starting to occur. Will you have enough feed this fall or winter with current cattle populations? If waiting for cornstalks for fall and winter feed, hay may have to be fed before stalks can be grazed.

Consider the “best case” and “worst case” scenarios. Count bales, measure silage, calculate remaining pasture, and get a real idea of how many calves and feeders you may have. Some may have too much feed laying around that is getting old. Selling may come at a premium.

Another action plan to consider is buying feeds that are cheaper now and storing them through the winter. We know how to do this with hay and silage, but what about distillers grains? Mixing with low quality feeds and packing in a bunker or in a bag, can significantly reduce the cost of protein and energy supplements during the winter months. This is especially helpful if cows are coming of off grass thin and need to improve condition before calving.

Planning is indispensable. Having a feed inventory and checking prices and availability now will go a long way to reducing the anxiety of what we will feed our cows this fall and winter.

 Assistance Available for Nebraska Farmers and Ranchers Impacted by Wildfire

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has funding available to assist agricultural producers whose land was impacted by recent wildfires. Landowners have until August 19 to apply.

Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funding is available to help producers plan and implement conservation practices on farms and ranches impacted by natural disasters. EQIP funding is available to assist in this wildfire recovery effort by planting cover crops on impacted cropland and to defer grazing on rangeland.

“Numerous fires have impacted farmers and ranchers across Nebraska leaving ground vulnerable to erosion,” said Rob Lawson, state conservationist for NRCS. “We can assist landowners with installing conservation practices to help prevent any further damage to their agricultural land and aid in the recovery of rangeland productivity and soil health.”

Lawson encourages landowners whose agricultural operations were impacted by wildfire to visit their local NRCS field office.

“NRCS can help with recovery efforts,” Lawson said. “Our staff works one-on-one with landowners to assess the damage and develop approaches that lead to an effective recovery of the land.”

The application signup for this wildfire assistance is happening now and will run through August 19, 2022. Applications will be assessed, and even though some lands may be eligible for assistance, it is not guaranteed that all acres will receive financial assistance due to limited funding.

Interested landowners and operators should contact their local NRCS office in the USDA Service Center for applications and more information.

Mark your calendars for NeFU Fall District Meetings

It is time for the Nebraska Farmers Union Fall District meetings.  The schedule is attached and pasted below. Set your calendars. All meetings start at 7:00 pm. The NeFU Board of Directors met last Monday.  They set the dates, and made the decision hold virtual meetings and utilize Zoom. You will receive your yellow post card reminding you of the date. It will have the phone call in number.

If you want to join via ZOOM, call or email their office and it will sbe end it to you.
Call: (402) 476-8815              Email:

They will report on the recent NFU Fly-In, the Nebraska Legislature, NFU’s “Fairness for Farmers” campaign and other national issues.

2022 Nebraska Farmers Union Fall District Meetings

Thursday, September 15, 2022              District 7
Monday, September 19, 2022                Districts 1 & 3
Tuesday, September 20, 2022                Districts 6
Wednesday, September 21, 2022           District 4
Thursday, September 22, 2022              District 5
Monday, September 26, 2022                District 2

All District Meetings will be held virtually via Zoom
All meetings will start at 7:00 p.m.
If you cannot make your own District meeting, join another.
Supper is definitely on your own, since you are staying home! 



Jake Espenmiller has joined the Conterra Ag Capital team as chief lending officer, signifying significant growth for the West Des Moines-based ag lender.

Espenmiller will lead the company in business development, working alongside Conterra’s executive team and relationship managers and shaping the company’s strategic direction as it continues to grow.

“Jake brings unparalleled expertise in ag lending and farmland equity investing. His proven track record in both makes Jake the perfect fit to lead our business development efforts across the US,” said Paul Erickson, Conterra President and CEO. “Jake’s insights will be key when working with Conterra senior management team to develop strategies supporting the changing agricultural landscape.”

The Iowa native has more than 24 years of experience in ag finance, most recently serving as the Midwest president of Oak River Farms. His experiences have taken him to several of the nation’s core ag regions and industries, offering additional perspective to Conterra’s ag lending team.

“As a private lender with deep ag roots and experience, Conterra is uniquely positioned to be a key capital partner for today’s farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses,” says Espenmiller. “I think of Conterra as a ‘Goldilocks’ firm — just the right size to be a significant player, while remaining nimble and flexible.”

The Simpson College and Drake University graduate says Conterra’s culture, work ethic and passion for agriculture aligned with his own. Currently residing in Overland Park, Kansas, Espenmiller and his wife are partners in a family row-crop operation in Northwest Iowa.

“I plan to build upon the success of Conterra’s founders by providing great service to customers, great returns for our investors and a great culture for our employees.”

Weekly Ethanol Production for 8/3/2022

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending July 29, ethanol production increased 2.2% to 1.043 million b/d, equivalent to 43.81 million gallons daily. Production was 3.0% more than the same week last year and 2.3% above the five-year average for the week. The four-week average ethanol production volume was steady at 1.026 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 15.73 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks ticked up 0.3% to 23.4 million barrels. Stocks were 3.3% higher than a year ago and 6.0% above the five-year average. Inventories rose across all regions except the Gulf Coast (PADD 3) and West Coast (PADD 5).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, slumped 7.6% to 8.54 million b/d (130.93 bg annualized). Demand was 12.6% less than a year ago and 9.5% below the five-year average.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol rose 1.5% to 908,000 b/d, equivalent to 13.92 bg annualized and the highest level in five weeks. Still, net inputs were 2.6% less than a year ago and 1.3% below the five-year average.

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

Researchers Enlist Sturdy Yeast to Help Make Cost-Effective Ethanol

Yeasts play a key role in converting ("fermenting") sugars from plants into ethanol fuel. But not all yeasts are created equal. Some are better fermenters than others because they can tolerate the harsh conditions of the bioreactors in which they're used.

Clavispora NRRL Y-50464 is just such a yeast.

A team of Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at the agency's National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois, used a standard microbiology procedure called "adaptive laboratory evolution" to generate the hardy yeast strain, which in tests outperformed the industry standard, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Cornstarch has long been a leading source of simple sugars that can be fermented into ethanol fuel as a cleaner-burning alternative to gasoline. However, there are many competing uses for the versatile commodity, prompting researchers and fuel makers to focus on alternative sources—perennial grasses, forestry byproducts and crop residues like rice straw and corn stover, among them.

To get to these sugars, the "brick and mortar" of plant cells—cellulose and lignin (a.k.a., lignocellulose)—must first be broken down using enzymes or diluted acids. However, this produces furfural and other chemical byproducts that are harmful to the yeasts, hobbling their ability to ferment sugars released from lignocellulose.

Fortunately, Clavispora NRRL Y-50464 is no ordinary yeast.

The strain is the toughest of the tough selected by the researchers from a natural population of Clavispora yeasts originally found growing on sweet sorghum. This toughness includes heat tolerance, fast growth and an ability to detoxify harmful byproducts like furfural while producing ethanol. The yeast strain also makes its own beta-glucosidase, an enzyme which catalyzes the breakdown of simple sugars like glucose from lignocellulose so they can be fermented into ethanol. This eliminates the need to add beta-glucosidase "and lowers the enzyme cost of cellulosic ethanol production," explained Z. Lewis Liu, a molecular biologist (retired), formerly with the ARS center's Bioenergy Research Unit in Peoria.

That's kind of a big deal—so much so that ARS patented the yeast strain for use in lignocellulose-based ethanol production systems, whose enzyme costs are typically 10 times those of starch-based ones.

Laboratory trials conducted by Liu, ARS chemical engineer Bruce Dien and their collaborators bare out the yeast strain's super-star status as a fermenter of sugars from lignocellulose-rich sources like rice straw and corn stover (which refers to the corn plant's unharvested stalk, leaves, husks and cob).

In flask, beaker and bioreactor trials using a two-in-one step called "simultaneous saccharification and fermentation," Clavispora NRRL Y-50464 outperformed genetically engineered Saccharomyces yeast strains.

Highlights of results recently published in the International Journal of Microbiology include:
    an ethanol concentration (or, "titer") of 47 grams per liter (g/L) of purified cellulose within 72 hours—over the minimum required standard of 40 g/L for industrial use. What's more, Clavispora NRRL Y-50464 supplied its own beta-glucosidase, so none had to be added.
    an ethanol titer of 32 g/L of pre-treated corn stover and 25 g/L of rice straw within 48 and 36 hours, respectively. That's also a plus, given this represents the shortest time needed to complete cellulosic ethanol production from agricultural residues (leftover).
    better resistance to acetic acid (used in pre-treatments to liberate sugars from lignocellulose) and tolerance to temperatures of up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius).

Liu said that although the Clavispora yeast doesn't ferment all types of simple sugars available from lignocellulose sources, it still has the potential to reduce the cost of producing ethanol. Additionally, the genetic makeup behind the yeast's unique combination of traits could yield important clues to improving the use of other microbial strains in lignocellulose-based ethanol production systems. The key, Liu added, will be making critical process engineering improvements to the bioreactors now being used, including their ability to stir the cellulosic mix with high loads of fermentable solids.

“Demand Grows: How Biodiesel Can Fuel Food Sustainability” Free Webinar Aug. 30

The food industry is under increasing pressure to meet ambitious global sustainability goals. Energy is an important part of the equation, especially the use of fuel throughout the supply chain. Demand continues to grow for biodiesel, a renewable alternative that more companies and municipalities are leveraging to lower their carbon footprint.  

Biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement for use in engines and equipment that’s widely available, cost-effective and can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 74% (Clean Fuels Alliance America).  

Produced from a broad range of renewable resources, most often from U.S. grown soybeans, biodiesel is the first and only EPA-designated advanced biofuel in commercial-scale production across the country and can be used in diesel engines without modification. However, biodiesel is often overlooked as an avenue to achieve those goals. 

In addition, the American Lung Association promotes the use of biodiesel through it’s Clean Air Choice™ program as transportation plays an important role in improving air quality and lung health.  

The Center for Food Integrity (CFI), with support from the United Soybean Board (USB), is hosting a free webinar, Tues. Aug. 30, from 1 to 1:45 p.m. CT, to detail how biodiesel can fuel food company sustainability efforts.   

Among the topics: Biodiesel 101, benefits to the environment and our health, busting biodiesel myths, a case study of how the sixth largest U.S. bus company has incorporated biodiesel into its fleets and insights into sustainably grown soy, an important feedstock for biodiesel.  

Hosted by CFI’s Melanie Fitzpatrick, the webinar guest lineup includes:   
- Veronica Bradley / Clean Fuels Alliance America, Director of Environmental Science 
- John Benish, Jr. / Cook-Illinois Corporation, President and CEO of Cook-Illinois Corporation bus company  
- Nancy Kavazanjian, Wisconsin Soybean Farmer and USB Director 
- Ed Lammers, Nebraska Soybean Farmer and USB Director 

Register at this link to hear their unique perspectives and get your questions answered as food and farming work together toward a more sustainable future.  

College Aggies Online developing the next generation of agriculture advocates

The Animal Agriculture Alliance’s annual College Aggies Online (CAO) scholarship competition is returning this year on September 12. Now in its 14th year, the program is open to undergraduate, graduate students, collegiate clubs and classes who will learn how to engage about food and agriculture online and in their communities over the course of the nine-week program. Last year students were awarded more than $20,000 in scholarships.

CAO helps participants become confident and effective communicators for agriculture. The continued success of the program would not have been possible without the support of platinum sponsor Dairy Management Inc. (DMI). “It’s crucial to the dairy industry and our farmers that we help foster and develop the next generation’s communications skills so they can become effective ‘ag-vocates,’” said Don Schindler, senior vice president of digital innovations. “College Aggies Online is an effective tool to help students understand how to successfully communicate online with their peers who are disconnected from the farm. The dairy checkoff is proud to support this worthy program."

The program consists of an individual and club division. The individual competition is a completely virtual experience with students receiving guidance from industry experts and farmer mentors on how to write blog posts, create viral social media posts, design eye-catching infographics and so much more. During the first week, students will be coached by Jessica Peters, Pennsylvania dairy farmer and social media influencer, on how to engage about dairy online. They will also be encouraged to complete a video challenge using tips and tricks from Emily Shaw, known online as Dairy Girl Fitness.

The club competition provides both in-person and virtual engagement opportunities for collegiate clubs and classes to connect with peers about agriculture. The “Undeniably Dairy” challenge sponsored by DMI is one of several challenges available for participating groups to choose from to earn points toward scholarship awards. In the “Undeniably Dairy” challenge, groups are encouraged to partner with local dairy farmers and checkoffs to share the nutritional benefits of dairy and how its produced with students on campus who may not be familiar with agriculture. Additional examples of club challenges include a farm tour, hosting an "Ask a Farmer" panel, bringing agriculture to a local K-12 class, and collaborating with the campus dining community.

Students interested in becoming confident and effective communicators for agriculture are invited to sign up at

The CAO program would not be possible without the generous support of our 2022 sponsors. In addition to Dairy Management Inc., this year’s sponsors include: National Pork Industry Foundation, Bayer, Institute for Feed Education and Research, Domino’s Pizza Inc., Ohio Poultry Association, Culvers Franchising System, National Chicken Council and Pennsylvania Beef Council.

Zoetis Receives Expanded Labels for Beef Implant Products

Zoetis announced today it has received expanded label approval from the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) on three beef implant products. Synovex Choice® is the foundation of new reimplant labels that are now available to feedlot operations, which also include Synovex Plus® and Synovex® One Feedlot.

“This approval provides beef producers with enhanced flexibility to more broadly use these technologies to help them meet their production and profitability goals,” said John Hallberg, DVM, PhD, U.S. director of regulatory affairs, Zoetis. “The performance benefits of Synovex Choice, Synovex Plus and Synovex One Feedlot have long been proven and this is the logical next step for the industry.”

These three products are approved for reimplanting programs in both steers and heifers fed in confinement for slaughter. The three reimplantation labels include:
    Synovex Choice followed by Synovex Choice, 60 to 120 days later
    Synovex Choice followed by Synovex Plus, 60 to 120 days later
    Synovex Choice followed by Synovex One Feedlot, 60 to 120 days later

Effective immediately, existing packages of Synovex Choice, Synovex Plus and Synovex One Feedlot can be used in reimplanting programs at feedlots. Animal health product suppliers and cattle producers will begin seeing updated labels with the approved reimplantation language by the end of 2022.

“The Synovex brand has contributed more than 66 years of growth productivity and innovation to the U.S. beef cattle industry,” said Paul Parker, senior marketing manager, Zoetis. “We recognized the need and committed our resources to seek approval for these reimplant labels. These new label indications provide cattle feeders with proven options to help optimize performance in a profitable and sustainable manner.”

For more information on how the expanded labels will fit your operation, please visit with your Zoetis sales representative. You also can visit to learn more.

Refer to individual labels for complete directions for use, precautions, and warnings. Reimplant only if and as directed in labeling.

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