Sunday, November 6, 2022

Friday November 4 Ag News

USDA Designates Four Nebraska Counties as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

This Secretarial natural disaster designation allows the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters through emergency loans. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts. FSA will review the loans based on the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, these counties suffered from a drought intensity value during the growing season of 1) D2 Drought-Severe for 8 or more consecutive weeks or 2) D3 Drought-Extreme or D4 Drought-Exceptional.

Impacted Area: Nebraska
Triggering Disaster: Drought
Application Deadline: June 5, 2023
Primary Counties Eligible: Butler, Dawes, Douglas and Saunders
Contiguous Counties Also Eligible:
Nebraska: Box Butte, Dodge, Polk, Sheridan, York, Cass, Lancaster, Sarpy, Sioux, Colfax, Platte, Seward, Washington    
Iowa: Pottawattamie
South Dakota: Fall River and Oglala Lakota

More Resources
On, the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster Assistance-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help you determine program or loan options. To file a Notice of Loss or to ask questions about available programs, contact your local  USDA Service Center.

Using Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage Insurance to Manage Feed Risk

Jennifer Ifft, Flinchbaugh Agricultural Policy Chair, Associate Professor, Kansas State University
Nov 10, 2022 12:00 PM Central Time

The 2023 deadline for purchasing Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage Insurance (PRF) is December 1. This presentation will begin with a summary of how PRF insurance works and key characteristics that producers need to understand. Examples of how PRF can be used to cover feed expenses during a drought will be shared, as well as an analysis of average payouts to-date in 2022 by drought status.

This webinar is presented by the Center for Agricultural Profitability at the University of Nebraska.  More details and registration at

Sen Blood Requests Details from NDA on Dog & Cat Inspection Program

After responding to the continued concerns of  Nebraskans, Senator Carol Blood who represents District 3 in the Nebraska Legislature, has issued a letter requesting updates from the Department of Agriculture in reference to ongoing concerns that were brought to light in a 2020 Ombudsman Report on operations in the Dog and Cat Inspection Program.

"The Department of Agriculture has an opportunity to do better and after conversations with those involved with the initial complaints and ultimate investigation, it is felt by many that not enough is being accomplished to prevent animal cruelty," stated Senator Blood. "My goal is not to be critical, but to gather a true understanding of what has been accomplished in response to the 2020 report and what are the metrics and goals that will be used moving forward to make sure that nothing of the previous magnitude ever happens, again, in Nebraska," Blood added.

The report was released in October 2020 (link to report provided below). The review from Nebraska's Office of Public Counsel found that the Nebraska Department of Agriculture failed repeatedly to enforce sanctions against commercial dog and cat operators who were bad actors and also failed to refer serious animal abuse and neglect for criminal prosecution.

"It is clear after having discussions with the good stewards within this industry, that the only goals these providers are concerned with is that all Dog and Cat operators are making sure animals at their facilities are receiving humane treatment and care," Blood shared. "This request for updated information will hopefully bring to light to what has been accomplished over the last two years, and also share how we can continue to protect these helpless animals from harm."

More alike than different

This past Wednesday, Iowa cattleman Bill Couser and special guest, Judith de Vor, visited the Iowa Cattle Industry Headquarters.

Judith is a fifth generation dairy farmer from the Netherlands, currently visiting Iowa as part of her international travels as a Nuffield Farming Scholar. Both members of the Global Farmer Network, Bill and Judith have bonded over shared interest in livestock agriculture. Their desire to address the biggest challenges facing agriculture today brought them, quite literally, to the same table in Frankfurt, Germany, and now, Ames, Iowa.

Throughout our conversation, we discussed similarities and differences in agricultural production and governance. We discussed the efficiencies within dairy and cattle production, and how we’re producing more with less. We also discussed how burdensome “red tape” stifles agricultural innovation.

In a global marketplace, we are not insulated from the regulatory action of other nations. Conversations with producers from other states and countries help us to better understand the demand for agricultural production and the nuances of regional and universal issues. And if we take time to listen to one another, we’ll find that we’re more alike than different. Finding opportunities to sit at the same table is needed to develop solutions for the real problems facing farmers and ranchers in the United States, the Netherlands, and around the world.

To learn more about Judith and Dutch agriculture, visit:  

September Pork Exports Continue Upward Trend; Pace Cools for Beef

U.S. pork exports topped year-ago totals for the second consecutive month in September, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). September beef exports were below last year for the first time in 2022, but exports remain on a record pace through the first three quarters of the year.

Growth in Japan, Korea and Caribbean bolsters September pork exports

Pork exports reached 222,202 metric tons (mt) in September, up 1% from a year ago. Export value increased 9% to $664.8 million – the highest since June 2021. Through September, pork exports were 13% below last year at 1.94 million mt, valued at $5.57 billion (down 11%).

September pork exports were once again led by Mexico, though shipments slipped below year-ago volume for the first time since early 2021. Exports rebounded to Japan, strengthened to China/Hong Kong and South Korea, and continued on a record pace to the Caribbean and Colombia.

"It’s very encouraging that U.S. pork exports continue to gain momentum, especially on the value side,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. "Once again we see the importance of market diversification, as the strong September performance was achieved even as the volume shipped to Mexico eased to some degree.”

While headwinds impact beef exports, annual records still within reach

September beef exports totaled 115,487 mt, valued at $890.3 million, down 7% from a year ago in both volume and value. For the first nine months of 2022, beef exports were still 4% above last year at 1.12 million mt. Export value reached $9.12 billion, up 20% and already achieving the second highest total for any calendar year, trailing only the 2021 record ($10.58 billion).

Despite China’s zero-COVID policies that result in travel restrictions and periodic lockdowns in metropolitan areas, September beef exports to China/Hong Kong were still above last year. Shipments also increased year-over-year to the ASEAN region and Caribbean, but declined to Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

While beef exports remain well-positioned to reach new heights in 2022, the September results reflected significant headwinds that have been building for some time.

“Demand for U.S. beef has been extremely resilient, but inflationary pressure on consumers and weakened currencies in key markets have definitely created a more challenging environment,” Halstrom said. “Exports also continue to face logistical challenges, lockdowns in China and mounting inventories in some destinations. Still, it’s hard to view September sales of nearly $900 million as a disappointment, when this would have been an all-time record just 18 months ago. That really drives home what a remarkable year this has been for U.S. beef exports.”

Lamb muscle cut exports rebound in September

Following a down month, September exports of U.S. lamb muscle cuts rebounded to 269 mt, up 175% from last year’s low volume. Export value totaled $1.31 million, up 67%. Through September, lamb muscle cut exports increased 76% to 1,676 mt, valued at $9.9 million (up 68%), led by a near-doubling of exports to the Caribbean.

After Calls for Action Over Dispute on Biotech Corn Exports, USTR Discusses Issue with Mexican Counterpart

Following repeated calls from the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) asking the Biden administration to respond to plans by Mexico to block imports of biotech corn, United States Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai met virtually on Thursday with Mexico’s Secretary of Economy, Raquel Buenrostro. During the meeting, Tai talked about the importance of avoiding a disruption in U.S. corn exports.

“We applaud Ambassador Tai for listening to corn grower leaders and sharing our concerns with the leadership in Mexico,” said NCGA President Tom Haag. “But, given the magnitude of Mexico’s threats and the fact that the embargo is set to be fully implemented by 2024, we need USTR to resolve the impasse as soon as possible by filing a dispute under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).”

The dispute centers around Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s decree that would end imports of corn grown using biotech and certain herbicides by 2024. Biotech corn makes up over 90% of U.S. corn crops. One recent estimate projected a 30% increase in the price of tortillas in Mexico from the embargo.

NCGA has strongly encouraged USTR to file a dispute under the agriculture chapter of USMCA, which calls for cooperation between members on an individual government’s regulation of imports. An op-ed by Haag was recently published in The Hill, a newspaper widely read by Washington policymakers and decision-makers. Corn grower leaders also continue raising the issue with lawmakers and major media outlets.

A USMCA dispute settlement would allow for extensive debate and mediation that could head off a calamitous outcome.

High Diesel Prices Put Strain on Farmers

The average price of diesel is $5.32 per gallon, more than $1.50 above the same time last year. While prices are below the $5.81 peak in June, the high cost of fuel is hitting farmers hard as they navigate the fall harvest season. American Farm Bureau Federation economists analyzed the factors driving up fuel prices in the latest Market Intel report.

A ban on U.S. imports of petroleum from Russia, lower domestic production capacity, and seasonal demand are all contributing to higher costs. Russia provided 20% of the petroleum imported into the U.S. in 2021, but that was halted after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Beyond the impact of Russia, since 2019, domestic diesel production capacity has dropped by 180,000 barrels per day. Several plants closed during the coronavirus pandemic and are not yet back online.

AFBF President Zippy Duvall sent a letter to President Biden today, calling on the administration to bring more domestic supply online, reducing costs to all Americans.

“Our nation’s food supply is driven by diesel,” President Duvall said in the letter. “Every input that arrives on our farms and ranches is transported by a diesel engine, whether that is by boat or barge, rail or truck. Our crops are planted by diesel engines and harvested by diesel engines. High diesel prices are severely impacting our farmers and ranchers, causing increased costs to consumers, and adding to food insecurity.”

National diesel prices are expected to average $4.86 per gallon through the end of the year, according to government projections, and $4.29 per gallon in 2023.

USDA Dairy Products September 2022 Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 1.14 billion pounds, 0.4 percent above September 2021 but 1.0 percent below August 2022. Italian type cheese production totaled 491 million pounds, 3.2 percent above September 2021 and 0.5 percent above August 2022. American type cheese production totaled 443 million pounds, 2.6 percent below September 2021 and 2.3 percent below August 2022. Butter production was 142 million pounds, 1.4 percent below September 2021 and 1.3 percent below August 2022.

Dry milk products (comparisons in percentage with September 2021)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 124 million pounds, down 11.3 percent.
Skim milk powder - 58.5 million pounds, down 18.9 percent.

Whey products (comparisons in percentage with September 2021)
Dry whey, total - 79.0 million pounds, up 5.0 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 95.1 million pounds, down 5.5 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 46.1 million pounds, up 2.9 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons in percentage with September 2021)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 61.0 million gallons, up 9.9 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 36.2 million gallons, up 0.4 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 2.29 million gallons, up 6.7 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 3.72 million gallons, up 3.6 percent.

Growth Energy Sends Letter to Treasury on Action to Slash Aviation Emissions

Today, Growth Energy sent a letter to the U.S. Department of the Treasury on implementation of Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) tax credits for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). In her letter, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor calls on regulators to ensure that policies reflect the most updated and accurate science-based lifecycle carbon assessment (LCA) methods, specifically those in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Technologies (GREET) model.

“Harnessing the U.S. ethanol industry – which at 17.4 billion gallons per year accounts for over 80% of biofuels production capacity in the U.S. - will be necessary to achieve these goals because ethanol is one of the few readily available feedstocks for SAF production,” wrote Skor. “Growth Energy appreciates Treasury’s consideration of this input as it implements the IRA’s tax credit provisions in a manner that ensures the best available science is used to calculate eligibility for and amount of credits.”

Skor’s letter reflects conclusions shared by Growth Energy and other clean energy leaders since the White House first announced its SAF goals. They also reflect the intent of Congress.
“Indeed, several provisions of the IRA mandate use of GREET to calculate the LCA for other transportation fuels, such as hydrogen. Notably, these provisions require the use of GREET for other transportation fuels and hydrogen reference the same definition of ‘lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions’ under the Clean Air Act as the IRA’s SAF provisions. In addition, EPA utilized GREET, along with other models, to implement the RFS program’s major expansion in 2010.  Multiple states that lead the nation on climate change regulation, including California and Oregon, also use GREET for evaluating lifecycle emissions of biofuels,” wrote Skor.
Unlike GREET, the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) which has been adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), does not reflect the latest science.
“Modeling techniques have improved considerably in recent years due both to improvements in the models and improvements in the accuracy of inputs. For example, older LCA models failed to account for the ability of intensification (increasing crop yield) rather than extensification (increasing crop acreage) to meet increases in demand,” she wrote.
“U.S. tax policy should not tie itself to international aviation safety organizations that are far less experienced and sophisticated in biofuels LCA modeling than the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Laboratories,” concluded Skor.

RFA, Allies Urge Congress to Act Swiftly to Avoid Rail Service Shutdown

The Renewable Fuels Association and nearly 200 other organizations representing a broad swath of the agricultural value chain have urged Congress to act quickly to prevent a rail strike and service shutdown on November 19, the deadline for unions and railroads to finalize an agreement. RFA continues to engage in discussions with the Biden administration and congressional leadership in search of a speedy resolution to the ongoing rail labor dispute.

“A strike or lockout combined with existing challenges in the rail system, at our ports, with trucking and with record low water levels on the Mississippi River impacting numerous barge shipments would be catastrophic for the agricultural and broader U.S. economies,” wrote the Agricultural Transportation Working Group and many of its allies, in a letter to congressional leadership. “Congress must act to prevent this from occurring if the parties cannot reach agreement.” The group pointed out that critical inputs and agricultural products such as ammonia shipments could be embargoed as early as November 14, the day Congress returns to session.

“The U.S. ethanol industry is highly reliant on the rail system to get our products to market,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “More than 400,000 workers whose jobs are supported by the ethanol industry are depending on Congress, the Biden administration, the railroads, and the unions to work this out as quickly as possible. If the nation’s trains stop running, the nation’s ethanol biorefineries stop running too.”

The majority of the ethanol produced in the United States—more than 70 percent—is transported via railway across the lower 48 states as well as into Canada and Mexico. In fact, over the last five years, U.S. railroads have transported an average of nearly 395,000 carloads of ethanol per year.

Even before the current labor dispute emerged, ethanol producers were experiencing a significant deterioration in rail service. In comments submitted to the Surface Transportation Board in May, RFA noted that average terminal dwell times were 32 percent above pre-pandemic levels, and the average ethanol unit train dwell time was up 64 percent. The average train speed for ethanol unit trains had decreased 14 percent since the start of 2020, and the rail industry shed 41,000 jobs between November 2018 and January 2022—more than one-fifth of industry employment.

Cooperative Ventures Announces First Investment in Ag Startup

Cooperative Ventures, a venture capital fund formed by North America's leading agricultural cooperatives, today announced its first investment in Sabanto, a hardware and software company on the forefront of developing autonomous capabilities in tractors. Sabanto, founded in 2018, is deploying fully-autonomous machinery performing row crop field operations throughout the U.S.

"We're very enthusiastic about the strategic benefits presented by the Sabanto investment," said GROWMARK Director of Innovation Heather Thompson. "The labor shortage in ag retail is a very real problem. Autonomy presents an exciting solution but adopting autonomous equipment creates a new set of challenges for traditional operations. By partnering with Sabanto, GROWMARK and our FS cooperatives have the advanced opportunity to test and learn the impacts of this cutting-edge technology."

Sabanto is currently focused on retrofitting 60 to 200 horsepower tractors to operate autonomously. Already, Sabanto has proven its ability to automate a variety of row crop field operations, including planting, tillage, spraying, and mowing over thousands of acres throughout the Midwest.

"While many autonomous equipment startups are focused on specialty crops, we believe Sabanto's focus on row crops presents a tremendous opportunity for farmers and our member owners," said CHS Director of Innovation and Sustainability Ben Van Straten. "This truly is an evolution of agriculture with the potential to lower equipment and labor costs for farmers and ag retailers by using smaller tractors that are more fuel efficient while further improving sustainability through less soil compaction."

"Cooperative Ventures' investment is a testament to the importance of autonomy in the future of row crop agriculture. Given the vast network of customers and acres across GROWMARK and CHS, the path to autonomous field operations will certainly be accelerated," remarked Craig Rupp, the CEO of Sabanto.

This first investment by Cooperative Ventures is aligned with the capital fund's core investment areas, or "Fields of Play," to maximize the impact of each investment:  crop production, supply chain, farm business enablement, and sustainability.

Australian Wheat Crop Faces Quality Downgrades

Flooding and excessive rains across key parts of Australia's wheat growing areas have resulted in extensive damage to what was expected to be a record bin-busting high quality crop just a few weeks ago, exacerbating concerns over world food supplies.

According to Reuters, a lower quality crop in Australia, the world's No.2 supplier of the grain, comes as dryness in North America and the Russia-Ukraine war curb global supplies, fuelling red-hot food prices.

While Australia is still on track for a third year of bumper harvest, about half of the crop grown on its eastern grain belt - known for premium hard wheat - is likely to be reduced to animal feed, although the extent of the damage will be known after waters recede, traders, analysts and farmers said.

"There have been some growers who have had total loss ... it's still pretty raw for many people," said Brett Hosking, a grains farmer in southern Victoria sate, who is also the chairman of the farmers body GrainGrowers. "In the next fortnight or so we will have a very clear picture."

Residents in major regional towns across Australia's most populous state are being urged to leave homes as slow-moving flood waters push downstream and the country's fourth major flood crisis this year rolls into a second month.

Large swathes of farmland across Australian states of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria have been inundated with flood waters, damaging wheat and other crops, including potatoes, and delaying sorghum planting.

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