Sunday, October 23, 2022

Thursday October 20 Ag News

Rural Mainstreet Economic Index Falls Below Growth Neutral Again: Fifth Straight Month of Deterioration
The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) fell for the sixth time in the past seven months, sinking below growth neutral for a fifth consecutive month, according to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.      

Overall: The region’s overall reading for October once again sank below growth neutral to 44.2 from 46.3 in September. The index ranges between 0 and 100 with a reading of 50.0 representing growth neutral. This was the fifth consecutive month the overall reading has fallen below growth neutral.

“The Rural Mainstreet economy is now experiencing a downturn in economic activity. Almost one in four bankers, or 23.1%, reported that the economy was already in a recession. Approximately, three of four bankers expect a recession to begin in 2023,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business.

Farming and ranching: The region’s farmland price index for October declined to 58.0 from September’s 61.1 but moved above growth neutral for the 25th straight month.

This month, bankers were asked to estimate the increase in farm equity for 2022. On average, bankers forecast a 3.4% boost in farm equity from 2021 levels. This compares to a 4.2% projection from the USDA for the nation’s farmers.  

Farm equipment sales: For the second time in the past three months, the farm equipment-sales index slumped below growth neutral to 47.8 from September’s 58.0. The index has risen above growth neutral for 21 of the last 23 months.

Confidence: The slowing economy, strong energy prices, higher borrowing costs and elevated agriculture input costs pushed the business confidence index down to 30.8 from 40.7 in September. “This is the lowest reading for the confidence index since May 2020,” said Goss.

Below are the state reports:
Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for October once again dropped below growth neutral to 40.1 from September’s 49.3. The state’s farmland-price index fell to 55.2 from last month’s 64.3. Nebraska’s October new-hiring index rose to 51.5 from 48.3 in September. Over the past 12 months, BLS data show that Nebraska’s Rural Mainstreet Economy experienced a 1.9% increase in non-farm employment, while urban areas in the state gained 1.5% in non-farm employment.   

Iowa: Iowa’s October RMI slumped to 45.6 from 48.0 in September. Iowa’s farmland-price index descended to 60.4 from September’s 63.7. Iowa’s new-hiring index for October dropped to 51.8 from September’s 52.3. Over the past 12 months, BLS data show that Iowa’s Rural Mainstreet Economy experienced a 3.7% increase in non-farm employment, while urban areas in the state gained 1.6% in non-farm employment.

The survey represents an early snapshot of the economy of rural agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of the nation. The Rural Mainstreet Index is a unique index covering 10 regional states, focusing on approximately 200 rural communities with an average population of 1,300. The index provides the most current real-time analysis of the rural economy. Goss and Bill McQuillan, former chairman of the Independent Community Banks of America, created the monthly economic survey and launched it in January 2006.

Nebraska Soybean Board begins search for new executive director

The Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) is announcing its search for a new executive director. Current executive director, Scott Ritzman, has announced his resignation and will be returning to the international grain export industry launching projects for clients, enhancing existing programs and solving client problems in foreign markets.

“Since being hired as associate executive director in the fall of 2019 and eventually executive director in the spring of 2020, I have greatly enjoyed serving the Board and Nebraska’s nearly 22,000 soybean farmers,” said Scott Ritzman, NSB outgoing executive director. “I have enjoyed getting to work for our innovative and collaborative Board and wish continued success upon Nebraska soybean checkoff projects and initiatives. I am also excited for the future and the opportunity to stay engaged in the soybean industry.”

Ritzman’s last day will be October 28, 2022. Lois Ronhovde will serve as interim executive director until the position is filled. Ronhovde brings over 20 years of experience with NSB and currently serves as director of accounting.

“Today we begin our search for great candidates to lead one of the state’s top agricultural organizations,” said Doug Saathoff, NSB chairman and farmer from Trumbull. “We are grateful for Scott Ritzman’s leadership over the years, and I am confident in Lois Ronhovde’s experience and guidance as the Board begins its search for a new executive director.”

NSB is searching for an experienced, reliable and task-oriented individual. The ideal candidate is highly motivated, professional and capable of managing their work load and prioritizing tasks in a fast-paced environment. This is an excellent opportunity to join a growing commodity organization with competitive compensation.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Welcomes Several New Hires

Nebraska Farm Bureau has welcomed several new members to its team.

Chase Samuelson has been hired as the Central regional manager. Samuelson grew up on his family's farm near Palmer and has been active in Farm Bureau, serving as a Governmental Relations intern in 2018 and is a Merrick County Farm Bureau member. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Samuelson comes to Nebraska Farm Bureau from State Bank of Scotia, where he was assistant vice president serving farmers and ranchers in Central Nebraska.

“We are very excited to have Chase join the Nebraska Farm Bureau team. He is passionate about ensuring that farmers and ranchers have a strong voice on the issues affecting their farms and ranches,” said Adam Peterson, NEFB senior director of leadership/field services.

Samuelson will work with county Farm Bureaus in 13 counties in the Central region, including Boone, Buffalo, Butler, Colfax, Greeley, Hall, Howard, Merrick, Nance, Platte, Polk, Sherman, and Valley.

Nebraska Farm Bureau has hired Austin Harthoorn to serve as economist. He recently graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics. Austin gathered experience through internships at USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) in Washington, D.C.; CHS Inc., and Archer Daniels Midland. Austin has contributed to numerous University of Nebraska publications, tackling a wide array of topics. Harthoorn grew on his family’s farm near Ainsworth where they run a longhorn cow/calf operation and grow row crops.

“The ability to identify the dollars and cents impacts of policy initiatives on our farm and ranch members is a critical piece of our advocacy efforts. Austin brings a passion for agriculture and an excellent skill set to help evaluate proposed legislation, regulations, evolving agricultural markets, and the agricultural production landscape as we work to serve our farm and ranch families. We’re extremely excited to have Austin join our team,” said Craig Head, NEFB chief advocacy officer.

Nebraska Farm Bureau hired Eric Paseka as comptroller for Nebraska Farm Bureau. Paseka grew up in Prague and graduated from Wayne State College. He joins Nebraska Farm Bureau from BMG Certified Public Accountants, LLP, and has more than 13 years of accounting and auditing experience. Eric has worked on the audit for Nebraska Farm Bureau corporations for 10 years, and his familiarity with NEFB’s business structure and accounts will help him as he gets started in his new role. He and his wife, Bridget, live in Lincoln with their sons, Lucas (9), Isaac (8), and Vincent (5).

“Any time we have staff changes, the NEFB leadership evaluates our organizational structure to make sure we are delivering value to our farm and ranch members. We are very happy to have Eric here on our Nebraska Farm Bureau team,” said Rob Robertson, NEFB chief administrator.

Paseka joined the staff, Aug. 15, Harthoorn joined the staff Sept. 21, and Samuelson joined the staff Sept. 12.

Nebraska Farmers Union PAC Announces General Election Endorsements

NEBFARMPAC, the political action committee of Nebraska Farmers Union, Nebraska’s second largest general farm organization with over 3,700 farm and ranch families, announced its general election endorsements today for Governor, Congress, the Legislature, Public Service Commission, State Board of Education, Public Power Districts, Natural Resource Districts, and County Commissioners.

Based on their position on family farm and ranch issues with input from county and district officers as well as state office staff, the NEBFARMPAC Board of Directors announced the following Primary endorsements, with NeFU members in bold:
Governor: Carol Blood/Al Davis
Congress Second District: Tony Vargas

Nebraska Legislature
LD2:    Sarah Slattery
LD6:   *Michaela Cavanaugh
LD8:    *Megan Hunt
LD10: *Wendy DeBoer
LD12: Robin Richards
LD18:  Michael Young
LD20:  John Fredrickson & Stu Dornan
LD22: *Mike Moser
LD26: George Dungan lll
LD28: Jane Raybould
LD30: *Myron Dorn (unopposed)
LD31: Tim Royers
LD32: *Tom Brandt (unopposed)
LD36: Angie Lauritsen
LD42:  Mike Jacobson
LD44   Teresa Ibach
LD46: James Michael Bowers/Danielle Conrad
LD48: Don Lease ll

Public Service Commission
Subdistrict 4: Eric Kamler

Nebraska Public Power District
Subdivision 3: *Melissa Freelend
Subdivision 10: Ben Temple

Omaha Public Power District
Subdivision 4: Matt Core
Subdivision 5: *Craig Moody

Nebraska Board of Regents
Subdistrict 7: Matt Williams

State Board of Education
Subdistrict 5: Helen Raikes
Subdistrict 6: Danielle Helzer
Subdistrict 7: *Robin Stevens
Subdistrict 8: *Deborah Neary          

Lower Big Blue NRD
Subdistrict 1: Anne DeVries

Lower Platte North NRD
Subdistrict 3: Andrew Tonnies
At Large:  Dr. Tom McKnight

Lower Platte South NRD
Subdistrict 3: Melissa Baker
Subdistrict 8:  *Tom Green (unopposed)

Lancaster County Commissioner
Subdistrict 1: *Sean Flowerday
Subdistrict 5: *Rick Vest

Ricketts Announces EPA Approval of State’s Expanded E30 Demonstration Project

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the continuation of groundbreaking research being done in Nebraska on E30 fuel.  Results of the State’s initial pilot program, launched in 2019, showed that E30 is safe and reliable fuel for use in conventional vehicles.  Under current EPA guidelines, only flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) can use ethanol blends higher than E15.  Through its second phase of research, the State intends to underscore its initial findings in order to support regulatory change to make E30 accessible to all drivers.

In June 2019, the State of Nebraska began its study on the use of locally sourced E30 biofuel in conventional vehicles.  State teammates outfitted 50 State-owned vehicles with onboard tracking systems to capture data on vehicle performance.  They monitored those vehicles for an entire year.  Data was submitted to engineers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) for analysis.  

In 2021, UNL’s Engineering Department released its analysis of data from the first phase of the demonstration.  It clearly showed that E30, a blend of gasoline and 30% ethanol, is safe and efficient to use in non-FFVs.  Read the report here.  This peer-reviewed research was the first scientific demonstration of its kind.

The second phase of the E30 demonstration will begin in the fall 2022 and include up to 825 State vehicles.  While further demonstrating the safety and reliability of E30, the State will also significantly reduce its fuel costs and carbon footprint through the program.

“Promoting higher ethanol blends 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 in America’s Heartland.  Nebraska has already demonstrated that E30 can be used in regular vehicles without reducing performance or requiring extra maintenance.  With our expanded study, we’ll be in an even stronger position to advocate regulatory change to make E30 accessible to everyone.”

One of the key findings from the first phase of the E30 demonstration is the positive environmental impact of allowing statewide E30 consumption.  According to the Nebraska Ethanol Board, if only 10% of the 1.7 million registered non-FFVs in Nebraska used E30 instead of E10, ethanol consumption would increase by 18.5 million gallons per year and carbon emissions would decrease by 64,000 tons per year.

“This marks another significant milestone for the nation’s ethanol industry and another significant step in reducing gasoline’s aromatic content,” said Reid Wagner, Executive Director of the Nebraska Ethanol Board.  “We have demonstrated that higher ethanol blends release fewer harmful emissions, have no detrimental impact on vehicles, and save consumers money.  We hope to see other states follow Nebraska’s lead by demonstrating the use of E30 in their state fleets.”

Wagner said the State plans to work with industry partners and the EPA to continue the E30 demonstration for at least two years.

Fischer, Colleagues Lead Bipartisan Request to Restore Integrity of RFS, Support Strong Biofuels Future

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture committee, this week joined 12 of her colleagues in urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish renewable volume obligations that are additive for all fuel types in the upcoming “set” rule under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The bipartisan group of senators also highlighted additional actions EPA should take to fully leverage the power of biofuels, including updating lifecycle analysis for biofuel emissions and approving additional fuel registrations and pathways under the RFS. Taken together, these steps would help to restore the integrity of the RFS and ensure biofuels continue to play an important role in meeting America’s energy needs.

“Through this rulemaking, EPA has a historic opportunity to not only reinforce its efforts to restore integrity to the RFS, but chart a new course for biofuels that will help meet America’s diverse energy demands while further decarbonizing numerous sectors of our economy,” the senators wrote to EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “In order to guard against sidelining decades of investment and the diverse workforce that supports biofuels, we request that EPA set the conventional target above 15 billion gallons, set advanced biofuel volumes that account for increased production capacity of fuels like sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel, and ensure that renewable identification numbers (RINs) for emerging technologies and e-RINs are additive to existing volumes.”

“Corn growers appreciate Senators’ leadership and advocacy for renewable fuels with EPA,” said Tom Hagg, president of the National Corn Growers Association. “We also urge EPA to maximize the environmental and economic benefits of the RFS in the pending rulemaking, building on the success of biofuels to do more to cut emissions and lower fuel prices.”

U.S. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) led the letter.

Additional cosigners include U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).

BigIron Auctions and Sullivan Auctioneers Create Strategic Advisory Board

In recent weeks, BigIron Auctions and Sullivan Auctioneers have begun meeting regularly to share best practices as they look toward the future together. As these organizations focus their efforts on growth, BigIron is excited to announce they have created a Strategic Advisory Board that will meet quarterly. The objectives for this advisory group will be to provide subject matter expertise in areas outside the BigIron core businesses, as well as establish new relationships in other verticals that will create opportunities and support the organization’s overall growth. These include equipment, real estate, livestock and transportation sectors.

BigIron’s Strategic Advisory Board will consist of the following members:
    Greg Owens is currently the Chairman & CEO of NRTC/iGAM, a company that specializes in robotics and automation, as well as CEO of HGR, a marketplace for used and surplus industrial equipment. Prior to this, he was Chairman & CEO of IronPlanet from 2007 to June of 2017.

    Bill Sullivan is the current Director of Operations at Sullivan Auctioneers; prior to this, he was the owner/partner of several JD Dealer OEM Stores. He comes with over 40+ years in the industry and is a wealth knowledge of in the world of operations.

    The BigIron Executive Team – Mark Stock (Co-Founder & CEO), Ron Stock (Co-Founder), Kim McCormick (CFO), Mark Allen (CTO) and Kerin Zuger (CRO).

Members of the Advisory Board were selected based upon their industry experience, vision and business acumen, with the intent that their knowledge will be used to help BigIron navigate its anticipated growth. Looking ahead, BigIron will look at how they can leverage cutting edge technology for their auction platform to ensure they are delivering complete solutions for their customers.

With this advisory board in place, BigIron is eager to catapult the organization as a collective brand to the next level. Keep your eye out for yellow; we’re likely to see more news coming from BigIron in 2023!


Milk production in Nebraska during the July-September 2022 quarter totaled 348 million pounds, down 1% from the July-September quarter last year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average number of milk cows was 57,000 head, 1,000 head less than the same period last year.

July-September U.S. Milk Production up 1.2 Percent
Milk production in the United States during the July - September quarter totaled 56.5 billion pounds, up 1.2 percent from the July - September quarter last year. The average number of milk cows in the United States during the quarter was 9.41 million head, unchanged from the April - June quarter, but 29,000 head less than the same period last year.

Iowa:  Milk production in Iowa during September 2022 totaled 473 million pounds, up 5 percent from the previous September according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during September, at 237,000 head, was 1,000 below last month but up 12,000 from September 2021. Monthly production per cow averaged 1,995 pounds, unchanged from last September.

September U.S. Milk Production up 1.6 Percent
Milk production in the 24 major States during September totaled 17.5 billion pounds, up 1.6 percent from September 2021. August revised production, at 18.2 billion pounds, was up 1.8 percent from August 2021. The August revision represented an increase of 13 million pounds or 0.1 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.

Production per cow in the 24 major States averaged 1,961 pounds for September, 26 pounds above September 2021. The number of milk cows on farms in the 24 major States was 8.93 million head, 19,000 head more than September 2021, but 2,000 head less than August 2022.

Record High Beef Production for September

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.67 billion pounds in September, up 2 percent from the 4.58 billion pounds produced in September 2021.

Beef production, at 2.39 billion pounds, was 4 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.90 million head, up 4 percent from September 2021. The average live weight was down 1 pound from the previous year, at 1,364 pounds.

Veal production totaled 4.2 million pounds, 5 percent below September a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 30,800 head, down 10 percent from September 2021. The average live weight was up 14 pounds from last year, at 238 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.26 billion pounds, down slightly from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 10.7 million head, down 1 percent from September 2021. The average live weight was up 2 pounds from the previous year, at 285 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 10.7 million pounds, was down slightly from September 2021. Sheep slaughter totaled 168,800 head, 8 percent below last year. The average live weight was 125 pounds, up 9 pounds from September a year ago.

By State               million lbs. - % Sept '21

Nebraska ...:               682.8            104       
Iowa ..........:               713.5             98       
Kansas .......:               511.2            101       

January to September 2022 commercial red meat production was 41.5 billion pounds, down slightly from 2021. Accumulated beef production was up 2 percent from last year, veal was up 4 percent, pork was down 2 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 4 percent.

HPAI Discovered in Non-Commercial Backyard Flock in Dallas County, Iowa

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have confirmed a positive case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Dallas County, Iowa.

The virus was found in a non-commercial backyard flock, and this is the first confirmed case of HPAI in Dallas County. Prior to today’s confirmation, the last case of HPAI in an Iowa backyard or commercial flock was May 2.

“It is not unexpected that we would face additional highly pathogenic avian influenza challenges in Iowa given that the fall migration is underway, and many other states have recently announced confirmed cases,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “We continue to work with impacted producers, USDA, and other industry stakeholders to refine and implement our response plans to limit the spread of this virus. Enhanced biosecurity remains the best line of defense to protect animal health.”

Commercial and backyard flock owners should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds. Sick birds or unusual deaths among birds should be immediately reported to state or federal officials. Biosecurity resources and best practices are available at If producers suspect signs of HPAI in their flocks, they should contact their veterinarian immediately. Possible cases must also be reported to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship at (515) 281-5305.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recent HPAI detections in birds do not present a public health concern. It remains safe to eat poultry products. As a reminder, consumers should always utilize the proper handling and cooking of eggs and poultry products. An internal temperature of 165˚F kills bacteria and viruses.

Five Tips for Staying Safe While Handling Manure


Follow these tips for manure handling safety including air quality, ventilation, warning tags, confined space protocol and fire hazards.

Manure produced from pigs is a valuable nutrient source for crops and an important component of the pork industry’s sustainability story. However, manure has a downside. It produces gases that can be harmful to people and pigs as it breaks down.

The four main gases produced from manure are hydrogen sulfide, methane, ammonia and carbon dioxide.1 In high concentrations, each of these gases may be harmful and even cause death. Safety must be a top priority when manure is being handled from a manure pit or lagoon.

Producers and manure handling contractors should review and update their Emergency Action Plan related to pumping, storage, handling and toxic gas exposure. Here are five things to consider for handling manure safely.

1. Monitor Air Quality
While pumping and agitating manure, air quality should be monitored. Consider purchasing a hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas monitor for anyone who will be near the area where manure is being pumped. In addition, stay alert for signs of gas exposure including, but not limited to, irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, dizziness and nausea.

Manure handlers should be prepared to call 911 or other resources in their Emergency Action Plan if a toxic gas emergency arises.

2. Properly Ventilate Barns and Tag Doors
Before pumping manure, fully open all ventilation curtains and run ventilation fans at maximum speed. Continue maximum ventilation for at least 30 minutes after pumping is completed.

Ensure all people are out of the barn and tag all doors noting the barn is unsafe for entry during agitation and pumping. No one should enter a building where manure is being pumped and agitated.

3. Follow Confined Space Entry Protocol
According to OSHA, many manure handling and storage facilities are considered a confined space. Never enter a manure storage facility unless someone is standing by and maintaining constant contact with the person in the confined space. Gas levels should be measured prior to entry and monitored continuously when in the confined space. Always wear a properly fitted harness that is attached to a rescue tripod.

4. Reduce the Risk Of Potential Fire
Flash fires can happen when agitating and pumping manure. Reduce the risk by not allowing smoking or open flames near the area where manure is being handled. In addition, turn off electrical power to any non-ventilation equipment and extinguish any pilot lights or other ignition sources in the building.

5. Avoid the Temptation to Rescue
If someone is overcome by gas exposure, do not enter the area to rescue them. Follow the farm’s emergency action plan and call 911 immediately for rescue assistance.

SHIC Wean-to-Harvest Biosecurity Program Moving Forward

SHIC, along with the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) a non-profit organization established in the 2014 Farm Bill to build public-private partnerships that fund bold research addressing big food and agriculture challenges, and Pork Checkoff, joined together to fund a Wean-to-Harvest Biosecurity Program to be implemented over the next two years. Phase 1 involved identifying subject matter experts and assembling task forces with the responsibility of establishing research priorities. Now in Phase 2, SHIC, FFAR, and Pork Checkoff are soliciting proposals to investigate cost-effective, innovative technologies, protocols, or ideas to implement biosecurity during the wean-to-harvest phase of production. Proactively enhancing wean-to-harvest biosecurity will help control the next emerging disease in the US pork industry and improve US swine herd health, all part of SHIC’s mission including analysis of swine health data and targeted research to benefit the US pork industry.

Priorities for the research proposals reflect input from key industry stakeholders recruited to join the SHIC Wean-to-Harvest Biosecurity Program Site Task Force and Transport Task Force. These experts come from allied industry, academia, veterinary practice, and organizations involved in pork production. Collectively, their experience and interest reflect contemporary issues related to wean-to-harvest biosecurity. Working at a rapid pace, each Task Force has met virtually several times to develop and refine priorities for the research proposals now requested.

“Task force members came together, working efficiently and effectively to identify priorities for wean-to-harvest biosecurity,” remarked SHIC Associate Director Megan Niederwerder. “SHIC appreciates the time and service of each task member to provide valuable insight on how to best fill this gap in pork production biosecurity.”

Research priorities focus on site and transportation biosecurity and cover three areas – bioexclusion for preventing disease introduction on the farm, biocontainment for preventing disease spread from the farm to reduce risk to neighboring facilities, and transportation biosecurity for preventing disease movement from markets and other first points of concentration back to the farm. “We are seeking novel tools across all three areas for a comprehensive biosecurity approach,” explained SHIC Executive Director Paul Sundberg.

With a pool of approximately $2.3 million available for the research, proposals are capped at $200,000 but individual proposals may be higher with sufficient justification for a project that will be unique, high impact, and have industry-wide benefit. The proposal template and instructions for completion and submission can be found at The deadline for proposal submission is 5:00 PM CDT, December 16, 2022.

Site Biosecurity Research Priorities
The Site Task Force recommends an industry-wide assessment to define the current bioexclusion standards and protocols applied to prevent the predominant pathogen introduction routes in the wean-to-harvest phase. They envision the work including an estimate of degree of implementation nationally and regionally, to characterize the breadth and variation of currently implemented baseline practices.

In addition to this assessment, the Site Task Force identified four priorities:
    Personnel biocontainment and bioexclusion - implementation and compliance incentives; personnel and equipment traceability; alternatives to shower-in/shower-out facilities and protocols; biocontainment or bioexclusion engineering controls; and innovative ways to ensure implementation of protocols and policies

    Facility biocontainment and bioexclusion – identification of biosecurity-effective and cost-effective options for retrofitting or renovating current production site designs; novel biosecurity-effective and cost-effective methods for preventing aerosolized pathogen introduction; decreasing aerosol pathogen dispersal; and feasibility of scheduling deliveries within networks relative to biosecurity status

    Site mortalities – investigation of innovative engineering or facility design solutions for preventing pathogen spread through mortality movements; and exploration of containment materials, technologies, and equipment to reduce contamination of the environment

    Equipment, environmental and supply biocontainment and bioexclusion – investigation of novel, less-labor and less-time intensive technologies and/or protocols for cleaning and disinfection of pens, barns and/or equipment; point-of-care diagnostic assays or other novel contamination sensing technologies; and sampling design for determining if pens, equipment, or supplies are contaminated or disinfected

Transportation Biosecurity Research Priorities
    Biosecurity of truck driver – identification and mitigation of pathways for pathogen introduction or movement from driver activities; investigation and validation of innovative ways to cost-effectively clean and disinfect nonpig contact areas of the truck; and investigation of innovative facility designs that inherently increase biosecurity during pig loading

    Efficiency of truck washing – investigation of innovative ideas to increase throughput in truck wash facilities and cost-effective technologies that can be applied to existing trailer designs and configurations to improve ease of cleaning and disinfection; investigation of sampling and testing strategies for tractors and trailers; and new technologies for sensing contamination or measuring effective disinfection of transport equipment

    Alternatives to fixed truck wash facilities - design or demonstration of deployable techniques for cleaning and disinfection of trucks; mobile systems or temporary structures for interior trailer cleaning and disinfection with and without water.

    Biosecurity at first points of concentration – investigation and validation of innovative techniques and/or technologies that can be applied at the unloading docks at markets, packing plants, and other first points of concentration, including entry and exit to these sites, to decrease the pathogen load and the opportunity for tractors and trailers to transfer pathogens from these facilities back to the farm

Diverse research proposals are encouraged and invited for submission and consideration for funding through this program. Decisions on awards funded and project initiation is anticipated to occur in early 2023.

Educational Opportunities Enhance Cattle Industry Convention Experience

Make plans to attend the 30th annual Cattlemen’s College, sponsored by Zoetis, which precedes the 2023 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show, Feb. 1-3, in New Orleans. This premier education experience draws more than 1,000 attendees every year, and includes two days of learning, idea sharing and networking.

Cattlemen’s College begins Tuesday, Jan. 31 with trending hot topics, the latest in grazing as well as live cattle handling demonstrations. The day’s activities conclude with an evening reception offering an opportunity for everyone to gather with friends and reconnect.

There are 18 sessions and six educational tracks to choose from on Wednesday including reproduction technology, herd health, practical nutrition management, better beef business, sustainable grazing and the latest in genetics. The event concludes with a keynote presentation from Ray Starling, executive advisor for Aimpoint Research.

Prior to joining the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce as general counsel, Starling served as the Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue where he coordinated execution of the Secretary's policy agenda for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Starling focused on regulatory and deregulatory initiatives and acted as a point of contact for stakeholders throughout agriculture and rural communities. He also served as a principal agriculture advisor to the President of the United States at the White House, chief of staff, lead agriculture advisor, and chief counsel for U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, and general counsel when Tillis was Speaker of the House in the North Carolina legislature.

Each year, the Cattlemen’s College agenda is developed based on feedback from producers, and their comments drive the program. One past attendee reflected that, “Cattlemen's College was extremely informative, and I valued the information greatly. I also had a great time at the social events and was able to meet fellow cattle producers from across the country and share experiences."

Cattlemen’s College sessions feature industry leaders tackling innovative topics. Attendees can look forward to hearing about advocacy in action from panelists Brandi Buzzard Frobrose, Debbie Lyons-Blythe and Carrie Mess; learning about the economic benefits of grazing from Myriah Johnson, PhD, Farm Credit Services; understanding cattle behavior with Dean Fish, PhD, and Lily Edwards-Callaway, PhD; experiencing the “Hundred Dollar Difference” with Dusty Abney, PhD, Cargill Animal Nutrition; and learning factors impacting commercial bull selection decisions from Troy Rowan, PhD, University of Tennessee.

With so much information presented, it is nearly impossible to experience all Cattlemen’s College has to offer in person. To make it easier to access content, all sessions will be recorded and available for registered attendees to watch at any time in the future. To register, select the Education Package, which offers the best value and combines admission to the convention and Cattlemen’s College. For more information, visit

Cattle producers attending Cattlemen’s College are eligible for reimbursement through the Rancher Resilience Grant. To apply for a grant to cover registration costs and two nights hotel, visit

Farmers Can Now Make 2023 Crop Year Elections, Enroll in Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs

Agricultural producers can now change election and enroll in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage programs for the 2023 crop year, two key safety net programs offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Signup began Monday, and producers have until March 15, 2023, to enroll in these two programs. Additionally, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has started issuing payments totaling more than $255 million to producers with 2021 crops that have triggered payments through ARC or PLC.  

“It’s that time of year for produces to consider all of their risk management options, including safety-net coverage elections through Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “We recognize that market prices have generally been very good, but if the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, frequent catastrophic weather events and the Ukraine war have taught us anything, it’s that we must prepare for the unexpected. It’s through programs like ARC and PLC that FSA can provide producers the economic support and security they need to manage market volatility and disasters.”

2023 Elections and Enrollment  
Producers can elect coverage and enroll in ARC-County (ARC-CO) or PLC, which provide crop-by-crop protection, or ARC-Individual (ARC-IC), which protects the entire farm. Although election changes for 2023 are optional, producers must enroll through a signed contract each year. Also, if a producer has a multi-year contract on the farm and makes an election change for 2023, they must sign a new contract.   

If producers do not submit their election by the March 15, 2023 deadline, their election remains the same as their 2022 election for crops on the farm.  Farm owners cannot enroll in either program unless they have a share interest in the farm.    

Covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium and short grain rice, safflower seed, seed cotton, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat.   

Web-Based Decision Tools  
In partnership with USDA, the University of Illinois and Texas A&M University offer web-based decision tools to assist producers in making informed, educated decisions using crop data specific to their respective farming operations. Tools include:  
    Gardner-farmdoc Payment Calculator, a tool available through the University of Illinois allows producers to estimate payments for farms and counties for ARC-CO and PLC. 
    ARC and PLC Decision Tool, a tool available through Texas A&M that allows producers to obtain basic information regarding the decision and factors that should be taken into consideration such as future commodity prices and historic yields to estimate payments for 2022.  

2021 Payments and Contracts 
ARC and PLC payments for a given crop year are paid out the following fall to allow actual county yields and the Market Year Average prices to be finalized. This month, FSA processed payments to producers enrolled in 2021 ARC-CO, ARC-IC and PLC for covered commodities that triggered for the crop year.  

For ARC-CO, producers can view the 2021 ARC-CO Benchmark Yields and Revenues online database, for payment rates applicable to their county and each covered commodity. For PLC, payments have triggered for rapeseed and peanuts.

For ARC-IC, producers should contact their local FSA office for additional information pertaining to 2021 payment information, which relies on producer-specific yields for the crop and farm to determine benchmark yields and actual year yields when calculating revenues. 

By the Numbers 
In 2021, producers signed nearly 1.8 million ARC or PLC contracts, and 251 million out of 273 million base acres were enrolled in the programs.  For the 2022 crop year signed contracts surpassed 1.8 million, to be paid in the fall of 2023, if a payment triggers.

Since ARC and PLC were first authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and reauthorized by the 2018 Farm Bill, these safety-net programs have paid out more than $34.9 billion to producers of covered commodities. 

Crop Insurance Considerations  
ARC and PLC are part of a broader safety net provided by USDA, which also includes crop insurance and marketing assistance loans.  

Producers are reminded that ARC and PLC elections and enrollments can impact eligibility for some crop insurance products.  

Producers on farms with a PLC election have the option of purchasing Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) through their Approved Insurance Provider; however, producers on farms where ARC is the election are ineligible for SCO on their planted acres for that crop on that farm.  

Unlike SCO, the Enhanced Coverage Option (ECO) is unaffected by an ARC election.  Producers may add ECO regardless of the farm program election. 

Upland cotton farmers who choose to enroll seed cotton base acres in ARC or PLC are ineligible for the stacked income protection plan (STAX) on their planted cotton acres for that farm.   

Dairy Producers Can Now Enroll for 2023 Signup for Dairy Margin Coverage

Dairy producers can now enroll for 2023 coverage through the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) Program, an important safety net program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that helps producers manage changes in milk and feed prices. Last year, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) took steps to improve coverage, especially for small- and mid-sized dairies, including offering a new Supplemental DMC program and updating its feed cost formula to better address retroactive, current and future feed costs. These changes continue to support producers through this year’s signup, which begins today and ends Dec. 9, 2022.

“Dairy producers are the backbone of many agricultural communities across rural America,” FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux said. “Dairy Margin Coverage provides critical assistance to our nation’s small- and mid-sized dairies, helping make sure they can manage the numerous and often unpredictable uncertainties that adversely impact market prices for milk. This year showed why enrolling in DMC makes good business sense. Early in the year, some economists predicted that DMC would not trigger any payments for the calendar year, but then fast forward to now, when we’re starting to see payments trigger and a return on investment.”  

DMC is a voluntary risk management program that offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed price (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.  

So far in 2022, DMC payments to more than 17,000 dairy operations have triggered for August for more than $47.9 million. According to DMC margin projections, an indemnity payment is projected for September as well. At $0.15 per hundredweight for $9.50 coverage, risk coverage through DMC is a relatively inexpensive investment.

DMC offers different levels of coverage, even an option that is free to producers, aside from a $100 administrative fee. Limited resource, beginning, socially disadvantaged or a military veteran farmers or ranchers are exempt from paying the administrative fee, if requested. To determine the appropriate level of DMC coverage for a specific dairy operation, producers can use the online dairy decision tool. 

Supplemental DMC
Last year, USDA introduced Supplemental DMC, which provided $42.8 million in payments to better help small- and mid-sized dairy operations that had increased production over the years but were not able to enroll the additional production. Supplemental DMC is also available for 2023.

Supplemental DMC coverage is applicable to calendar years 2021, 2022 and 2023.  Eligible dairy operations with less than 5 million pounds of established production history may enroll supplemental pounds.  

For producers who enrolled in Supplemental DMC in 2022, the supplemental coverage will automatically be added to the 2023 DMC contract that previously established a supplemental production history.

Producers who did not enroll in Supplemental DMC in 2022 can do so now. Producers should complete their Supplemental DMC enrollment before enrolling in 2023 DMC. To enroll, producers will need to provide their 2019 actual milk marketings, which FSA uses to determine established production history.

DMC Payments
Additionally, FSA will continue to calculate DMC payments using updated feed and premium hay costs, making the program more reflective of actual dairy producer expenses.  These updated feed calculations use 100% premium alfalfa hay rather than 50%. The benefits of these feed cost adjustments were realized in the recent August 2022 margin payment as current high feed and premium hay costs were considered in payment calculations.

More Information   
In addition to DMC, USDA offers other risk management tools for dairy producers, including the Dairy Revenue Protection (DRP) plan that protects against a decline in milk revenue (yield and price) and the Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) plan, which provides protection against the loss of the market value of livestock minus the feed costs. Both DRP and LGM livestock insurance policies are offered through the Risk Management Agency. Producers should contact their local crop insurance agent for more information.

For more information on DMC, visit the DMC webpage or contact your local USDA Service Center. 

Certified Angus Beef closes the 2022 fiscal year on a high note.

With ranchers continuing to produce high-quality beef at notable marks and consumer demand staying strong, Certified Angus Beef closed its books on the second-highest sales year of record.

The brand’s success is a reflection of an entire community pointed toward providing premium beef, starting with steady supply.

"Angus cattlemen and women remain committed to meeting the demand for the best-tasting and best-sourced beef," says John Stika, president of Certified Angus Beef. "Our diverse, global and growing customer base recognizes the brand’s commitment to quality from the ranch to the plate."

Certified Angus Beef sold 1.234 billion pounds in 54 countries during the 2022 fiscal year. Up 1.6% percent or 19 million pounds from fiscal 2021, the brand celebrates its seventh year reaching more than a billion pounds sold and set a new record sales month with 113.8 million pounds sold in March 2022.  

Demand Supported by Supply
The second-largest supply in the brand’s history, 5.78 million carcasses achieved the brand’s 10 beef quality specifications. The year also marked a record 16.38 million Angus-influenced cattle evaluated for the brand, a 1.7% increase from the previous year. 

Cattlemen’s commitment to increasing high-quality beef supply continues to be rewarded through grid premiums.  

As reported in March, premiums paid by packers to producers for brand-qualifying cattle totaled $182 million annually or $3.5 million per week.  

"While we celebrate the success of the 2022 fiscal year, we are looking ahead to 2023 with a sense of optimism—driven by strong demand for the brand and a sense of realism. We know the challenges facing producers, and ultimately the cattle supply, over the next few years," Stika says. "Moving forward, we will remain focused on what is within our control – growing demand and supporting ranchers as they push forward in targeting the brand to supply customers the high-quality beef they desire."

Beef Sales Stay Strong
Consumer spending patterns encouraged a more typical distribution of beef sales for foodservice, retail and international businesses this year.  

Restaurant dining elevated foodservice to the brand’s second-best year at 405 million pounds, mirroring the previous year’s double-digit gain.  

Following two consecutive years with more than 600 million pounds, grocery store meat departments across the U.S. sold 548.5 million pounds of the Certified Angus Beef ® brand in fiscal 2022. 

While U.S. retail dipped slightly, beef sales by global partners grew.  

Partners outside of the U.S. increased sales to 178.5 million pounds for the year, with three of the top five markets—Canada, Mexico and Taiwan—growing by more than 24%. To complement international growth in these markets, the Middle East, Central America, Dominican Republic and Qatar each experienced their best year with the brand. 

Limits on labor in restaurants and grocery stores, coupled with shoppers seeking prepared and ready-to-cook items, led value-added products to a new annual record. The 40.7 million pounds sold marked a 6.3% increase, with gains in 15 of 23 product categories—especially fully cooked briskets, shaved steak and beef bacon.  

These same partners identified opportunities for ground beef, a versatile and less costly item for menus and retail shoppers. Ground beef sales reached a record 261.7 million pounds, 10.7% above 2021. 

Certified Angus Beef Natural also grew by 7% year over year to 4.7 million pounds.   

"The success of the last 44 years hasn’t come by luck or chance for this brand," says Stika. "It’s been achieved through ranchers’ determination to produce a high-quality product, combined with our partners’ hard work and intentionality to continue to plan, prepare and position themselves and our consumers to be successful."  

Student Leaders Prepare for the 95th National FFA Convention & Expo

FFA members and supporters from across the country will celebrate agriculture and agricultural education next week during the 95h National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis.

This time-honored tradition, hosted by the city of Indianapolis, will be held Oct. 26-29.

More than 60,000 FFA members from the U.S., Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands are expected to participate in the event.

Those attending will participate in general convention sessions hosted at Lucas Oil Stadium, be inspired by their peers as they are recognized for their accomplishments, and hear from keynote speakers. Convention attendees will also explore various career paths at the National FFA Expo, located in the Indiana Convention Center, participate in career success tours, and more.

The fun continues with several entertainment opportunities, including a Wednesday night concert featuring Lauren Alaina and Jimmie Allen and a Thursday night concert with Mickey Guyton and Russell Dickerson, and rodeos on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights.

FFA members and advisors can also take their skills to the next level in student and teacher workshops — hearing from industry leaders, motivational speakers and more — and watch members discuss their agricultural projects on the new Student Showcase Stage.

Service has always been a part of the FFA motto, and it will be front and center at this year’s event as members take part in service projects at the convention center and various sites in Indianapolis. In partnership with Book Pillows of Hope, members will construct more than 1,200 travel book pillows to be donated to schools, hospitals and first responders. In addition, FFA will accept new and gently used children’s books that will be donated with the travel pillows.  

General convention sessions will be aired live on RFD-TV and The Cowboy Channel. FFA members and supporters can tune in and watch gavel-to-gavel coverage of the event. To learn more, visit

The National FFA Organization is a school-based national youth leadership development organization of more than 850,000 student members as part of 8,995 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

USDA Provides Payments of nearly $800 Million in Assistance to Help Keep Farmers Farming

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that distressed borrowers with qualifying USDA farm loans have already received nearly $800 million in assistance, as part of the $3.1 billion in assistance for distressed farm loan borrowers provided through Section 22006 of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The IRA directed USDA to expedite assistance to distressed borrowers of direct or guaranteed loans administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) whose operations face financial risk.

Today’s announcement kicks off a process to provide assistance to distressed farm loan borrowers using several complementary approaches, with the goal of keeping them farming, removing obstacles that currently prevent many of these borrowers from returning to farming, and improving the way that USDA approaches borrowing and servicing. Through this assistance, USDA is focused on generating long-term stability and success for distressed borrowers.

“Through no fault of their own, our nation’s farmers and ranchers have faced incredibly tough circumstances over the last few years,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The funding included in today’s announcement helps keep our farmers farming and provides a fresh start for producers in challenging positions.”

Work has already started to bring some relief to distressed farmers. As of today, over 13,000 borrowers have already benefited from the resources provided under the Inflation Reduction Act as follows:
    Approximately 11,000 delinquent direct and guaranteed borrowers had their accounts brought current. USDA also paid the next scheduled annual installment for these direct loan borrowers giving them peace of mind in the near term.
    Approximately 2,100 borrowers who had their farms foreclosed on and still had remaining debt have had this debt resolved in order to cease debt collections and garnishment relieving that burden that has made getting a fresh start more difficult.

In addition to the automatic assistance already provided, USDA has also outlined steps to administer up to an additional $500 million in payments to benefit the following distressed borrowers:
    USDA will administer $66 million in separate automatic payments, using COVID-19 pandemic relief funds, to support up to 7,000 direct loan borrowers who used FSA’s disaster-set-aside option during the pandemic to move their scheduled payments to the end of their loans.
    USDA is also initiating two case-by-case processes to provide additional assistance to farm loan borrowers. Under the first new process, FSA will review and assist with delinquencies from 1,600 complex cases, including cases in which borrowers are facing bankruptcy or foreclosure. The second new process will add a new option using existing direct loan servicing criteria to intervene more quickly and help an estimated 14,000 financially distressed borrowers who request assistance to avoid even becoming delinquent.

More details on each of the categories of assistance, including a downloadable fact sheet, are available on the Inflation Reduction Act webpage on

Similar to other USDA assistance, all of these payments will be reported as income and borrowers are encouraged to consult their tax advisors. USDA also has resources and partnerships with cooperators who can provide additional assistance and help borrowers navigate the process.

The announcement today is only the first step in USDA’s efforts to provide assistance to distressed farm loan borrowers and respond to farmers and to improve the loan servicing efforts at USDA by adding more tools and relaxing unnecessary restrictions. Additional announcements and investments in assistance will be made as USDA institutes these additional changes and improvements.

This effort will ultimately also include adding more tools and relaxing unnecessary restrictions through assistance made possible by Congress through the IRA. Further assistance and changes to the approach will be made in subsequent phases.

NFU Statement on USDA Debt Relief Announcement

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Rob Larew released the following statement in response to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issuing information on critical new debt relief programs. These programs will help distressed borrowers holding Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans and are primarily funded through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

“Let’s be clear – this debt relief is going to help keep family farms in business, not just for this generation but for generations to come,” said NFU President Rob Larew. “It’s promising to see how USDA is implementing provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act that will help thousands of distressed loan borrowers. Today’s announcement is the result of years of advocacy and leadership and is a big step toward improving the way USDA approaches lending. For farmers and ranchers who have been taking it on the nose the last few years, this is welcome news."

NOAA awards $18.9M for harmful algal bloom research, monitoring

HABs can produce toxins or cause other harmful effects that can damage ecosystems, disrupt our seafood supply, impact economies and threaten human health. Marine and fresh waters of the U.S. are increasingly impacted by HABs, with blooms reported in every state. They cost the U.S. economy millions of dollars each year, and costs from a single major HAB event can reach tens of millions of dollars.

Investments in these projects represent a coordinated effort between NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) and the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) Office within NOAA’s National Ocean Service to advance our nation's ability to observe, monitor, forecast and manage blooms. NOAA's Ocean Acidification Program (OAP), under NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, has also partnered with NCCOS to advance understanding of interactions between acidification and HABs in coastal waters and the Great Lakes.

NCCOS has allocated $16.1 million to fund harmful algal bloom research in fiscal year 2022, including $3.3 million for six new research awards, $10.4 million for 23 continuing awards and $2.4 million for two Community-Directed Spending projects. Four of the new competitive research awards are funded in partnership with NOAA’s OAP. Funded projects will determine interactions between HABs and ocean acidification; establish a U.S. Harmful Algal Bloom Control Technology Incubator; enhance detection of toxins and improve forecasts; and investigate the social and economic impacts of harmful algae.

“Harmful algal blooms and ocean acidification are two issues that impact coastal resources and we need to understand how they interact,” said David Kidwell, director of NOAA’s NCCOS Competitive Research Program. “In addition to better detection methods, we want to continue the development of technologies for controlling HABs, and enhance and improve our forecasting and monitoring abilities. These grants will help with those goals.”

A full list of the new NOAA NCCOS grant awards is available online.

The U.S. IOOS Office has allocated $2.8 million in fiscal year 2022 for pilot projects for the nascent National Harmful Algal Bloom Observing Network and a related Ocean Technology Transition project. Those funds will be distributed across all 11 IOOS Regional Associations for three new and eight continuing projects to enhance the nation’s capacity for monitoring and detection of harmful algal blooms.

The new IOOS HAB projects will focus on expanding and improving HAB observations and testing capabilities; community coordination and service delivery for stakeholders; improving and optimizing HAB forecasts; testing new technology for the detection of HABs; and funding ongoing operation and maintenance of the HAB testbed and existing infrastructure.

“We will continue to enhance our network’s capacity to monitor and detect these blooms using our expertise across regions,” said Carl Gouldman, director of the U.S. IOOS Office. “ We want to push out even further and provide complete end-to-end HAB detection and monitoring systems. These efforts provide critical decision support nationwide using the best data available.”

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