Friday, September 23, 2022

Thursday September 22 Ag News

 Husker Harvest Days 2022 Captured the Essence of Agriculture — and Much More

Husker Harvest Days 2022 is over, but for many producers, the new ideas, technology and connections will extend far beyond the show gates.

“I think what makes this show special is the value every attendee takes home with them. Not only do visitors leave Husker Harvest Days with fresh ideas and contacts for their operations, but they also get to enjoy an experience in pure agriculture. Husker Harvest Days is probably the only farm show in America where you get access to global innovations in a community atmosphere,” said Don Tourte, senior vice president of sales and events with Farm Progress.

Husker Harvest Days is renowned for having some of the most expansive field demonstrations, and this year did not disappoint. Show visitors got up close and personal with the latest and greatest equipment that the industry has to offer through various corn harvest, tillage and haying demonstrations.

Cattle ranchers gained priceless insights through various cattle handling demos, seminars and equipment displays. Side-by-side comparisons of the latest cattle technology helped keep producers informed and will empower them to navigate crucial purchasing decisions as they prepare for their operation’s future.

The world’s largest totally irrigated working farm show wouldn’t be complete without irrigation at the forefront. Leading irrigation companies put their best foot forward this year with insightful new equipment, accessories and innovative irrigation solutions for every farm and ranch.

With over 70 new exhibitors at this year’s show, there was no shortage of fresh faces and companies to interact with, but familiar favorites still lined the streets and fields at Husker Harvest Days. Autonomy and sprayer drone demonstrations, as well as horse gentling and livestock dog exhibitions, drew in the crowds at every corner.

“From innovation in crops and irrigation to the latest expertise in cattle handling, Husker Harvest Days had something to offer every producer,” said Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress Show director. “I think the big takeaway here is that this show is a huge opportunity for producers and exhibitors. This year was a massive success, and we’re already thinking about how we’ll top it next year.”

Husker Harvest Days 2023 in Grand Island, Neb., is set for Sept.12-14. For more information or to keep up to date for next year’s event, visit

Krehbiel selected as ag and natural resources dean at Texas Tech University

Clinton Krehbiel, who has led the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Animal Science since 2017, has been selected as the dean of the Davis College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Texas Tech University.

Krehbiel will continue in his role as Marvel L. Baker Head and Professor of the UNL Department of Animal Science until the end of the 2022 semester before beginning his new appointment in January. Mike Boehm, NU vice president and vice chancellor of UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will work closely with IANR leadership and department faculty on a transition plan.

Under Krehbiel’s leadership, the department has adopted a strategic framework, grown undergraduate enrollment between 2017 and 2020, hired talented new faculty members, increased research funding and expenditures, and worked closely with industry and other partners across Nebraska. Krehbiel was also instrumental in the formation of Nebraska’s Beef Innovation hub, as well as the expansion of the Feedlot Innovation Center at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead.

“During his nearly six years at Nebraska, Dr. Krehbiel has been sharply focused on the success of Animal Science faculty, staff and students, and he has shaped the department in important ways during his tenure,” Boehm said. “I’m grateful for his service and wish him well in his next endeavor.”

Krehbiel said he has been honored to lead the department.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to lead UNL’s Department of Animal Science and to serve the amazing faculty, staff and students here,” Krehbiel said. “I look forward to watching the continued momentum of this department and incredible group of scientists, staff, students, and stakeholders.”

Krehbiel was raised on a diversified farm near McPherson, Kansas.  He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Kansas State University and a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Clint was a postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center near Clay Center. He also served on the faculty at New Mexico State University and Oklahoma State University prior to joining UNL.


In summer 2021, a group of agricultural education teachers decided to see how well the farm management concepts they were teaching in their classes translated to real life.

The instructors, who all teach at school districts in Educational Service Unit 16, divided into two teams and signed up to participate in the annual Testing Ag Performance Solutions program — TAPS for short — at the West Central Research, Extension and Education Center in North Platte.

The TAPS program, which started in 2016, brings together teams of farmers, agronomists, students, state agency employees, Nebraska Extension professionals and others who direct the planting and management of corn or sorghum on a plot at the research center.

Throughout the competition, the decisions that participants make affect the yield, price and ultimately the profitability of their plot. Participants decide what kind of hybrid to select and crop insurance to purchase. They make decisions about planting population, their marketing strategy and the timing and quantity of irrigation and fertilizer. They get some help from technologies, such as sensors that measure the amount of water in the soil and cameras that measure the amount of nitrogen in crop leaves. In the end, teams are ranked on who is the most profitable, with teams who use water and nitrogen most efficiently being recognized.

Many of the teachers were intimidated by the number and technicality of the decisions they needed to make, but that’s part of the beauty of the TAPS program, said Chuck Burr, extension education at the West Central Research, Extension and Education Center.

“Working with the teachers in making the day-to-day decisions was what we were hoping for by inviting them to be part of the competition,” Burr said.

The teachers, in turn, applied the same logic and principles they try to impart to their students, and they surprised themselves with the result.

“We fared pretty well for not knowing much,” said Evey Choat, agricultural education instructor at McPherson County Schools.

The teachers’ main takeaway from the program, though, was how beneficial it could be to their students.

“It’s one thing to teach students ‘plants need these nutrients,’ but when students make decisions about how much nitrogen to apply,” it gets real, said Seth Burge, who teaches at Perkins County.

So this summer, the teachers returned to West Central, not to participate in the TAPS program, but to build a curriculum for high school ag-ed classes around it in collaboration with center faculty and staff.

It wasn’t an easy process, said ESU 16 Administrator Deb Paulman. Agriculture is complex, and so are the precision agricultural tools that participants in the TAPS program use to aid in decision making. The teachers wanted to empower students to make decisions without overwhelming them with information. At the same time, the complexity is part of the magic of TAPS — and of agriculture in general, she said.

“The way that kids learn to make decisions is by making decisions,” Paulman said. “This is like a taste of the real world. It’s a real experiment.”

After their own experience in the program and conversations with farmers, Husker researchers and other TAPS participants, the teachers worked to develop curriculum modules for their students around two of the six major decisions that TAPS participants make. The first two modules — one on hybrid seed selection and seeding rate and another on nitrogen application — will be piloted in several Nebraska high schools during the 2022-23 academic year. The teachers will then evaluate which aspects of the curriculum worked well and which ones could be improved and make adjustments accordingly, she said. Several school districts in other parts of the state have already expressed interest in adopting the program after the pilot year.

It’s been exciting to see so many groups work together to adapt the TAPS program for high school, said Tammy Mittelstet, who coordinates educational pathways and statewide educational partnerships for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Nebraska. In particular, she said, it has been gratifying to see so many different groups — farmers, ESUs, Husker faculty and staff, teachers and school administrators, among others — work together to make a program they believe in available to high school students. In Nebraska, where one in four jobs is related to agriculture, it is very likely that the skills they learn through the TAPS curriculum will be skills they use later in their careers.

“The most important thing is that we all recognize we are here for the same reason,” she said. “We all want a successful economy, we all want successful students and we all want a successful workforce.”

Brent Plugge honored with Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of County Agriculture Agents

Brent Plugge received the Distinguished Service Award (DSA) from the National Association of County Agriculture Agents during the 2022 Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference. The conference was held in West Palm Beach, Florida on July 20. He was one of several honorees who represent the top two percent of the membership selected by their peers.   

Plugge began his career in extension in Kansas in 1989. He moved to Nebraska Extension in 1994 and has since served for 27 years. Plugge’s education programs focus on beef production systems.  His most significant accomplishments have been establishing the Nebraska Ranch Practicum (NRP) and developing the Husker Beef Lab (HBL). NRP is a comprehensive course of study offered in the Nebraska Sandhills that provides hands-on instruction in ranch management. Since its inception, over 700 participants have graduated from the program. HBL is a mobile laboratory that provides a platform for instructors to teach science, focusing on ruminant animal nutrition. The program was established in 2011 and has reached over 20,000 students.   

Plugge has also served on several state and regional committees and has mentored many new extension educators. He is currently a faculty advisory for the UNL Innovative Beef Systems Extension Team and serves as the lead educator for the Nebraska Extension Office in Buffalo County.

NACAA is a nation-wide professional extension organization geared toward extension educators/agents and other professionals who work in agriculture, horticulture, forestry and natural resources, 4-H youth development, community development and related disciplines. The DSA is conferred on members who have worked in extension for at least ten years, are held in high esteem by their fellow workers and have developed and put into effect an outstanding extension program, which includes carrying to completion constructive and outstanding work.  

Surveys Show Historic Increases in Farmland Values and Cash Rents

The annual land value survey and cash rent surveys from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service confirm what many in Iowa’s agriculture industry already expected: land values and cash rents are up significantly.

According to an article in the September edition of the Ag Decision Maker newsletter, a publication of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Iowa cropland values rose 19.7% on average over the past year, from $7,810 per acre to $9,350 per acre. Pastureland is up 9.3%, now averaging $3,300 per acre.

As for cash rents, the survey shows an increase of 9.9% for non-irrigated cropland, for an average of $256 per acre in 2022. Cash rent for an acre of Iowa pastureland is up to $59.50 per acre on average, an increase of 2.6% and a new record high level.

The article is authored by Lee Schulz, associate professor in economics and livestock economist at Iowa State University. He said it’s important to keep in mind these numbers are statewide averages from USDA, and that county and individual parcel results could be higher or lower, depending on many factors.

Schulz said he would not be surprised to see further increases to pastureland, because historically, pasture values tend to follow cattle and corn prices.

As a state average, cropland values are the highest ever, and cash rents are second only to 2014, when they reached $260 per acre.

The current increases come at a very different time in the economy, however.

“The 2022 general economy is more anemic,” according to Schulz. “Inflation is around 8.5%, which could buoy land values. Potential for a steeper economic slowdown could dampen interest in buying land, and rising interest rates and any slippage in net farm income could erode farmers’ ability to service land debt.”

While the future is difficult to predict, Schulz said if inflation remains high and interest rates continue to climb, the impact will eventually be felt.

“Agriculture does not operate in a vacuum,” he said. “The Federal Reserve is actively raising interest rates and eventually that has a negative correlation with land values and farmers’ ability to borrow.”

For farmers and landowners having negotiations over land sales and rent, Schulz said the USDA surveys are useful, but that decisions should include other surveys and factors, as well, such as the annual Iowa State University Land Value Survey, released at the end of each year, and the Iowa State University Cash Rent Survey, released each May.

“The USDA survey findings help provide one data point for conversations, but the agricultural community should continue to weigh other sources of information and factors when making decisions about cash rents and sales,” said Schulz.


Farmers and grain buyers across the Midwest and beyond will now have another option when it comes to marketing their grain thanks to a new partnership between Landus and Consus. This partnership, branded as Consus Direct Powered by Landus, combines the power of education, technology, and cash grain market expertise to expand market access and provide greater insight without the overhead of traditional brick-and-mortar locations.

Consus provides consultation to farmers, commercial businesses, and industry groups throughout the Midwest to inform and educate on grain market movement, connecting buyers and sellers for mutual benefit. Landus is the 7th largest grain company in North America per grain storage capacity. The company serves more than 7,000 farmer-owners in Iowa and Minnesota, and recently announced a new office opened in May 2022 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Across North America, demand for Midwest crops is soaring and Landus is the only agribusiness in Iowa with connections to all seven Class 1 railways. The Consus Direct Powered by Landus partnership further strengthens Landus farmer-owners' position in the supply chain, allowing access to new markets, expanding grain volume, and creating geographic diversity opportunities for grain buyers.

“Landus believes in the power of partnership, and we are thrilled to expand our work with the Consus team and introduce Landus’ data-driven and farmer-focused grain solutions to farmers throughout the Midwest,” said Matt Carstens, president and chief executive officer, Landus. “Through this optimized collaboration with Consus we will expand Landus access beyond the borders of Iowa while still returning value back to Iowa farmers.”

Angie Setzer, co-founder and partner at Consus, is well-known in the grain industry as the @GoddessOfGrain and authors Landus’ daily market commentary, available on the Landus website and Twitter. She is a frequent contributor to widely viewed agricultural broadcasts and has built her consulting business by focusing on providing farmers with unbiased and independent counsel on grain markets, asset management and more.

“We are excited about this new partnership with Landus, allowing us to provide value to the producer through information and service,” said Setzer. “Our desire has always been to provide freedom and flexibility to the farmer and those working for farmers and Consus Direct Powered by Landus will make that possible.”

SHIC Sets Focus on Wean-to-Harvest Biosecurity

This summer, the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) Board of Directors voted to proceed with a collaborative effort to focus on wean-to-harvest biosecurity. SHIC, along with the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research, an organization advancing actionable science to develop tools, technologies, and information benefiting farmers, consumers and the environment, and Pork Checkoff, will fund a Wean-to-Harvest Biosecurity Program to be implemented over the next two years.

“Wean-to-harvest biosecurity is a complex issue for our industry that has been developing for many years,” remarked SHIC Associate Director Dr. Megan Niederwerder. “This research program will look for cost-effective, innovative solutions to a significant biosecurity gap in US swine production.”

SHIC will contribute $1 million of reallocated funds from its current budget to the Wean-to-Harvest Biosecurity Program and FFAR will provide $1.15 million towards the effort. “FFAR envisions a world in which every person has access to affordable, nutritious food grown on thriving farms,” said Dr. Saharah Moon Chapotin, FFAR’s Executive Director. “Our partnership with SHIC and Pork Checkoff to support the bold research needed to develop solutions to safeguard the health of US swine will bring us closer to achieving that vision.”

The Pork Checkoff is contributing $150,000 as well. By leveraging budget allocation with the matching funds from FFAR and the Checkoff, SHIC increases capacity and output for its mission to safeguard the health of the US swine herd.

“SHIC is focused on preventing and responding to emerging diseases,” explained SHIC Executive Director Dr. Paul Sundberg. “Leading the industry in being proactive to controlling the next emerging disease instead of reacting after it gets here fulfills SHIC’s mission of protecting and enhancing US swine herd health.”

SHIC-funded Swine Disease Monitoring Report aggregate data shows breeding herd breaks of PRRS and PED tend to follow breaks in wean-to-harvest sites. A recently published paper on a SHIC-funded project detailed how PRRS and PED negative pigs placed on wean-to-finish sites become infected after placement. SHIC’s Rapid Response Team investigated an Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae outbreak in the Midwest and exposed deficiencies of wean-to-harvest biosecurity in the area that contributed to the disease spread.

“The intent is to ensure solutions are implementable and provide significant value to producers,” stated Dr. Niederwerder. “Research priorities will be developed in three areas – bioexclusion for preventing disease introduction on the farm, biocontainment for preventing disease spread from the farm to reduce risk to neighbors, and transportation biosecurity for preventing disease movement from markets and concentration points back to the farm. We are seeking novel tools across all three areas for a comprehensive biosecurity approach.”

As part of the Wean-to-Harvest Biosecurity Program, SHIC established two task forces to develop specific, researchable priorities for the topic areas of transport biosecurity and site bioexclusion and biocontainment. With members from across the pork industry and academia, the Wean-to-Harvest Biosecurity Site Task Force and Wean-to-Harvest Biosecurity Transport Task Force have each met virtually to discuss priorities and ensure coordination across the pork industry, so there is no overlap in investigations and research providing the greatest return on investment. The priorities and call for proposals’ instructions will be posted to the SHIC website’s Wean-to-Harvest Biosecurity Program page as soon as they are completed. SHIC will facilitate proposal review and contract processes.

SHIC acknowledges the work will not be simple and could take some time to complete. Requests for proposals for related research will be issued as soon as possible so projects can start expediently. Due to anticipated seasonal effects and differences in costs and abilities to implement biosecurity, some projects will probably have to cross seasons, taking at least a year. However, SHIC says significant preliminary results will be shared immediately on the SHIC website’s Wean-to-Harvest Biosecurity Program page as well as via other communications.

FFAR builds public-private partnerships to fund bold research addressing big food and agriculture challenges. FFAR was established in the 2014 Farm Bill to increase public agriculture research investments, fill knowledge gaps and complement USDA’s research agenda. FFAR’s model matches federal funding from Congress with private funding, delivering a powerful return on taxpayer investment. Through collaboration and partnerships, FFAR advances actionable science benefiting farmers, consumers and the environment.

Record High Commercial Red Meat and Beef Production in August

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.83 billion pounds in August, up 5 percent from the 4.59 billion pounds produced in August 2021.

Beef production, at 2.51 billion pounds, was 6 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 3.08 million head, up 7 percent from August 2021. The average live weight was down 6 pounds from the previous year, at 1,348 pounds.

Veal production totaled 4.7 million pounds, 9 percent above August a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 33,900 head, down 2 percent from August 2021. The average live weight was up 28 pounds from last year, at 242 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.30 billion pounds, up 4 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 11.0 million head, up 3 percent from August 2021. The average live weight was up 2 pounds from the previous year, at 282 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 11.7 million pounds, was up 13 percent from August 2021. Sheep slaughter totaled 182,000 head, 2 percent above last year. The average live weight was 127 pounds, up 11 pounds from August a year ago.

Red Meat Production, by State

                         (million lbs  -  % Aug '21)

Nebraska .......:     709.5            107       
Iowa ..............:     715.5            100       
Kansas ...........:     551.0            104       

January to August 2022 commercial red meat production was 36.8 billion pounds, down slightly from 2021. Accumulated beef production was up 2 percent from last year, veal was up 5 percent, pork was down 2 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 5 percent.

USDA Cold Storage August 2022 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on August 31, 2022 were up 1 percent from the previous month and up 20 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 1 percent from the previous month and up 24 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 1 percent from the previous month and up 17 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were down 24 percent from last month but up 85 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on August 31, 2022 were up 2 percent from the previous month and up 11 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 2 percent from the previous month and up 17 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 1 percent from last month and up 1 percent from August 31, 2021.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on August 31, 2022 were down 3 percent from the previous month but up 4 percent from August 31, 2021. Butter stocks were down 10 percent from last month and down 22 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks on August 31, 2022 were up 10 percent from last month and up 2 percent from a year ago. Total frozen vegetable stocks were up 19 percent from last month but down slightly from a year ago.

Voters Overwhelmingly Support Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL) for Beef

A new poll of registered voters, conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) shows an overwhelming majority of voters—including 86% of Democrats, 83% of Independents, and 90% of Republicans—support the American Beef Labeling Act (S.2716 and H.R.7291) that reinstates mandatory country of origin labeling (MCOOL) for beef.

Additionally, an overwhelming majority of voters (77%) believe it is important that the beef they purchase was born, raised and harvested in the United States and an overwhelming majority of voters (74%) say they would be more likely to vote for a U.S. Senate or U.S. House candidate who supports the American Beef Labeling Act.

The poll further reveals that registered voters from all regions within the U.S. overwhelmingly support the American Beef Labeling Act – 82% of Northeast voters, 90% of Midwest voters, 87% of voters in the South, and 84% of voters in the West.  Read the key findings here.

The American Beef Labeling Act (S.2716) is a bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. Senate in 2021 by Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Jon Tester (D-MT), Mike Rounds (R-SD), and Cory Booker (D-NJ). Despite attracting additional bipartisan cosponsors – Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), the bill has languished without action in the U.S. Senate agriculture committee.

In March 2022, a bipartisan companion bill was introduced in the U.S. House (H.R.7291) by Reps. Lance Gooden (R-TX) and Ro Khanna (D-CA). Rep. H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) has since cosponsored the House measure.

“Too many members of Congress talk favorably about reinstating mandatory country of origin labeling for beef, but they have not yet joined the legislation as cosponsors,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. “Our new poll makes it clear that an overwhelming number of American voters want Congress to enact MCOOL for beef, and they demonstrated this with their specific support for the American Beef Labeling Act.

“We hope lawmakers will carefully review this poll and quickly join this legislation as cosponsors to ensure its swift enactment.”

According to Bullard, though many consumers and cattle producers have been contacting their congressional members urging support of the American Beef Labeling Act, in light of these powerful poll results, R-CALF USA is now urging them to go to to use the online form to email more requests for swift congressional action. Constituents can also call the Capital Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to ask for their congressional members by name.      

Key Findings:
• Voters want the beef they purchase to be American-made. Three quarters ofrespondents (77%) say it is important the beef they purchase was born, raised, and harvested in the United States.

• Concern over current food safety regulations for beef is high among U.S. voters. Nine in ten respondents (90%) say the+y find it concerning that foreign importers of beef can legally put a ‘Product of U.S.A.’ sticker on a package containing beef born, raised, and harvested outside the United States.

• Support for the American Beef Labeling Act is strong. Eighty-six percent of voters show support for the legislation.

• When thinking about the upcoming elections, there is bipartisan support for the American Beef Labeling Act. Nearly three-quarters of Democrats (72%) and four in five Republicans (79%) say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports the American Beef Labeling Act.

NCBA Urges Senate to Confirm Key USDA Nominees

Today, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) urged the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry to confirm key nominees for Under Secretary for Food Safety and Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“Cattle producers need strong, stable leadership in top positions at USDA and we urge the Senate to move quickly on confirming these highly qualified nominees,” said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane.
For the position of Under Secretary for Food Safety, the President nominated Dr. Jose Emilio Esteban who currently serves in USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
“NCBA has worked closely with Dr. Jose Emilio Esteban in his role as Chief Scientist of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and as Chair of the Codex Alimentarius Commission Committee on Food Hygiene,” said NCBA Director of Animal Health and Food Safety Policy Chase DeCoite. “Dr. Esteban’s decades of experience in food safety, epidemiology, and public health make him an extremely qualified candidate for USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety and NCBA enthusiastically supports his nomination.”
For the position of Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, the President nominated Ms. Alexis Taylor who currently serves as Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
“NCBA has worked closely with Alexis Taylor in her previous roles at USDA and on Capitol Hill. She is a proven advocate for farmers and ranchers,” said NCBA Executive Director of Government Affairs Kent Bacus. “NCBA urges the Senate to swiftly confirm Alexis Taylor as USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs so she can get to work advocating for expanded trade opportunities for America’s cattle producers.”
The Senate Agriculture Committee will need to vote in favor of these nominees before the full Senate casts the final confirmation vote. NCBA has previously submitted letters of support for both nominees.

NCGA Expresses Support for Alexis Taylor Nomination After Ag Senate Hearing

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) praised the credentials of Alexis Taylor today and encouraged the Senate to act quickly to confirm her as undersecretary for trade and U.S. agricultural affairs at USDA.

NCGA’s comments came after Taylor testified before the Senate Agriculture Committee as it considers her nomination.

“Alexis is someone with a deep understanding of agriculture, and she is widely respected by policymakers on both sides of the aisle,” said Brooke S. Appleton, vice president of public policy at the National Corn Growers Association. “We are very excited by the prospect of having someone of Alexis’s caliber serving in this role.”
During her testimony, the nominee told the committee that “ag is not just what I do, but who I am.”

Taylor, who currently serves as director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, has served as a policy expert on ag issues for several members of Congress and managed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services. An Iraq veteran, Taylor grew up in Iowa on her family’s 160-year-old farm.
Once approved by the committee, Taylor’s nomination will move to the Senate floor for a vote. NCGA encourages swift approval of her nomination.

Update on USDA’s Cattle Contracts Library Pilot Program

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to create a Cattle Contracts Library Pilot Program (library) to increase market transparency for cattle producers. AMS hosted a listening session in April 2022 to begin the process of gathering feedback from stakeholders. Feedback gleaned from this meeting and over the subsequent months has informed the development of the pilot library, including comments related to content, frequency of reporting, and usability. From this process, AMS developed a working library model which was primarily populated with inactive contracts. The model was presented to a wide range of stakeholders and end users, with a focus on content and usage.

 In order to populate the pilot with information from active contracts, AMS is currently drafting a rule which will result in publication of a regulation to ensure complete reporting of contractual information and volumes purchased against the contracts using the criteria established under the Livestock Mandatory Reporting statute (packers who slaughter 125,000 head of cattle annually). AMS will communicate via a public announcement once that rule is available. All information related to the library pilot is posted on the AMS Cattle Contract Library webpage

NCBA Statement on Cattle Contracts Library Pilot Program Notice to Trade

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) released the following statement in response to a Notice to Trade published today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) related to the Cattle Contracts Library (CCL) pilot program:

“The Cattle Contracts Library is designed to be a tool for cattle producers, making information accessible which may in turn allow them to capture unrealized value for their livestock,” said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane. “We are pleased to see the pilot program progressing and note the important decision to use the Livestock Mandatory Reporting statutes as a basis for any subsequent rulemakings. We look forward to continuing to work with staff at AMS to ensure the success of this tool as well as the protection of our members’ proprietary business information.”

Court Ruling Reinstates Modernized Endangered Species Rules

Modernized Endangered Species Act regulations will be reinstated after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that a district court improperly vacated 2019 revisions. The appeals court determined a district court erred by reversing the regulations without determining whether they were actually unlawful.

“We appreciate today’s ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “The revisions to the Endangered Species Act protected at risk animals while ensuring farmers could continue feeding America’s families. This ruling doesn’t bring an end to the debate about modernizing the ESA, but it sends an important message to the 9th Circuit lower courts that their job is to rule based on the law. They can no longer vacate a rule unless they determine it is unlawful.”

This is the second appellate ruling to favor AFBF in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the past month. In August, the Court overturned a lower court’s ruling that prohibited AFBF from defending the delisting of the gray wolf.

Mercaris Releases Its Preliminary Organic Acreage Statistics for 2022

Mercaris is pleased to announce updates to its acreage data for non-GMO and organic crops. The new data, which was released earlier this month, builds upon data made available via Mercaris’ groundbreaking Acreage Analyzer tool.

According to Mercaris’ September 2022 organic acreage estimates, USDA-certified organic land is expected to reach nearly 8.7 million acres across the U.S. during 2022. Those 8.7 million acres comprise more than 19,700 farms.

“Following a decline in certified organic pasture and rangeland, area dedicated to organic field crop production is expected to account for the largest share of total certified organic land,” says Vice President of Economics with Mercaris Ryan Koory. “Land utilized for organic field crop production is expected to increase 3 percent from 2021 totaling nearly 3.8 million harvested acres through 2022.”

Acreage gains are not expected for all organic field crops, with organic wheat and corn harvested acres expected to decline by 1 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

“The decline we expect in organic wheat and corn harvested acres is attributed to a combination of challenging growing conditions and elevated organic soybean prices,” says Koory. “However, harvested acres of organic oilseeds are expected to increase by 16 percent year-over-year with organic soybean harvested acres alone expected to increase by an impressive 18 percent year-over-year.”

While certified organic acreage is expected to experience another year of expansion, land planted with non-GMO corn and soybean seeds is estimated to have fallen by more than 900,000 acres over 2022. In Mercaris’ September acreage update, U.S. non-GMO corn and soybeans planting declined 8 percent year-over-year to less than 10.7 million acres through 2022, according to USDA data. This decline follows reduction in both non-GMO corn and soybean acres as well as a general increase in the use of GMO seeds across the country.

The information above is summarized from the September 2022 Acreage Analyzer data update.

Biofuels Conference, Meeting Allows USGC To Highlight Ethanol’s Role

Last week, Isabelle Ausdal, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) manager of global ethanol policy and economics, traveled to Sweden to attend the International Energy Agency (IEA) Bioenergy Task 39 “Biofuels to Decarbonize Transport” fourth business meeting and Advanced Biofuels Conference hosted by the Swedish Bioenergy Association (SveBio).

IEA’s Task 39 is a group of international experts representing 15 countries dedicated to scaling up and increasing the use of low carbon biofuels for transportation as part of the IEA Bioenergy organization. This meeting was organized to review and determine participation in upcoming projects for the next three years. The Council has been working with multilaterals over the past two years to raise awareness of the role of ethanol in the energy transition and help position the industry as a partnership working toward shared goals in long term decarbonization.

“The Council is looking forward to working with other country representatives in Task 39 to scale up the use of biofuels across the globe. Working in tandem with well-regarded non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as IEA, is critical to help countries increase their carbon reduction efforts using sustainably produced, low cost solutions with the best available technology,” Ausdal said.

While at the 2022 Advanced Biofuels Conference, Ausdal offered industry perspectives including the continued reduction in U.S. ethanol’s carbon intensity and ways the U.S. is advancing the use of ethanol including using higher on-road blends including E15 and E85 and the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The conference brought together leading actors and stakeholders in the global biofuels industry to share insights and showcase the latest developments in European Union (EU) and international policy.

While in Sweden, members of Task 39 were given a pre-conference tour of a novel PyroCell plant that converts sawdust from a timber mill into a biocrude used by a local refinery.

“It is amazing what advancements the biofuels industry can make so quickly. While there are many technologies available and upcoming that provide opportunities for further decarbonization, biofuels are a significant and immediate solution to meet the decarbonization needs of light duty, heavy duty, marine and aviation fleets. The potential for ethanol in SAF is especially appealing, as corn ethanol is approved and is currently used as a feedstock for SAF production,” Ausdal said.

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