Thursday, September 1, 2022

Wednesday August 31 Ag News

 Walmart Announces Equity Investment in Sustainable Beef LLC To Provide More High-Quality, Affordable Beef to Shoppers

Walmart and Sustainable Beef LLC announced today that Walmart signed an agreement to acquire a minority stake in Sustainable Beef LLC, a rancher-owned company based in North Platte, Nebraska. Walmart’s equity investment is part of a broader strategic partnership to source top-quality angus beef from Sustainable Beef LLC’s new beef processing facility. This partnership helps supplement the current beef industry and provides additional opportunities for ranchers to increase their business. As part of the investment, Walmart will also have representation on Sustainable Beef’s board.

Walmart’s investment will help Sustainable Beef LLC open their beef processing facility in North Platte, Neb. The facility is expected to break ground next month and open by late 2024, creating more than 800 new jobs. Walmart’s work with Sustainable Beef LLC will create more capacity for the beef industry.

“At Walmart, we are dedicated to providing high-quality, affordable beef to our customers, and an investment in Sustainable Beef LLC will give us even more access to these products,” said Tyler Lehr, senior vice president of merchandising for deli services, meat and seafood, Walmart U.S. “We know Sustainable Beef LLC has a responsible approach to beef processing, one that includes creating long-term growth for cattle ranchers and family farmers. This investment provides greater visibility into the beef supply chain and complements Walmart’s regeneration commitment to improve grazing management.”

Sustainable Beef LLC will work with cattle feeders and ranchers to understand critical elements of the supply chain cycle, such as grain sourcing and grazing management. Animal care will follow the Five Freedoms, and there will be a consistent approach to antibiotic use and reporting across herds in line with Walmart's Position on Antibiotics in Animals, which asks suppliers to adopt and implement American Veterinary Medical Association Judicious Use Principles of Antimicrobials. All of these components will help Sustainable Beef LLC to improve and refine the beef supply chain to provide quality beef for our customers.

“We set out on a journey two years ago to create a new beef processing plant to add some capacity to the industry and provide an opportunity for producers to integrate their business of raising quality cattle with the beef processing portion of the industry and do it in a sustainable manner, said David Briggs, CEO of Sustainable Beef LLC. “During this journey we found that Sustainable Beef and Walmart aligned on continuing to improve how we care for our animals and crops and provide consumers the positive experience of enjoying quality beef.”

Walmart’s investment in Sustainable Beef LLC is the latest step in the retailer's commitment to increasing access to high-quality beef at an affordable price for its customers, while boosting capacity for the beef industry and ensuring long-term economic viability for cattle ranchers.

Cattlemen’s Heritage Perspective on Walmart Investment in Nebraska Beef Plant

As a fourth-generation cattle producer and principal developer of the first new beef processing plant in Iowa in 50 years, Chad Tentinger, reacts to the news that Walmart has signed an agreement to acquire a minority stake in Sustainable Beef of North Platte, Nebraska.

“This news represents a dramatic shift in the beef industry. A major retailer is taking control of inventory in order to ensure reliable supply and pricing. This could be a benefit to consumers and, potentially, beef producers if they are able to participate in way that offers fairer pricing to them,” said Chad Tentinger, principal developer of Cattlemen’s Heritage Beef Company.

Cattlemen’s Heritage, a Des Moines, Iowa corporation with its roots in livestock production and construction, will construct a $520-million, 2,000-head-per-day beef-processing facility in Mills County, Iowa, that will employ up to 800 workers and have an estimated annual economic impact of $1.1 billion.

“The Walmart announcement on its investment illustrates the need for fundamental changes in the beef industry. The nation’s largest retailer is clearly trying to adjust its relationship with the ‘Big Four’ processors to secure beef supply and quality. I see this every day -- beef producers need new options as well to address the significant challenges they face such as volatile pricing, a reduced share of the retail dollar and lack of favorable access to processing capacity,” said Tentinger.

The producer-led Cattlemen’s Heritage project planned for Western Iowa offers the best opportunity for family farm beef producers to claim more control in this dynamic beef market.


– Samantha Daniel, NE Extension Educator

In the summer of 1874, Nebraska was experiencing an extreme drought, not unlike the conditions the state is experiencing this year. Despite this, crops were growing, and families were hopeful, until July. From the west came a cloud that blocked out the sun and sounded like a storm: locusts.

These were Rocky Mountain Locusts, relatives of grasshoppers, which had descended on the Great Plains from Colorado, Wyoming and Montana in numbers nearing the trillions. Not only were crops eaten to the ground, but clothes were reportedly consumed from farmers’ backs and trains were halted due to the sheer number of locust bodies being crushed under their wheels.

This account is no doubt unsettling; however, such swarms are no longer a threat in Nebraska. Ultimately, the Rocky Mountain Locust was eradicated from North America by 1902, due primarily to western development.

While we no longer need to worry about locust swarms that fill every corner of the sky,

current drought conditions throughout much of Nebraska has created an environment conducive to grasshopper movement into crops from field edges. It is important to note, however, that grasshopper presence does not necessarily indicate a need for treatment. By conducting visual counts or using a sweep net, you can determine if the threshold of 15-20 nymphs or 8-10 adults per square yard has been reached in your field.

If grasshopper levels have reached threshold, treatment with an insecticide may be feasible as long as pre-harvest intervals are considered. Many insecticides used for other insects in alfalfa and other forages are also labeled for grasshoppers. Please be especially careful to avoid injuring bee and other important pollinating insects when using insecticides and carefully read and follow all label directions.

It's also important to remember that our goal isn’t to completely eradicate grasshoppers from our fields, but to reduce their numbers to below threshold levels and give our crops a chance to “win the race” against pests.

How lower beef cow numbers will impact dairy beef pregnancies on dairy farms to be discussed on Dairy Team Webinar on Sept. 14

The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Dairy Team monthly webinar series continues on Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 12 noon to 1 p.m. The program will feature Dr. Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University, and Brandon Peterson from Trans Ova.

Dr. Derrell Peel holds the Charles Breedlove Professorship of Agribusiness in the Department of Agricultural Economics and has served as the Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist at OSU since 1989. His extension programs focus on livestock market situation and outlook and marketing/risk management education for producers. Peel will present on how declining beef cow numbers may affect prices dairy producers receive for feeders and replacement heifers.

Brandon Peterson is Director of Sales at Trans Ova Genetics where he leads a sales team to continue Trans Ova’s impact of advanced reproductive technologies on the beef and dairy sectors, both domestically and internationally. He will help producers understand the dairy beef opportunities and how they can improve margins from the calves. Peterson grew up on a diversified livestock farm in Southeast South Dakota. He graduated from South Dakota State University in 2000 with a degree in Animal Science. Upon graduation, Peterson worked for Land O Lakes/Farmland Feeds and Hubbard Feeds, and also served in the feed industry as a private consultant. Brandon has also served as the Director of Business Development for Hydrogreen Global Technologies and worked with cow/calf and dairy operations in the West and Southwestern portion of the United States. He is also the owner and manager of Peterson Angus, a 250 head registered Angus operation near Alcester, South Dakota.

Producers, dairy consultants, and industry reps are encouraged to attend the webinar. There is no fee for the program, but preregistration is requested at Attendees should log on before noon as the program will start promptly at 12 noon. There will be a question-and-answer session after the presentation.

For more information contact the ISU Extension and Outreach Dairy Field Specialist in your area: in Northwest Iowa, Fred M. Hall, 712-737-4230 or; in Northeast Iowa, Jennifer Bentley, 563-382-2949 or; in East Central Iowa, Larry Tranel, 563-583-6496 or

The Influence of Fertilizer Timing on Nitrate Loss Is Focus of Webinar

The Iowa Learning Farms conservation webinar taking place Sept. 7 at noon CDT will feature Emily Waring, graduate of Iowa State University’s Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. While at Iowa State, Waring collaborated with professor Matthew Helmers and fellow researchers Landon Lenhart and Andrew Weaver in studying the influence of fertilizer timing on nitrate loss at field and farm scales.

Waring’s primary research focused on managing nitrogen loss from subsurface drainage using in-field practices such as the 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework.

Iowa Learning Farms is an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach conservation and water quality education program.

In the webinar, “Influence of Fertilizer Timing on Nitrate Loss and Crop Yield,” Waring will discuss a six-year field study investigating nitrate loss from row-crop fields under different fertilizer application timing conditions.

The study compared losses between a no-nitrogen control, fall anhydrous ammonia with an inhibitor, spring anhydrous ammonia application, and split-applied urea. Waring will also provide insights into the factors impacting nitrate losses that affect water quality, and how the reductions noted in the study contribute to reaching Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy goals.

“Weather and other variables — some of which can be controlled and others that cannot — can make the management of nutrient losses to drainage water a complicated problem,” said Waring. “However, there is solid evidence that application of anhydrous with an inhibitor to cold soil in the fall has roughly the same effect on water quality as spring application.”

In addition, the study validates that fertilizer management can have direct impact on water quality but is not sufficient to achieve targeted nitrate levels without application of additional conservation practices, according to Waring.

Participants in Iowa Learning Farms Conservation Webinars are encouraged to ask questions of the presenters. People from all backgrounds and areas of interest are encouraged to join.

Webinar Access Instructions

    To participate in the live webinar, shortly before noon CDT Sep. 7:
    Click this URL, or type this web address into your internet browser:
    Or, go to and enter meeting ID: 364 284 172. Or, join from a dial-in phone line by dialing +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 876 9923; Meeting ID: 364 284 172.
    The webinar will also be recorded and archived on the ILF website so that it can be watched at any time.
    A Certified Crop Adviser board-approved continuing education unit (CEU) has been applied for. Those who participate in the live webinar are eligible. Information about how to apply to receive the credit will be provided at the end of the live webinar.

Upcoming Webinars in the Series:

    Sept. 14: Brian Dougherty, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
    Sept. 21: Trisha Moore, Kansas State University
    Sept. 28: Raj Raman, Iowa State University
    Oct. 5: Vinayak Shedekar, Ohio State University

Updates to Crop Insurance Plans Broaden Access for Specialty Crop, Organic, Direct Market and Other Producers 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is improving two of its most comprehensive risk management safety net programs, Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) and Micro Farm, making them more accessible to America’s agricultural producers. This includes doubling the maximum insurable revenue under WFRP, now $17 million, more than tripling the size of farm operations eligible for Micro Farm, now $350,000 and reducing paperwork requirements for WFRP. These improvements are in direct response to feedback from stakeholders as USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) recognizes the important role these insurance options play for many producers, including specialty crop, organic and direct market producers.  

“Listening to farmers and ranchers, learning about their needs and increasing access to resources are all priorities for us at RMA,” said RMA Administrator Marcia Bunger. “Over the past year and a half, we have rolled out a number of improvements to WFRP, as well as introduced the new Micro Farm program, and through updates to Whole Farm Revenue Protection and Micro Farm, RMA can now help even more local food, direct market, specialty crop and organic producers protect their operations.”  

Whole-Farm Revenue Protection  

The WFRP program provides protection for all eligible commodities on a farm under one insurance policy. Now, producers can insure up to $17 million in revenue (formerly $8.5 million).  

Other updates to WFRP include:  
    Allowing a producer to report and self-certify yield at the beginning of the year for commodities without other insurance options in a way similar to those with individual crop policies. This will significantly reduce the amount of paperwork required to apply for WFRP.  

    Eliminating expense reporting to reduce paperwork burden. In place of expense reporting, WFRP will reduce the expected revenue of commodities a producer is unable to plant to 60%, similar to prevented planting for other programs.  

These updates build on others recently made to WFRP, including expanded coverage and flexibilities for organic producers.  

Micro Farm  

The Micro Farm program, offered through WFRP, provides a risk management safety net for all eligible commodities on a farm under one insurance policy, but on a smaller scale. Now, producers with farm operations up to $350,000 in approved revenue (formerly $100,000) can get coverage. RMA introduced the new Micro Farm program in 2021 to better serve direct market and small-scale producers. While the program is well received and feedback has been largely positive, industry partners and small, diversified producers have informed RMA that the current limit is too low to meet the needs of many interested producers. In response, the FCIC approved the increase in size for eligible farm operations.  

The updates to WFRP and Micro Farm take effect in crop year 2023.  

More Information  

Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the RMA Agent Locator. Learn more about crop insurance and the modern farm safety net at

Anhydrous Continues to Lead Retail Fertilizer Prices Lower

All average retail fertilizer prices moved lower again the fourth week of August 2022, according to sellers surveyed by DTN. This marks a full month all eight of the major fertilizers are less expensive compared to a month ago.

Only one fertilizer was significantly lower, which DTN designates as anything 5% or more. Anhydrous was 7% less expensive than last month. The nitrogen fertilizer's average price was $1,331 per ton.  The remaining seven fertilizers were just slightly lower. DAP had an average price of $972 per ton, MAP $1,026/ton, potash $880/ton, urea $804/ton, 10-34-0 $869/ton, UAN28 $575/ton and UAN32 $676/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.87/lb.N, anhydrous $0.81/lb.N, UAN28 $1.03/lb.N and UAN32 $1.06/lb.N.

Despite lower prices in recent months, all fertilizers continue to be considerably higher in price than one year earlier. MAP is 36% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 38% higher, DAP is 40% more expensive, urea is 44% higher, potash and UAN28 are both 55% more expensive, UAN32 is 61% higher and anhydrous is 78% more expensive compared to last year.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 8/26/2022

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending August 26, ethanol production scaled back 1.7% to 970,000 b/d, equivalent to 40.74 million gallons daily and the smallest volume since April. Production was 7.2% more than the same week last year but 2.7% below the five-year average for the week. The four-week average ethanol production volume decreased 1.8% to 991,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 15.19 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks tightened by 1.2% to 23.5 million barrels. However, stocks were 11.5% higher than a year ago and 7.3% above the five-year average. Inventories thinned across all regions except the Rocky Mountains (PADD 4) and West Coast (PADD 5).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, increased 1.9% to 8.59 million b/d (131.70 bg annualized). Demand was 10.3% less than a year ago and 8.1% below the five-year average.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol declined 1.4% to a five-week low of 906,000 b/d, equivalent to 13.89 bg annualized. Net inputs were 2.2% less than a year ago and 1.6% below the five-year average.

Imports of ethanol totaled 36,000 b/d, or 10.58 million gallons for the week. This marks the second time this month that imports hit the West Coast. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of June 2022.)

Soybean Farmers Provide $900,000 to Help Expand Soybean Meal Exports

One of the most dynamic developments within the soybean industry in recent history has been the proliferation of current and planned expansion of soybean processing throughout the United States – largely inspired by the demand for soybean oil as one of the primary feedstocks for the expanding renewable energy market.  These current and planned investments present a profound question, “With all of the future processing, how can we most effectively access markets for the increased soybean meal?”.  A group of soybean farmer organizations are helping provide an answer to this question by assisting a future investment that will significantly enhance the amount of U.S. soybean meal exported to international customers.  

AG Processing, Inc. (AGP), the Omaha-based cooperative that owns and operates ten soybean processing facilities in the Midwest, announced on March 22nd a major expansion and upgrade to its export terminal at the Port of Grays Harbor in Aberdeen, Washington.  AGP plans to construct additional storage at its Terminal 2 facility and develop a new ship loader at Terminal 4.  These investments – scheduled to be operational in 2025 – will ultimately allow the AGP terminal to increase soybean meal exports from 3 million to 6 million metric tons.  In order to accommodate this growth and investment, the Port of Grays Harbor will expand its rail infrastructure within the complex to efficiently handle the increased volume, as well as mitigate the surface traffic impact to the local community.

Given the profound benefit these planned investments will provide to a significant number U.S. soybean farmers, the Iowa Soybean Association, the Kansas Soybean Commission, the Nebraska Soybean Board, the North Dakota Soybean Council, the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, and the Soy Transportation Coalition have committed $900,000 to help offset some of the pre-engineering, design, and site development costs of the Port of Grays Harbor Terminal 4 Expansion and Redevelopment Project.

“With more future soybean processing in this country, farmers are very interested in opportunities to assist with the increased need for soybean meal export capacity,” says Jonathan Miller, a soybean farmer from Island, Kentucky, and Chairman of the Soy Transportation Coalition.  “The more we can export a higher value product, like soybean meal, farmers will benefit.  I am proud how these soybean farmer organizations are demonstrating their commitment to their fellow producers by making this significant investment.”

“Over the past 20 years, AGP has been an excellent partner, and we are excited to continue to collaborate with them on this major expansion,” says Gary Nelson, Executive Director of the Port of Grays Harbor.  “We are extremely pleased and grateful to receive this generous support from soybean farmers.  It will clearly enhance this project as it moves forward.  We look forward to the Port of Grays Harbor becoming an even more significant economic engine for not only our local and regional community, but also soybean farmers throughout the country.”   

“AGP’s previous and future investments at the Port of Grays Harbor are motivated by the commitment to provide efficient and economical access to international markets for U.S. soybean meal,” says Chris Schaffer, Chief Executive Officer of AGP.  “For many years, this export terminal has served as a vital link between AGP farmer-owned cooperative members and critical international markets.  We very much appreciate the financial commitment from the soybean farmer organizations to support AGP’s efforts to enhance and upgrade the port’s export capabilities.”

“What happens over there impacts what happens over here, and what happens over here impacts what happens over there,” explains Mike Steenhoek, Executive Director of the Soy Transportation Coalition.  “It is well-established how investments in the Pacific Northwest will result in greater farmer profitability in the Midwest.  In turn, profitable farmers in the Midwest result in increased investment in the Pacific Northwest.  AGP’s expansion project at the Port of Grays Harbor is arguably the most immediate opportunity for soybean farmers to assist with the need for increased soybean meal export capacity.  The Soy Transportation Coalition and other farmer organizations are pleased to partner in this important project.”  

USDA Announces $21.9 Million in Grants Awarded to Further Strengthen Meat and Poultry Supply Chains; Build New and Better Markets through Investments and Technical Assistance

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) today announced an additional $21.9 million of funding is being awarded to 111 grant projects through the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant Program (MPIRG), bringing total funding to $54.6 million. This year’s awards will fund projects in 37 states. The funding will help strengthen and develop new market opportunities for meat and poultry processors throughout the United States. To further these efforts, AMS is also encouraging MPIRG awardees and eligible participants in USDA’s Meat and Poultry Supply Chain initiatives to request assistance through the Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity Technical Assistance Program (MPPTA). Launched in March 2022, MPPTA connects participants to a nationwide network of resources and expertise.

“The Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grants will help meat and poultry processors make necessary facility improvements, expand their businesses, and strengthen the nation’s food supply chain,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “These grants are one part of USDA’s Meat and Poultry Supply Chain initiatives and will contribute to our efforts to transform our food system.”

“USDA continues to build capacity and increase economic opportunity for small and midsized meat and poultry producers across the country,” added Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt.

Examples of projects funded this round include:
    Homegrown LG OK, a small processing plant in Locust Grove, Okla., will use MPIRG funding to modernize, expand, and comply with Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) protocols. The funding will allow the plant to purchase new machines to increase weekly production in a rural and low access area.
    The Fork Food Lab, a shared-use kitchen incubator in Portland, Maine, will utilize MPIRG funding to expand into a 42,000-sq-ft facility that meets the requirements for a Federal Grant of Inspection (GOI). The project is helping Fork Food Lab procure specialized equipment, assist five processors obtain Federal GOIs for wholesale distribution, support startup operations, and provide ongoing training and technical assistance to processors positioned for wholesale.
    The Wall Meat Processing plant in Wall, S.D, has been awarded MPIRG funding to purchase equipment to improve humane handling and enhance food safety measures and efficiencies. The project will help the plant seamlessly deliver service operations in protein manufacturing to their producers and customers under the Cooperative Interstate Shipping program (CIS). Participating in the CIS program will open the plant to larger markets and add another resource to the food supply chain.

Facility improvements and expansions funded through MPIRG will help processors obtain a Federal Grant of Inspection or qualify for a state’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment program. Achieving a Federal Grant of Inspection or operating under a Cooperative Interstate Shipment program allows meat and poultry processors to ship products across state lines, develop new markets, increase capacity, and better meet consumer and producer demand along the supply chain.

MPIRG recipients and other eligible participants, especially small and underserved stakeholders, in USDA’s Meat and Poultry Supply Chain initiatives are encouraged to take advantage of the broad technical assistance offered through MPPTA. AMS has cooperative agreements with six organizations to form the MPPTA network, which has already provided valuable assistance to over 300 businesses and organizations across the U.S. and its territories since its launch earlier this year.

For more information about MPPTA and the organizations involved, and to initiate a request for assistance, visit AMS’ MPPTA webpage. To view the list of this year’s MPIRG awardees, visit the MPRIG award page. Additional information on MPIRG can be found on AMS’ MPIRG webpage.

Raven Industries, Case IH Debuts First Autonomous Spreader

Case IH and Raven Industries introduce the agriculture industry's first autonomous spreader: the Case IH Trident 5550 applicator with Raven Autonomy. Unveiled at Farm Progress Show 2022, this innovative solution delivers on customers' demands for autonomous equipment to help solve labor challenges and increase productivity on their operations.

"This is a significant milestone in our accelerated product development efforts between Case IH and Raven, highlighting our intense collaboration and robust product innovation following CNH Industrial's acquisition of Raven in late 2021," said Scott Harris, Case IH global brand president.

The Case IH Trident 5550 applicator with Raven Autonomy combines proven driverless technology with an agronomically designed spreading platform for a flexible autonomous solution. The technology stack is powered by guidance and steering, propulsion control, perception, and path planning software developed by Raven.

"The core of today's ag tech is rooted in Raven's customer-centric approach: simplifying farming processes to gain tremendous efficiencies," said Eric Shuman, Raven general manager. "This integrated solution empowers customers to make their operations even more efficient, encouraging them to thoughtfully adopt increasing levels of automation and autonomy."

From a mobile device, operators can plan and complete an entire field operation based on mapped field boundaries. The Raven Autonomy perception system, through a series of advanced cameras and radar system, is constantly sensing a 360-degree environment around the machine for obstacles and motion initiation while operating. With artificial intelligence, Raven's perception controller processes the continuous stream of images, which interprets and detects obstacles. The remote operator can view the cameras through the mobile device at any time.

If an obstacle is detected, the machine will safely come to a stop and an alert will pop up on the mobile device. From there, the operator can evaluate the situation and determine the next course of action. A variety of machine tasks and functions can be viewed remotely through the mobile device, including but not limited to fuel level, Diesel Exhaust Fluid level, speed, revolutions per minute (RPM), bin-level status, Universal Terminal information and diagnostic trouble codes.

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