Sunday, December 31, 2023

Friday December 29 Ag News

 Lower Elkhorn NRD Board of Directors Had a Packed Agenda to End 2023

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Board of Directors had a packed agenda to end 2023. Directors were presented the Fiscal Year 2023 Audit, heard numerous monthly and meeting reports, received an update from JEO Consulting Group on the North Fork Elkhorn River WFPO Plan, discussed approving a resolution for a WaterSMART Grant Application, approved an additional Guideline for the Good Cause Variance process, and set the groundwater allocation amounts for 2024 for the Quantity Management Subareas. Finally, they voted on two items relating to LENRD personnel and approved the 2024 meeting schedule.

Acceptance of the Fiscal Year 2023 Audit

Donita Pokorny, with Dana F. Cole & Company LLP, presented the results of the Fiscal Year 2023 audit to the Board Members. The fiscal year audit is an annual requirement for the financial statements of the governmental activities, the business-type activities, and for each major fund of the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District.  This audit is conducted in accordance with auditing standards generally accepted in the United States of America and for standards applicable to Government Auditing Standards.  Donita reviewed pertinent sections of the audit with the Board of Directors and concluded with a report on any compliance matters in accordance with the aforementioned standards.  At the conclusion of her report, the Board approved a motion to accept the Fiscal Year 2023 Audit as presented.

North Fork Elkhorn River WFPO Update by JEO Consulting Group

Andrea Gebhart, Project Manager, and Ann Nissen, Water Resources Engineer, of JEO Consulting Group provided an update on the North Fork Elkhorn River WFPO Plan. Gebhart provided a project overview, a summary of work-to-date, and discussed the timeline for the rest of the project. Nissen discussed the preliminary H&H, or Hydrology and Hydraulics, results. She also talked about stream gage analysis from Pierce, data sources, and showed two models from the geographic focus areas – Pierce and Osmond.

Resolution of WaterSMART Small-Scale Water Efficiency Projects Grant Partnership
The LENRD Board of Directors voted to table a decision on approving Resolution No. 2023-01. Approval of this resolution would indicate the District’s commitment to providing funding, as well as the development and execution of a cooperative agreement for the Bureau of Reclamation WaterSMART Grant for Small-Scale Water Efficiency Projects.

In order to even apply for the grant, LENRD staff need to have an approved and signed Resolution from the Board. In partnership with the McCrometer Company, the grant would provide funding to equip flow meters with remote-read telemetry. The intent is to provide convenience for the producer and help the NRD monitor water use and assist producers with maintaining compliance.

LENRD Policy for Orphaned irrigated Acres Policy Change

The LENRD Board of Directors approved an additional guideline to be used in conjunction with the LENRD’s ‘Good Cause Variance’, granting District staff the authorization to consider a Good Cause Shown Expedited Variance request to utilize an existing irrigation well as a source of irrigation water for orphaned irrigated acres.

The District was presented a situation where a landowner acquired property that currently has certified irrigated acres and has an existing irrigation well on adjacent property. The new owner has asked to use the existing well as a source of irrigation water to continue irrigation activities on the newly purchased property.

Establish 2024 Groundwater Allocations for LENRD Quantity Subareas

The LENRD Board of Directors approved the 2024 allocations amounts for the LENRD Quantity Management Subareas:

Eastern Madison County Quantity Management Subarea
    18 inches per irrigated acre for gravity/flood systems
    13 inches per irrigated acre for subsurface drip irrigation systems
    14 inches per irrigated acre for all other irrigation systems

Wayne County Quantity Management Subarea
    17 inches per irrigated acre for gravity/flood irrigation systems
    12 inches per irrigated acre for subsurface drip irrigation systems
    13 inches per irrigated acre for all other irrigation systems

Other Happenings in the Lower Elkhorn NRD

    The LENRD received nearly 300 applications for Standard Variances during the month of November 2023. A preliminary summary of the final point totals will be presented for consideration to the Board no sooner than January 11, 2024, or at an alternate date as determined by the Board Chairman and General Manager.
    Applications for the Conservation Tree Program are available on our website and in the office. The deadline to order trees is February 23, 2024.
    The NDEE is offering free nitrate sample kits for private drinking water wells. These kits are only available until January 31, 2024.
    The LENRD is conducting a study to better understand the types of hazards the community is most impacted by, and the damage it has caused, as part of the region’s Hazard Mitigation Plan update process. The questionnaire is available to take on our website and social media platforms until January 22, 2024.
    The University of Nebraska-Lincoln released a web-based nitrogen management tool for corn growers. Additional information is on our website.

To learn more about the 12 responsibilities of the Nebraska’s NRDs and how your local District can work with you and your community to protect your natural resources, visit and sign up for our monthly emails. The next Board of Directors meeting will be Thursday, January 25, 2024, at the LENRD office in Norfolk at 7:30 p.m. and on Facebook Live.


– Samantha Daniel, NE Extension Educator

While daytime temperatures have been mild so far this December, bitter cold and negative wind chills are undoubtedly on the horizon. This is a good time to consider how we can best protect our cattle since livestock performance and survival is affected by wind and temperature.

The lower critical temperature, or the threshold at which cattle must use energy to maintain their body temperature, is 19 degrees F for cattle with a dry hair coat, and 53 degrees F for cows with a wet hair coat. Providing animals shelter in bad weather can help keep coats dry and limit wind chill effects, both of which will work to minimize the impact of the cold.  Shelter can also help in other ways. Calving success can increase by 2% behind a windbreak according to a Kansas study. In Montana feedlots during severe winters, cattle behind windbreaks gained 10.6 lbs. more than cattle that did not have windbreaks.

Cold stress increases a cow’s energy requirement which, if not met, can pull down body condition.  A general rule of thumb we can use is that for every degree of cold stress a cow faces, they increase their energy requirements by 1%. In extreme cold, even high-quality hay can’t meet the increased energy demands. Corn is a great high energy option, but we need to be careful to work it up in a diet slowly. Pair it with free choice hay for fill and make sure not to give too much at once to animals whose rumen hasn’t shifted yet.

Finally, it is important to remember that lactating cows have a much greater energy requirement than pregnant cows. Because of this, cold stress can reduce a lactating cow’s body condition more rapidly, so it is advisable to increase their energy intake before loss of condition is observed. If you have questions about adjusting animal diets to address cold weather stress, your local extension office is a great place to start.

Smithfield Foods Donates More than 64,000 Hams to Fight Hunger During the Holidays

Smithfield Foods donated 64,576 hams in December to food banks in six states through its Helping Hungry Homes® hunger relief program.

“Millions of people in the U.S. don’t have enough food to eat, and this is especially tragic during the holiday season,” said Steve Evans, vice president of community development for Smithfield Foods. “We’re honored to be able share these hams with our neighbors in Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin, where more than 13,000 of our employees live, work and raise their families.”

Smithfield delivered hams with a net weight of more than 286,000 pounds to the following food banks in the Feeding America network between Dec. 15 and 20:
    Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin – Milwaukee, WI: 8,760 hams (37,000 lbs.)
    Feeding South Dakota – Sioux Falls, SD: 8,400 hams (35,000 lbs.)  
    Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri – Columbia, MO: 8,584 hams (37,700 lbs.)
    Food Bank for the Heartland – Omaha, NE: 7,152 hams (30,700 lbs.)
    Food Bank of Iowa – Des Moines, IA – 8,936 hams (38,000 lbs.)
    Food Bank of Lincoln – Lincoln, NE: 5,396 hams (30,500 lbs.)
    Second Harvest Community Food Bank – St. Joseph, MO: 9,744 hams (42,800 lbs.)
    Utah Food Bank – Salt Lake City, UT: 7,604 hams (34,500 lbs.)

According to Feeding America, 44 million people in the U.S. face hunger, including 13 million children, and 100% of U.S. counties lack access to enough food. In 2022, 49 million people turned to food assistance for extra help.

Smithfield also recently made several significant food donations to aid in hunger relief during the holidays. In December, the company distributed 7,300 free Smithfield Spiral Quarter Hams to individuals and families in the St. Charles, Illinois, area, and donated more than 32,000 pounds of protein to the Northern Illinois Food Bank. Smithfield also held a “Hams for the Holidays” food distribution event in Smithfield, Virginia, distributing 1,000 free Smithfield Hickory Smoked Spiral Sliced Hams and holiday sides from Kroger to neighbors facing hunger in the local community.

In November, Smithfield donated 65,000 pounds of protein to Feeding Southwest Virginia and the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, and donated 50,000 pounds of ham, bacon, sausage and other products during the Mayflower Marathon to benefit the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank and Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore.

Smithfield has been committed to fighting hunger and food insecurity since 2008. The company’s hunger relief program, Helping Hungry Homes®, has provided hundreds of millions of servings of protein all 50 U.S. states, as well as in Poland, Romania and Mexico. In 2022, Smithfield donated nearly 25 million servings of protein to food banks, disaster relief efforts and community outreach programs across the U.S. and has pledged to donate 200 million servings of protein by 2025.

For more information about Smithfield’s programs to support local communities, please visit  

November Prices Received Index Down 0.1 Percent

The November Prices Received Index 2011 Base (Agricultural Production), at 113.2, decreased 0.1 percent from October and 15 percent from November 2022. At 99.8, the Crop Production Index is down 3.0 percent from last month and 20 percent from the previous year. The Livestock Production Index, at 134.0, increased 0.6 percent from October, but decreased 6.7 percent from November last year. Producers received lower prices during November for corn, hogs, cattle, and turkeys but higher prices for market eggs, soybeans, strawberries, and lettuce. In addition to prices, the volume change of commodities marketed also influences the indexes. In November, there was decreased marketing of soybeans, grapes, wheat, and dry beans but increased monthly movement for corn, cattle, milk, and cotton.

November Prices Received by Farmers

Crop production: The November index, at 99.8, is 3.0 percent lower than October and 20 percent lower than November 2022. The grain & oilseed, fruit & tree nut, and other crop index decreases more than offset the vegetable & melon index increase.

Grain and oilseed: The November index, at 88.9, is down 5.4 percent from October and 20 percent from November 2022. Feed grain and food grain index decreases more than offset the oilseed index increase.

Feed grain: The November index, at 78.2, decreased 5.3 percent from last month and 28 percent from a year ago. The corn price, at $4.66 per bushel, is down 27 cents from last month and $1.83 from November 2022.

Food grain: At 102.8, the index for November decreased 3.5 percent from the previous month and 18 percent from a year ago. The November price for all wheat, at $6.53 per bushel, is 45 cents lower than October and $2.62 lower than November 2022. The November price for rice, at $17.70 per cwt, is 10 cents higher than October but 60 cents lower than November 2022.

Oilseed: At 103.6, the index for November increased 2.2 percent from October but decreased 7.4 percent from November 2022. The soybean price, at $13.00 per bushel, is 30 cents higher than October but $1.00 lower than November a year earlier.

Other crop: The November index, at 100.2, is down 7.6 percent from the previous month and 11 percent from November 2022. The all hay price, at $195.00 per ton, is down $6.00 from October and $43.00 from November 2022. At 72.4 cents per pound, the price for upland cotton is 2.7 cents lower than October and 7.7 cents lower than November 2022.

Livestock production: The index for November, at 134.0, increased 0.6 percent from the previous month but decreased 6.7 percent from November 2022. Poultry & egg and dairy index increases more than offset the lower meat animal index.

Meat animal: At 139.5, the November index decreased 2.2 percent from the previous month but increased 12 percent from a year earlier. At $57.50 per cwt, the November hog price is $2.90 lower than October and $9.20 lower than a year earlier. The November beef cattle price of $180.00 per cwt is $2.00 lower than the previous month but $29.00 higher than November 2022.

Dairy: The index for November, at 108.0, is up 0.5 percent from the previous month but down 15 percent from November a year ago. The November all milk price of $21.70 per cwt is 10 cents higher than October but $3.70 lower than November 2022.

Poultry and egg: At 145.5, the November index increased 9.2 percent from October but decreased 31 percent from November 2022. The November market egg price, at $1.61 per dozen, is 68.3 cents higher than October but $1.82 lower than November 2022. The November broiler price, at 66.5 cents per pound, is 1.6 cents higher than October but 6.4 cents lower than a year ago. At 65.2 cents per pound, the November turkey price is 9.8 cents lower than the previous month and 61.8 cents lower than November 2022.

Food Commodities: The index, at 127.4, increased 4.2 percent from the previous month but decreased 11 percent from November 2022.

November Prices Paid Index Down 0.4 Percent

The November Prices Paid Index for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW), at 138.4, is down 0.4 percent from October and 0.3 percent from November 2022. Lower prices in November for feeder cattle, diesel, feed grains, and supplements more than offset higher prices for nitrogen, concentrates, repairs, and complete feeds.


The average price received by farmers for corn during November 2023 in Iowa was $4.74 per bushel according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Agricultural Prices report. This was 22 cents below the October price and $1.76 below November 2022.

The November 2023 average price received by farmers for soybeans, at $13.20 per bushel, was 60 cents above the October price but $1.00 below the November 2022 price.

All hay prices in Iowa averaged $182.00 per ton in November. This was $12.00 above the October price and $10.00 above the November 2022 price. The November 2023 alfalfa hay price, at $189.00, was $4.00 above the previous month and $13.00 above November 2022. The average price received for other hay during November was $149.00 per ton. This was $2.00 above the October price but $3.00 below November last year.

The average price for milk was $19.60 per cwt, unchanged from the October price but $4.90 below November 2022.

Navigating swine winter manure application to maximize fertility and protect water quality

Crop field where liquid swine manure has been injected.AMES, Iowa – As winter approaches, the challenges associated with the application of manure become more pronounced. Adopting best practices that maximize nutrient utilization and safeguard our water resources is crucial. Daniel Andersen, associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State University, offers some critical considerations for swine manure application in the winter.

"Here are five areas to consider when making application decisions in the winter," he said. "The examples and reminders add additional information."

Compliance with regulations
In 2009, the Iowa Legislature passed a bill about the winter application of manure on snow-covered and frozen ground. The law applies to liquid manure from confinement feeding operations with more than 500 animal units in confinement.

This law does not apply to the following.
 • manure from open feedlots.
 • dry manure (frozen manure is not dry manure.)
 • liquid manure from small animal feeding operations (confinements less than 500 animal units.)
 • liquid manure that can be appropriately injected or incorporated on the same date of application.

Iowa prohibits liquid manure application from confinement operations with more than 500 animal units on snow-covered ground from Dec. 21 to April 1, and frozen ground from Feb. 1 to April 1.

The "winter manure application" rules have two parts: a date and condition. Both components must be true for liquid and slurry manure application to be prohibited. So, while the calendar date of Dec. 21 is quickly approaching, it is unlikely that the ground will be snow-covered (defined as 1 inch of snow or 0.5 inches of ice on the soil surface). As a result, liquid and slurry manure application would still be allowed until snow cover occurs.

DNR will allow for emergency applications when slurry manure applications are otherwise prohibited. If you must apply for manure under the emergency exemption, you must contact DNR before making a land application. You must also report certain facts and follow a certain protocol to meet the emergency exemption requirements.

Other winter manure application technicalities

If your operation is required to follow the Master Matrix, then make sure you comply with the land application for the Matrix since you may have gotten points for injecting or incorporating manure. If you need to winter apply, injection or incorporation may not be possible. If this change is made, pay extra attention to manure application setback distances required for surface application.

Understanding snow conditions

Applying manure directly onto snow-covered fields poses a significant risk of nutrient runoff when the snow melts. Especially if melt will occur quickly. Instead, wait to apply until after snowmelt or choose alternative manure management strategies. Applying manure on frozen ground is also prohibited, as the frozen surface inhibits absorption, increasing runoff potential. Timing is key; in an emergency situation, apply manure when limited snow is present and quick melts aren't expected. Slow melting encourages water infiltration and absorption of manure nutrients into the soil. If necessary, choose fields with lesser snow accumulation that are relatively flat. Increase buffer or setback distances around field edges to reduce the risk of nutrient transport from the field.

Thoughtful land use choices

Assessing land use choices is pivotal in winter manure management. Avoid applying manure on steep slopes or areas prone to poor drainage, as these increase the likelihood of runoff. If applying in winter, for emergency, fields with a phosphorus index of less than two are required, and the field needs to be designated in your manure plan as an emergency application field. Choose fields with good water-holding capacity to minimize the risk of nutrient loss. Additionally, consider the implementation of cover crops, which capture excess nutrients and protect the soil from erosion during winter months. Residue cover offers three main benefits – it helps hold the soil in place, slows down runoff, reduces erosion, and acts as a filter to help hold dislodged soil and manure particles. However, residue can also capture snowfall and hold it in the field. While it takes approximately 10" of snow to make an inch of water, ice-crusted soil water intake is often slow.

Protecting water quality

Prioritize water quality by maintaining setback distances from water bodies and sensitive areas. Implementing vegetative buffers helps prevent nutrient runoff into waterways. Incorporating manure into the soil soon after application is another effective strategy, reducing the risk of surface runoff and enhancing crop nutrient absorption. Where possible, maintain grass or cover crop buffers downslope of manure-applied areas to slow any runoff and ensure solids in the water settle out before trickling away. Leave a setback area around field borders to reduce the risk of manure nutrients leaving the field.

In conclusion, Andersen said that adopting these best practices for manure application in the winter will enhance nutrient management and contribute to protecting our water resources.

"While research has consistently shown greater potential risk of nutrient loss from winter manure application, research studies demonstrate loss is often related to quick snow melt or rainfall on frozen soils," he said. "Given current Iowa conditions with no snowpack and low chances of rainfall, the late risk of nutrient loss is lessened this year. However, it's important to stay informed of the forecast and be proactive to changing weather conditions to help ensure a sustainable and environmentally responsible approach to winter manure application."

Friday, December 29, 2023

Thursday December 28 Ag News

Court Blocks Enforcement of a Speech-Related Sanction Imposed by the
Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District Against Elected Director Melissa Temple

Yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of a speech-related sanction imposed by the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) against Director Melissa Temple.

The sanction blocked by the Court’s ruling was imposed by the LENRD to punish Temple for speaking to a local newspaper about an internal complaint she previously filed against another elected Director. The sanction stripped Temple of her right to obtain certain travel reimbursements and per diems guaranteed by state law and LENRD policy. The preliminary injunction will remain in effect pending a final decision on the constitutionality of the sanctions imposed against Temple.

The preliminary injunction comes at the request of the University of Nebraska College of Law’s First Amendment Clinic, which represents Director Temple. The Clinic filed a lawsuit against the LENRD in October alleging that sanctions imposed by the LENRD violate Temple’s rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and were adopted in violation of the Nebraska Open Meetings Act.

The ruling signals that Director Temple is likely to succeed in litigating her claim that the LENRD’s sanction stripping her of certain reimbursements and per diems violates the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. As the Court noted, “the LENRD simply does not have the power, under Nebraska law and the United States Constitution, to withhold Temple's reimbursement and per diem payments.”

The injunction entered by the Court is an important first step in fully restoring Director Temple’s rights as a duly elected representative,” said Daniel Gutman, Director of the First Amendment Clinic.

“I am encouraged by the Court’s decision and am grateful for the members of my community who have shown me unwavering support. This decision is a reminder that elected boards cannot simply silence those who speak up and try to hold government to a higher standard,” said Temple.

Litigation will continue as Temple seeks a judicial decision declaring the sanctions imposed against her by the LENRD unconstitutional and a permanent injunction overturning the sanctions.

LENRD Statement on Court Order

Liz Lienemann - LENRD Communications Specialist

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District has been informed that an order has been released by Judge John M. Gerrard, Senior United States District Judge for the District of Nebraska regarding the motion for a preliminary injunction filed by plaintiff Melissa Temple, against the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District.  The District has no other comment on the matter at this particular time other than to state that we respect the opinion of the Court and that we will comply with the terms of the order.

 This matter had been covered by various state and local media outlets, but the degree of accuracy on this coverage varies greatly.  Some media outlets accurately report that the District is preliminarily enjoined from enforcing the sanction relative to reimbursement for out of district travel expenses, and that the sanction which removed Director Temple from all committee assignments may remain intact.  However, some news articles have suggested that ALL of Director Temple’s rights as an NRD Director are preliminarily enjoined. This statement is inaccurate. With regard to Director Temple’s subcommittee assignments, the Court found, “It does not offend the Constitution to limit Temple's ability to sit on subcommittees. The LENRD may constitutionally execute this sanction.” As a result and as previously stated, the District will comply with the Order and restore only those rights and responsibilities required by the Order at this time, which does not include subcommittee assignments.

Eastern Nebraska Corn and Soybean Expo

The Fremont Corn Expo and the Nebraska Soybean Day and Machinery Expo into one expo - the Eastern Nebraska Corn and Soybean Expo. The expo will focus on both crops and will rotate between Saunders and Dodge county locations each year.

The 2024 expo will take place on Thursday, January 25 at the University of Nebraska Eastern Nebraska Research, Extension and Education Center (ENREEC near Mead, NE) located at 1071 County Road G, Ithaca, NE. The program will kick off at 8:30 a.m. and will finish up at 3:00 p.m.

The event opens with coffee, doughnuts and the opportunity to view equipment and exhibitor booths at 8:30 a.m. Speakers start at 9:10 a.m.

Aaron Nygren, Nebraska extension educator says, “The Eastern Nebraska Corn and Soybean Expo will assist producers in planning for next year’s growing season. We hope you come and learn from a variety of speakers and vendors about important topics for corn and soybean production in 2024.”

This program is sponsored by Nebraska Extension in the university’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Nebraska Corn Board, and the Nebraska Soybean Board.

Mike Zuzolo, President Global Commodity Analytics & Consulting LLC is the keynote speaker. He will speak on “Navigating 2024 Commodity Markets—Funds vs. Fundamentals”. His presentation will include: Assessing 2024 Prices For Grains & Cattle - Look At Top 3-5 Drivers; Factors To Focus Upon - U.S. & Global S/D Fundamentals (Micro-Conditions) vs. Funds & Investment Flow Drivers (Macro-Conditions); and Project 2024 “Overvalue” & “Undervalue” Levels For Corn/Soybeans/Cattle Through March 31.

Other timely topics include: A Look Back at 2023 and a Look Ahead into 2024, Eric Hunt, Nebraska Extension Educator of Agricultural Meteorology; Corn and Soybean Disease Update, Tamra Jackson-Ziems & Dylan Mangel, Nebraska Extension Plant Pathologists; Pros and Cons of a Precision Sprayer for Detecting Weeds and Spray Herbicide in Real Time for Weed Management in Corn and Soybean, Amit Jhala, Nebraska Extension Weed Management Specialist; and Drone Spraying, Terraplex Ag.
Updates will also be provided by the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Soybean Board, Nebraska Corn Growers Association and Nebraska Soybean Association.

Producers can visit with representatives from a variety of ag related companies during a 40-minute break at 10:00 a.m.

Complimentary noon lunch will be served.

Registration is available the day of the expo at the door. For more information about the program or exhibitor information, call 402-624-8030 or e-mail Vendor spots are available. Information online at: There is no registration fee.

I-29 Moo University to present “Inflation: How It Effects Your Bottom Line?” webinar on Jan. 24

The I-29 Moo University 2024 Dairy Webinar Series continues Wednesday, Jan. 24 from 12 noon to 1 p.m. CDT. The webinar will feature a discussion on how inflation effects your dairy’s bottom line with Dr. Chad Hart.

Dr. Chad Hart is an Ag Economics professor at Iowa State University. He served as the U.S. Policy and Insurance Analyst with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) and a Scientist with CARD. For FAPRI, He was responsible for directing econometric and modeling efforts for the crop insurance component of the FAPRI modeling system. For CARD, he served in multiple roles, concluding as the head of the Bio renewables Policy Division and examined the interactions between the agricultural and energy sectors. He will discuss how inflation effects the commodity market, the value of the dollar in world trade, world and domestic consumption plus the cost of ag inputs.

There is no fee to participate in the webinar; however, registration is required at least one hour before the webinar. Register online at:

For more information, contact: in Iowa, Fred M. Hall, 712-737-4230; in Minnesota, Jim Salfer, 320-203-6093; or in South Dakota, Patricia Villamediana, 605-688-4116.

I-29 Moo University is a consortium of Extension dairy specialists from the land-grant universities in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The I-29 Moo University is a multi-state learning collaboration and connects extension dairy staff with the dairy community to share research, information and management practices through workshops, webinars, e-newsletters, podcasts, and on-farm tours.  For more information about the I-29 Moo University Collaboration and programs visit  

Biofuels Vision Solidified for Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley is now the second candidate currently campaigning in Iowa for the Republican nomination to take a positive position on all eight topics vital to the future of Iowa farmers and biofuels producers. Haley was recently asked by a voter about the battle over carbon intensity scoring and she pledged to look into the issue and respond. A few days later Haley issued a statement supporting the U.S. Argonne National Laboratory GREET model over a European model that unfairly discriminates against farm products.

“Amb. Haley has shown she is dedicated to listening to Iowa farmers, learning and educating herself about the promise biofuels hold for the future,” stated Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Vice President Brad Wilson, the president/general manager of Western Iowa Energy, a biodiesel producing company, headquartered in Wall Lake, Iowa. “We appreciate her support on the key issues facing farmers and biofuels producers. With the right leadership, the Midwest can play a prominent role in meeting America’s energy needs.”

“We commend Nikki Haley for showing her support for biofuels like biodiesel, and in particular for standing up for the Renewable Fuel Standard, which is one of the most successful energy policies in U.S. history,” said Grant Kimberley, Senior Director of Market Development for the Iowa Soybean Association and Executive Director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board. “It’s vital that the person serving as president understands the contributions that biofuels make not only to Iowa’s economy and farm families, but to the nation at large through a cleaner, more diverse energy supply produced here at home.”

“We know ethanol is at the forefront of the fuel market as a leader in sustainability, that’s why the support of the U.S. Argonne National Laboratory GREET model is of such importance by presidential candidates like Nikki Haley,” said Jolene Riessen, a farmer from Ida Grove and the Iowa Corn Growers Association President. “By incorporating a fairer playing field when it comes to renewable fuels, we can gain the recognition we deserve as farmers for producing America’s homegrown, more affordable, readily available fuel option – ethanol.”  

While Iowa is home to first-in-the-nation caucuses, it is also the leading state in biofuel production. In 2022, Iowa produced 4.5 billion gallons of ethanol and 349 million gallons of biodiesel. Those production levels accounted for nearly $7.2 billion of Iowa’s gross domestic product, generated $3.5 billion of income for Iowa households and supported more than 57,000 jobs throughout the Iowa economy.

Haley follows Gov. Ron DeSantis in adopting a biofuels vision as they campaign for the Republican nomination. As of today, all Republican candidates who are actively campaigning in Iowa support a growing role for biofuels and a permanent national year-round E15 fix, while opposing laws and regulations that directly or indirectly mandate electric vehicle (EV) purchases. Information on all eight priority issues and where candidates stand can be found at:  

“While we are excited that two candidates have taken positive positions on all eight of our priority issues, there is still time for other candidates to join them prior to the First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses on January 15,” said Wilson.

Biofuels Vision 2024 is a coalition of Iowa organizations and citizens tracking candidates’ stances on eight issues vital to the future of biofuels and the Iowa economy. The coalition does not endorse or rank candidates.

From Survey to Solutions: ChopLocal's Growth Shaped by Industry Insights

The direct-to-consumer meat industry is making strides, highlighted by findings from ChopLocal’s recent survey, which was completed by 332 meat businesses across 46 states in the summer of 2023. This annual survey not only reveals evolving trends, sales volumes, and marketing techniques embraced by livestock producers selling meat directly to consumers but also shapes ChopLocal’s marketplace and educational content.

Positive changes since 2022 include an increase in average sales, an increase in producers selling USDA inspected retail cuts, and reduced difficulty finding harvest appointments at small meat processors.

“This aligns with the conversations we’ve had anecdotally over the past year,” says Katie Olthoff, ChopLocal co-founder. “Producers and processors report that the Covid-era rush to book locker appointments 12-24 months in advance has eased.”

Survey findings indicate an increase in the percentage of direct-to-consumer producers selling USDA inspected retail cuts—from 65% in 2022 to 75% in 2023. Moreover, producers are increasingly adopting new technologies and distribution methods. In 2023, 55% operated an online store, up slightly from 53% in 2022. Particularly noteworthy was the surge in producers shipping meat directly to customers, rising from 9% in 2022 to 25% in 2023.

These shifts are correlated with higher meat sales. Producers with an online store recorded an average of $104,715 in sales—41% higher than those without an e-commerce presence. Additionally, those shipping USDA cuts saw a significant increase, averaging $147,143 in sales, more than double the volume of those without an e-commerce and shipping program.

Despite these positive trends, producers continue to emphasize the importance of finding new customers in order to grow their business. Nearly all use social media, with Facebook page usage staying consistent at around 88% while Instagram usage increased from 49% in 2022 to 59% in 2023. There was also a 9-point increase in Facebook group usage, now at 30%.

Marketing channels shifted slightly for the most successful farms (selling over $200,000 in meat direct-to-consumer annually) with 87% of those farms using email marketing, compared to 61% overall.

The most successful farms also report a higher level of comfort with marketing their meat. Only 18% of the farms with less than $100,000 in sales report a very high level of confidence in their marketing compared to 42% with over $100,000 in sales.

These survey insights directly influence ChopLocal's educational initiatives. Awarded a USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Farmers Market Promotion Program grant in 2022, ChopLocal initiated a series of free webinars on meat marketing, e-commerce, and shipping. These resources are now available on-demand at In 2024, the organization will continue offering free webinars along with a specialized course focused on optimizing e-commerce stores for meat sellers.

The first webinar of the year, which will cover the Value Added Producer Grant, will be held on January 16, and the inaugural mEat Commerce Essentials course will kick off February 1. Interested producers should sign up for the ChopLocal email newsletter at for more information.

"Our goal is to bolster sales for producers by enhancing their confidence in marketing and shipping meat," says Olthoff.

Founded in 2020 by Olthoff and fellow Iowa farmer Jared Achen, ChopLocal not only provides educational programming but also operates an online farmers market for meat at The platform decreases the barriers to entry for farmers interested in selling meat online, and assists with customer acquisition. is home to approximately 60 farms and butcher shops in 20 states, and experienced double the sales volume in 2023 compared to the previous year.

“As farmers ourselves, we know how difficult it is to juggle all aspects of the farm business,” says Achen. “We continue to look for new ways to help producers increase their local meat sales and profitability through technology and collaboration.”

More information about ChopLocal can be found at

Midwest Covers & Grains Conference to be held in Minnesota on March 4

Farmers, landowners and friends of farmers interested in small grains and cover crops can now register to attend PFI’s Midwest Covers & Grains Conference. The event will take place Monday, March 4 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center (1 Civic Center Plaza) in Mankato, Minnesota.

The conference brings together farmers, supply chain buyers and researchers from across the Midwest to promote successful farming with extended rotations and cover crops.

“To me, the most valuable aspect of the conference last year was listening to the knowledgeable and experienced speakers. I've referenced notes I took at the conference several times this year,” says Ross Kurash, who farms in Fort Atkinson, Iowa. “The networking was also great, and I've stayed in contact with several people I met.”

Attendees will have a chance to network with small grains and cover crop buyers and sellers, and the event will have sessions for cover crop beginners and experienced practitioners. PFI’s Midwestern small grains network extends across five states, including Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

Conference schedule:
The conference opens at 8 a.m. with breakfast, followed by two plenary sessions from 9-11:15 a.m. In the first, “Generating Added Value From Cover Crops,” Andy Linder, of Easton, Minnesota, will share how he adds value to cover crops by grazing cattle. He’ll also share his experiences with operating a cover crop seed business and providing custom cover cropping services.

In the second plenary, “Making a Comeback: Small Grains Back in Rotation,” Martin Larsen, of Byron, Minnesota, will share his experiences growing small-grains crops, the value they bring and why crops like oats and rye have become a staple in his rotations.

After lunch and networking time, two blocks of breakout sessions will follow until 3:30 p.m. The conference will conclude with closing remarks from 3:30-3:45 p.m.

A farmer social will immediately follow the conference at Pub 500 (500 S Front St.) in Mankato at 4:15 p.m.

The cost is free for PFI members, or $50 for non-members. Registration is required and includes a continental breakfast and lunch. Pre-registration ends on Feb. 26. After that, walk-ins are welcome unless the venue is at capacity. Register online or call (515) 232-5661.

Full conference details, including the list of sessions and speakers, are available at For questions, contact Taylor Hintch at (515) 232-5661 or

Weekly Ethanol Production for 12/22/2023

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending December 22, ethanol production sprang 3.4% higher to 1.107 million b/d, equivalent to 46.49 million gallons daily and the largest weekly volume since the end of October 2021. Output was 15.0% more than the same week last year and 10.0% above the five-year average for the week. The four-week average ethanol production rate increased 2.3% to 1.082 million b/d, which is equivalent to an annualized rate of 16.59 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks swelled 2.7% to a 35-week high of 23.5 million barrels. Stocks were 4.5% less than the same week last year but 4.0% above the five-year average. Inventories built 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, sprang 4.7% to 9.17 million b/d (140.55 bg annualized). Demand was 1.7% less than a year ago but 2.4% above the five-year average.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol edged 0.6% higher to a 9-week high of 906,000 b/d, equivalent to 13.89 bg annualized. Net inputs were 1.1% less than a year ago yet 3.0% above the five-year average.

Ethanol exports were estimated at 132,000 b/d (5.5 million gallons/day), which is 32.7% below the prior week’s high mark. There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the 14th consecutive week.

Urea Moves 6% Lower; Prices Mixed for Other Fertilizers

Retail fertilizer prices continue their recent path of floating around unchanged, according to prices tracked by DTN for the third week of December 2023.

According to retail sellers surveyed by DTN, five of the eight major fertilizers were higher in price compared to last month and the other three fertilizers were slightly lower. DTN designates a significant move as anything 5% or more.

Only one fertilizer had a notable price move compared to last month. Urea was down 6% and had an average price of $537/ton.

Two fertilizers were down just slightly: Anhydrous had an average price of $807/ton and UAN32 was $402/ton.

Five fertilizers were just slightly higher in price compared to last month. DAP had an average price of $721/ton, MAP $815/ton, potash $517/ton, 10-34-0 $599/ton and UAN28 $342/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was $0.58/lb.N, anhydrous $0.49/lb.N, UAN28 $0.61/lb.N and UAN32 $0.63/lb.N.

All fertilizers are now lower by double digits compared to one year ago: MAP by 10%, DAP 19%, 10-34-0 by 20%, urea 29%, potash 35%, and anhydrous, UAN28 and UAN32 are 41% cheaper.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Wednesday December 27 Ag News

Nebraska Farm Bureau Outlines Top Agricultural Issues in 2023 and 2024

Farmers, ranchers, and Nebraska agriculture remained resilient in 2023. From widespread drought conditions and uncertainty in commodity markets, to economic recoil associated with higher interest rates and input costs, Nebraska agriculture navigated some challenging waters. Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) worked alongside Nebraska’s farm and ranch families to help lighten the burden by helping deliver historic property tax relief, promoting growth opportunities for livestock agriculture, working on the next Farm Bill, helping achieve an unprecedent Supreme Court win for Waters of the United States (WOTUS), and continuing to ensure strong agricultural advocates are elected. Those issues round out Nebraska Farm Bureau’s top agricultural issues list for 2023.

“Today, Nebraska represents the third-largest agriculture production complex in the country worth $100 billion. The things we need to do to grow agriculture at this level will come with difficult conversations about taxes, trade, water, energy, and the environment, and we must get comfortable with speaking out about the things that are important for our future,” said Mark McHargue, NEFB president.

2023 brought historic tax relief for all Nebraskans, lowering property taxes by an estimated 30 percent by 2030. State funding for K-12 schools is at an all-time high, and income tax rates continue to decrease. As Nebraska saw landowners voice concern when their agricultural land was annexed into city limits. Through grassroots advocacy, NEFB was able to help those landowners preserve their special valuation status, saving up to $50,980 annually for affected farms, ultimately saving their family operations.

With Nebraska as the protein production capital of the world, NEFB continues to promote and support animal agriculture. Increased state tax credits for livestock operations growing their employment and a lowered investment threshold to qualify for the livestock modernization program have expanded the Livestock Modernization Act making over 9000 additional operations eligible for those tax credits. Also of note was the aftermath of the unfavorable Supreme Court ruling on California’s Proposition 12 (Prop 12) which established animal welfare standards for pork, poultry, and veal products imported into California. It is imperative that Congress pass a federal legislative fix to ensure one state does not dictate production practices for the entire country. NEFB is thankful the entire Nebraska congressional delegation is actively supporting legislation to rectify the situation.

“Growing Nebraska’s livestock sector is vital to Nebraska’s agricultural economy and thus, the state’s economy. It is crucial our state allows for this expansion and does not stand in the way of new and much more sophisticated facilities going in place. We need to actively engage at the federal, state, and local county level to support the new frontier for livestock growth, communicating the beneficial economic impact these livestock operations could have on local economies,” said McHargue.

While Congress spent much of 2023 hearing from farmers and ranchers about what they’d like to see in a new Farm Bill, ultimately, a one-year extension was passed pushing completion of the bill into 2024. Protecting federal crop insurance and ensuring it is not tied to climate focused practices or incentives were two of NEFB’s top priorities. Reforming USDA disaster programs to provide better flexibility in the event of natural disasters is also key. While a more evolutionary than revolutionary Farm Bill continues to be likely, getting a bill out of Congress that works for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families remains paramount.

2023 continued to prove the adage, “whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting.” This summer, the U.S .Supreme Court scored a major win for private property advocates concerning EPA’s WOTUS regulations in the Sackett v. EPA case. Eliminating the significant nexus test was a huge step in Farm Bureau’s fight to ensure the federal government’s regulatory reach over water remains limited. The development of the Perkins County Canal remained an important issue. The finalization of this project would help ensure Nebraska’s receive the water from Colorado that it is entitled to.  Lastly, there is no question that every Nebraskan deserves access to safe drinking water. Utilizing money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), NEFB secured funding to help defray the cost of reverse osmosis units to help protect those with high nitrates in their homes. Nebraska Farm Bureau remains committed to protecting this vital resource for generations to come.

Agriculture could not have made the progress legislatively it did in 2023 without having strong agricultural supporters in elected positions. We must elect the right people to get the right policies passed. Every election gives us the opportunity to expand on our past success. The Nebraska Farm Bureau Political Action Committee (NEFB-PAC) prioritizes cultivating and supporting agricultural advocates seeking office on the local, state, and national levels. In the last election, 82 percent of NEFB-PAC endorsed candidates were elected, including Nebraska’s first agricultural governor in more than 100 years. As Nebraska heads into another election year, it is critical that we continue to elevate the importance of agriculture in communities across the state and strengthen agriculture’s voice. Electing the right people into office lays the foundation for progress to be made.

“We need good, purposeful leaders across the state and in our nation’s capital,” said McHargue. “We need to identify people who will step up to be our next state senator, school board member or county commissioner, and find new leaders willing to carry the torch for our local County Farm Bureau boards. Fewer things are more important than getting the right people in positions to make important decisions for agriculture.”

With 2024 on the horizon, there is continued growth and progress to be made. At the federal level, NEFB calls on Congress to provide a solution for Prop 12 and complete the next Farm Bill. In terms of state issues, the future looks bright on finding balance of the three-legged stool of property, income and sales tax. Getting the right individuals elected will push us one step closer to achieving that balance and creating a sustainable future for agriculture. Continued growth of the agriculture complex will lead to a prosperous, sustainable Nebraska.

Finding the Balance Between Ag Production and Natural Resource Conservation

Center for Ag Profitability Webinar
Date:  Jan. 18, 2024
Time:  12:00 pm–1:00 pm
With Andrew Little, Assistant Professor of Landscape Ecology and Habitat Management, UNL; and John Westra, Professor of Agricultural Economics, UNL.

During the past 50+ years, Nebraska and other midwestern states have experienced a dramatic conversion of intact grasslands and other non-crop vegetation to row crop production to feed and fuel the growing world. While the intensification of agriculture has led to increased production levels, there have also been negative effects to the ecosystem such as soil loss, water quality issues, and loss of wildlife biodiversity. To ensure we can adequately feed and fuel the growing world while ensuring the sustainability of our natural resources for future generations, we must have honest conversations about ways to “find the balance” between production agriculture and natural resource conservation. During this webinar, Drs. Westra and Little will provide a history of conservation in agricultural landscapes and discuss innovative precision conservation approaches to help farmers and ranchers in Nebraska and beyond “find the balance” between production agriculture and natural resource conservation.

Dr. Andrew Little serves as the Director of the Applied Wildlife Ecology and Spatial Movement (AWESM) Lab. Andy is a wildlife spatial ecologist focused on creating innovative solutions to the growing wildlife conservation and management needs in multi-functional landscapes where there are competing interests for agricultural production, wildlife conservation, and ecosystem services.

Dr. John Westra serves as Director of the Panhandle Research, Extension and Education Center in Scottsbluff. Prior to joining UNL, Westra was the J. Nelson Fairbanks Professor at Louisiana State University (LSU) and served as faculty member for over 15 years at LSU’s department of agricultural economics and agribusiness. His own research has focused on production, natural resource and environmental economics relevant to the agricultural sector.

Get more information and register at  

Land Application Training Days - Getting the most value from your manure resource!

Initial training and Recertification training 2024

Turning manure nutrients into better crop yields while protecting the environment will be the focus of seven Nebraska Extension workshops being held across the state this February and March. “Our workshops have traditionally been focused on livestock producers because they’re required to attend manure training regularly, but we’ve made an effort to include the crop farmers that are often the recipients of the manure because the information we share is just as valuable to them and their bottom line,” said Leslie Johnson, UNL animal manure management coordinator. “The workshops will still meet the educational requirements for permitted livestock operations laid out by the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy’s title 130.”

Participants who attend the day-long (9 am – 4 pm) event will receive NDEE Land Application Training Certification. The initial land application training certification requires participation in the full day program, which includes lunch. Attendance at the afternoon session will meet minimum needs for recertification, but participants who only need recertification may choose to attend the full event if they wish for no additional charge. Sessions will include an update on regulations and discussions on how to best use manure on cropland. Anyone is welcome regardless of the need for certification. Crop farmers and livestock operations will learn useful information to apply to their operations.

Sessions will focus on what fields should be chosen to best utilize manure nutrients and other benefits. Each session will be highly participant-led with limited seating. Participants will be given a scenario and asked to determine priority ranking of each field within the scenario. This ranking will be done at the end of each activity focused on manure nutrients, transportation cost, soil health, water quality, as well as neighbors and odors. Regulations and record keeping pertaining to manure storage and application will also be addressed during each session.

Sessions include:
· February 12 – Columbus
· February 13 – Geneva
· February 19 – Scottsbluff
· February 20 – Lexington
· February 29 – Norfolk
· March 5 – West Point
· March 6 – Ord

Because of participation limits in each session, registration is required. If registration numbers exceed expectations, more sessions may be added. To ensure your attendance, register at Cost of the sessions will be $75 per operation requiring certification or $25 per person with no expectation of certification.

The workshops are sponsored by the Nebraska Extension Animal Manure Management Team, which is dedicated to helping livestock and crop producers better utilize manure resources for agronomic and environmental benefits. For additional information on the workshops and other resources for managing manure nutrients, visit or contact Leslie Johnson at 402-584-3818 or

Beef Quality Assurance Workshop plus speaker John Cook, Nebraska Volleyball Coach

A Certified Angus Beef ® brand lunch will be served at 11 a.m., with the BQA sessions starting at noon. During the BQA sessions, industry experts will cover transportation, stockmanship and cattle handling, biosecurity, herd health and emergency action planning. Attendees can get BQA certified or renew an expired certification if needed.

The event will conclude with guest speaker John Cook, University of Nebraska (UNL) volleyball head coach. Attendees must participate in the BQA workshop and possess a valid BQA certificate to hear Coach Cook speak and participate in the meet-and-greet with him and UNL volleyball players.

Before the BQA workshop, kids will have the opportunity to complete Youth Quality Care for Animals (YQCA) at 10 a.m. As a reminder, YQCA is a requirement for all youth 8 – 21 years old who plan to exhibit beef, sheep, swine, goats, dairy, rabbits, or poultry in Nebraska.

The event is hosted by Certified Angus Beef and Sysco, in conjunction with Nebraska Beef Quality Assurance and Round the Bend Steakhouse.

Register online at  Get more information by contacting Jesse Fulton at (308) 633-0158 or email

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to Address 2024 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack will address the 2024 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit on January 11, 2024. During the event, Vilsack will receive IRFA’s highest award. Attendance is free and open to the public.

“The IRFA Board is very excited that Secretary Vilsack can join the Summit,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Marketing Director Lisa Coffelt. “As a state legislator, governor and now USDA secretary, Tom Vilsack has been an outstanding voice for farmers and the importance of biofuels to rural America. We are looking forward to hearing his vision for the future and for the chance to honor his many years of support.”

Nominated by President Joe Biden, Sec. Vilsack was confirmed as the 32nd United States Secretary of Agriculture on Feb. 23, 2021 by the U.S. Senate. Vilsack was the longest-serving member of President Barack Obama’s original Cabinet. Prior to his appointment, he served two terms as the Governor of Iowa, served in the Iowa State Senate and as the mayor of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. He received his bachelor's degree from Hamilton College and his law degree from Albany Law School in New York.

The 2024 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit will explore how to “Chart Our Course” for the future of biofuels. The summit will be held on January 11, 2024, at the Prairie Meadows Event Center in Altoona, Iowa. Attendance is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Register and find more information at   

Iowa Pork Congress coming to Des Moines January 24 and 25

The 2024 Iowa Pork Congress, North America’s largest winter swine trade show, takes place on Jan. 24 and 25 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. It will be the 51st annual event, with more than 4,500 attendees, hundreds of vendors, and multiple educational sessions. Iowa Pork Congress is organized by the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA), whose annual meeting convenes at 10 a.m. on January 23.

“While this has been an exceptionally challenging year in our industry due to the Supreme Court decision regarding Proposition 12 and the tough economics of raising pigs, it is always great to join together as pig farmers to discuss what we love to do most: raise pigs,” said IPPA President Trish Cook, a pig farmer from Winthrop. “I encourage everyone connected to the swine industry to make room in your schedule to attend the 2024 Iowa Pork Congress!”   

In addition to the great networking opportunities and expansive trade show, the Iowa Pork Congress includes educational sessions, with keynote presentations each day. On Wednesday, Jan. 23, award-winning international speaker Steve Lerch, a former Google executive, offers insight on understanding and influencing modern consumers.

The Wednesday seminars will cover the economic outlook for the pork industry, export market highlights, DNR and EPA compliance, and the future of traceability. There will also be certification training for both Pork Quality Assurance and Transport Quality Assurance. Wednesday’s schedule concludes with the annual Master Pork Producer Awards banquet.

On Thursday, Jan. 25, Michele Payn, one of North America’s leading experts in connecting farm and food, will discuss mental health and resiliency in the agriculture industry. Other educational sessions on Jan. 25 include panel discussions on swine diseases and labor issues.


Pre-registration to attend the Iowa Pork Congress is available online. IPPA members can attend the trade show and conference at no cost by using their registration code which has been sent to them.

Non-IPPA members pay just $5 for online registration up until the day of the show. Early online registration is highly encouraged to provide quick and easy check-in to the event.

For more information about events and registration, contact IPPA at (800) 372-7675 or visit

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Tuesday December 26 Ag News

 NASS seeks public input during survey program review

Upon the completion of the Census of Agriculture every five years, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service conducts a thorough review of its estimating programs. The goal of the review is to ensure that the annual estimating programs target the commodities and states most relevant to U.S. agriculture. In addition to ag census data, NASS will consider all available information, including public input, when determining whether to add or remove specific programs and when selecting the individual states included in each commodity program.

With data collection for the 2022 Census of Agriculture now complete, NASS is beginning the program review process and is now seeking public feedback. Please send comments or other information for consideration about a specific NASS program, along with contact information, to with NASS Program Review in the subject line by Jan. 5, 2024.

Iowa farmer named to American Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee

Vanessa Trampel of Garner has been named to the American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee (AFBF YF&R). Trampel currently serves as chair for Iowa Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer program.

“My goal in Iowa has been to get more young people involved at the county Farm Bureau level,” says Trampel. “By sharing experiences and learning from each other, we can uncover new opportunities. Through involvement in Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee, I’m eager to learn from peers nationwide and create a supportive environment where young farmers feel connected and heard.”

As a member of the AFBF YF&R, Trampel will provide input to long-term planning, assist with national young farmer events, engage in leadership training and act as a liaison between the national YF&R and state programs.

Trampel, along with her husband, Kody, and two children, raise corn, soybeans, alfalfa and cattle.  She also holds an off-farm job as an occupational health nurse and volunteers with Ag in the Classroom programs.

Research and Demonstration Farms Held More than 100 Field Days in 2023

The past year was one of transition and new beginnings for the Research and Demonstration Farms operated by Iowa State University.

At the leadership level, Kendall Lamkey was named research farms director and associate dean for facilities and operations for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in May. Lamkey’s appointment follows the retirement of director Mark Honeyman, who retired in 2022.

Lamkey previously served as chair of the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State, and said he looks forward to showcasing the farms and the work being done by specialists.

“The research farms are a huge asset for the university and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,” said Lamkey. “They’re an avenue for our faculty to execute their research, teaching and extension programs, and they’re also an avenue for our demonstration projects in extension.”
Beef cattle eating in barn.

Research topics

This year’s research included topics related to crop and livestock production, drought management, soil health and fertility, pasture management, fencing and grazing, as well as weed and insect management.

Iowa State held more than 100 field days at its 15 farms in 2023, with demonstrations led by specialists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The farms are located across the state, giving farmers and the general public the opportunity to interact with researchers and view the latest in modern agriculture.

“I see the farms as Iowa State outposts,” said Lamkey. “They are representations of what happens on campus and in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.”

Something for everyone

Lamkey said he was especially impressed with the turnout for the field days held at the Horticulture Research Station, just north of Ames. The Fall Field Day, held in September in partnership with Iowa Public Radio, drew more than 250 people.

He said the horticulture field days are popular among producers and also members of the community who simply want to learn more about horticulture and food production.

Tim Goode, research farms manager at Iowa State, said the farms continue to be a popular destination for people of all ages and backgrounds. Several events were youth-specific, exposing youth to careers in agriculture, as well as farm safety.

“Many of our Iowa youth don’t have grandparents on the farm anymore, so the research farms are a great way to expose them to where their food comes from and the work being done by Iowa State University,” said Goode. “Hopefully the field days inspire them and they may someday pursue an education or a career in agriculture.”

New facilities

This was the first full year that the Southeast Research and Demonstration Farm utilized its newly constructed Research and Learning Center, an 80-by-60-foot facility that will be used to maintain and repair equipment, and also for hosting educational events. Rotary hote in action.

In north central Iowa, the Northern Research and Demonstration Farm is conducting a capital campaign to construct a new facility that will including a large multi-use area, offices for farm staff, a lobby and welcome area, as well as new restrooms and a kitchenette.

The Northern Research and Demonstration Farm is the oldest of the state’s research farms. This 173-acre farm conducts research that is essential to farmers and agricultural business partners across the region. Donations are still being accepted and information about how to donate is available online.

“We look forward to the many ways these new facilities will be put to use, and the improvements they will offer our staff and the public,” said Lamkey. “Agriculture continues to change, and so do the needs of society. These modern buildings will allow us to better work on and demonstrate today’s farm equipment, and educate Iowans about issues that impact their lives.”

Mercaris Murmurings: New Argentine leadership could impact organic soybean imports

Organic soybean imports in Nov. 2023 increased significantly to 28,000 MT, an increase of 56% y/y and 2200% m/m. Argentina was the largest source with 16,000 MT, followed by Turkey with 8,000 MT. Uruguay and Ukraine both sent 1,000 MT. This was the first month that Ukraine has exported organic soybeans to the United States since Oct. 2022.

Domestic organic soybean prices recovered in November. The price of feed-grade organic soybeans delivered to the U.S. Corn Belt averaged $22.00 during November, which is down $0.15 from the prior month and down $7.49 from a year prior. Organic soybean trading has been quieter than usual for this time of year but has picked up from recent months.

The recent election in Argentina, a major source of organic soybeans, has raised questions about the potential dollarizing of the Argentine economy proposed by the new president would affect exports. In recent years, the Argentine economy has been affected by significant inflation, which has made farmers hesitant to export their grain. Grain stored on farm will be paid for with U.S. dollars when exported to the U.S., so while held on farm the value is not affected by the persistent inflation. When farmers do sell the grain and convert the revenue into Argentine pesos, it then becomes vulnerable to inflation and can lose value quickly. Farmers are then incentivized to hold onto their grain for longer. If the Argentine economy was converted to U.S. dollars, then farmers would have less of an advantage to carrying grain rather than selling it for export. This could help to front end Argentine exports more heavily towards harvest. However, a recent increase of 3% points for export duties will hamper some agricultural exports.

Pre-Solicitation Announcement for Section 32 Purchase of Pork Products

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced plans to purchase Pork Products for distribution to various food nutrition assistance programs. Potential materials may include 111061 - PORK LOIN ROAST FRZ CTN-6/5 LB, 100891 - PORK HAM WATERAD SLC FRZ PKG-20/2 LB, 100182 - PORK HAM WATERAD FRZ CTN-12/3 LB and 111030 - PORK PATTY CKD PKG-20/2 LB. Purchases will be made under the authority of Section 32 of the Act of August 24, 1935, with the purpose to encourage the continued domestic consumption of these products by diverting them from the normal channels of trade and commerce.

Solicitations will be issued in the near future and will be available electronically through the Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) system. A hard copy of the solicitation will not be available. Public WBSCM information is available without an account on the WBSCM Public Procurement Page. All future information regarding this acquisition, including solicitation amendments and award notices, will be published through WBSCM and on the Agricultural Marketing Service's website.  Interested parties shall be responsible for ensuring they have the most up-to-date information about this acquisition. The contract type is anticipated to be firm-fixed-price.  Deliveries are expected to be to various locations in the United States on a Freight on Board (FOB) destination basis.

Pursuant to Agricultural Acquisition Regulation 470.103(b), commodities and the products of agricultural commodities acquired under this contract must be a product of the United States and shall be considered such a product if it is grown, processed and otherwise prepared for sale or distribution exclusively in the United States. Packaging and container components under this acquisition will be the only portion subject to the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement and Free Trade Agreements, as addressed by FAR clause 52.225-5.

Offerors are urged to review all documents as they pertain to this program, including the latest:
    AMS Master Solicitation for Commodity Procurements (MSCP), effective November, 2023.
    Applicable commodity specification(s) identified in the subsequent solicitation(s).
    New Vendor Qualification Checklist (pdf), effective October 6, 2021.

These documents are available on the AMS Commodity Procurement webpage.

To be eligible to submit offers, potential contractors must meet the AMS vendor qualification requirements. The AMS point of contact for new vendors is Andrea Lang or Diana Dau David who can be reached by phone at (202) 720-4237 or by email at Details of these requirements are available online. Once qualification requirements have been met, access to WBSCM will be provided. Bids, modifications, withdrawals of bids and price adjustments shall be submitted using this system. Submission of the above by any means other than WBSCM will be determined non-responsive.

Linamar Acquires Seeding Expert Bourgault Industries, Significantly Bolstering its
Agriculture Business

Linamar Corporation (TSX: LNR) today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire Bourgault Industries Ltd. of St. Brieux, Saskatchewan, further enhancing its Industrial segment’s diversified offerings and advancing its position as a leading short-line agriculture equipment manufacturer. Bourgault is a world-class agriculture equipment manufacturer regarded as a market and technology leader in broad acre seeding. Linamar’s existing agricultural brands include harvesting specialist MacDon, and tillage and crop nutrition expert Salford. Bourgault is highly complimentary to these existing divisions and enables Linamar to increase its market position as it now possesses a full lineup of products in the broader crop production cycle, from field preparation, to seeding, crop nutrition, harvest and post harvest.

The transaction, representing the purchase of 100% of the equity interest of Bourgault, is for CAD $640 Million, subject to customary adjustments. Bourgault will become part of a new Linamar Agriculture division within the broader Industrial Segment. The industrial segment also includes Skyjack, a manufacturer of aerial work platforms. This new Agriculture group will continue to operate the shortline brands of MacDon, Salford, and Bourgault independently while maximizing overall growth opportunities globally, better enabling future Agriculture technologies, improving the overall farm customer experience, as well as enhancing product support. The acquisition includes Bourgault’s Highline Manufacturing division which produces hay handling and livestock feeding equipment, as well as roto-moulding producer Free Form Plastics.

Linda Hasenfratz, Linamar Executive Chair and CEO said “We are thrilled to welcome Bourgault Industries into the Linamar family. Bourgault is another Canadian manufacturing success story that draws many similarities to Linamar’s history of entrepreneurism and technical innovation. The Bourgault name is synonymous with broad acre agricultural seeding innovation and offers a tremendous opportunity for Linamar to further diversify and grow our agriculture platform, as well as our Industrial segment overall. It also further enhances our powerful synergistic diversification strategy whereby our Industrial businesses benefit from purchasing leverage, global footprint and access to industry leading lean manufacturing expertise from our Mobility businesses, while our Mobility business benefits from the strong cash generation and brand expertise of our Industrial businesses. Together our business model provides an excellent formula for consistent, sustainable growth with strong margins and excellent balance sheet strength.”

Jim Jarrell, Linamar’s President and COO added, “Bourgault is our third strategic acquisition of 2023, following two previous transactions within the Mobility sector earlier this year. This work is the result of a well-defined strategy to grow our business with diversified product offerings, creating a larger potential addressable market and new pathways for future revenue growth. Bourgault strengthens our short-line agriculture platform with strong brand recognition, a portfolio of advanced seeding technologies and an operational footprint that will enable us to better serve the core Western Canadian and US Midwest farm base.”

Bourgault President Gerry Bourgault commented, “Bourgault was started by my father and has a rich history in agriculture. The Bourgault family is incredibly proud of the legacy we have created both here in in St. Brieux, Saskatchewan, but also around the world. We are excited to have our team of over nine-hundred people in Saskatchewan, and over one thousand worldwide, join the Linamar family. Linamar has a proven track record for not only successfully integrating acquired companies, but also for their manufacturing expertise and business execution overall. I am confident Linamar will take the Bourgault brand to new heights in its next chapter, while also allowing Bourgault to maintain and build upon its deep-rooted connections to its stakeholders in Saskatchewan and around the world.”

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Friday December 22 Cattle on Feed, Hogs & Pigs, + CBP Rail Crossings and more Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.58 million cattle on feed on December 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was down 1% from last year. Placements during November totaled 490,000 head, down 3% from 2022. Fed cattle marketings for the month of November totaled 440,000 head, down 8% from last year. Other disappearance during November totaled 10,000 head, down 5,000 head from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 640,000 head on December 1, 2023, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was down 2 percent from November but up 2 percent from December 1, 2022. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 490,000 head on feed, up 3 percent from last month but down 8 percent from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,130,000 head, up slightly from last month but
own 3 percent from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during November 2023 totaled 88,000 head, down 5 percent from October and down 7 percent from November 2022. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 75,000 head, up 9 percent from October but down 20 percent from November 2022. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 163,000 head, up 1 percent from October but down 14 percent from November 2022.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during November 2023 totaled 97,000 head, up 18 percent from October and up 3 percent from November 2022. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 54,000 head, down 18 percent from October but up 15 percent from November 2022. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 151,000 head, up 2 percent from October and up 7 percent from November 2022. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 7,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 3 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 12.0 million head on December 1, 2023. The inventory was 3 percent above December 1, 2022.

By State                    1000 hd  -  % Dec 1 '22

Colorado ......:           1,030           99           
Iowa .............:           640             102             
Kansas ..........:          2,500          107            
Nebraska ......:          2,580           99         
Texas ............:          2,910          104           

Placements in feedlots during November totaled 1.87 million head, 2 percent below 2022. Net placements were 1.81 million head. During November, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 535,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 440,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 380,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 288,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 140,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 85,000 head.

By State            1000 hd  -  %  Nov '22

Colorado ......:         155           107         
Iowa .............:         88            93            
Kansas ..........:        385            92         
Nebraska ......:        490            97            
Texas ............:        390           105           

Marketings of fed cattle during November totaled 1.75 million head, 7 percent below 2022. Other disappearance totaled 54,000 head during November, 5 percent below 2022.

By State            1000 hd  -  %  Nov '22

Colorado ......:      150            88        
Iowa .............:       97           103        
Kansas ..........:     395            96           
Nebraska ......:     440            92          
Texas ............:     365            89            

United States hog inventory up slightly

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on December 1, 2023 was 75.0 million head. This was up slightly from December 1, 2022, but down slightly from September 1, 2023. Breeding inventory, at 6.00 million head, was down 3 percent from last year, and down 3 percent from the previous quarter. Market hog inventory, at 69.0 million head, was up slightly from last year, but down slightly from last quarter.

The September-November 2023 pig crop, at 34.6 million head, was down slightly from 2022. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 2.97 million head, down 4 percent from 2022. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 48 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.66 for the September-November period, compared to 11.22 last year.

United States hog producers intend to have 2.90 million sows farrow during the December 2023-February 2024 quarter, down 2 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period one year earlier, and down 1 percent from the same period two years earlier. Intended farrowings for March-May 2024, at 2.91 million sows, are down 1 percent from the same period one year earlier, and down 2 percent from the same period two years earlier.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 51 percent of the total United States hog inventory, up 3 percent from the previous year.

To obtain an accurate measurement of the U.S. swine industry, NASS surveyed 6,341 operators across the nation during the first half of December. The data collected were received by electronic data recording, mail, telephone, and face-to-face interviews.


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on December 1, 2023, was 3.80 million head, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was up 6% from December 1, 2022, and up 1% from September 1, 2023.

Breeding hog inventory, at 400,000 head, was down 2% from December 1, 2022, and down 2% from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 3.40 million head, was up 7% from last year, and up 2% from last quarter.

The September - November 2023 Nebraska pig crop, at 2.19 million head, was up slightly from 2022. Sows farrowed during the period totaled 185,000 head, down 3% from last year. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.85 for the September - November period, compared to 11.50 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 180,000 sows during the December 2023 - February 2024 quarter, unchanged from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago. Intended farrowings for March - May 2024 are 180,000 sows, unchanged from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.

Iowa:  On December 1, 2023, there were 24.9 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs report. Inventory was up 1 percent from the previous quarter and up 3 percent from the previous year.

The September-November 2023 quarterly pig crop was 5.37 million head, down 3 percent from the previous quarter and down 13 percent from last year. A total of 455,000 sows farrowed during this quarter. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.80 for the quarter.

As of December 1, producers planned to farrow 470,000 sows and gilts in the December 2023 February 2024 quarter and 470,000 head during the March-May 2024 quarter.

AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Frontier Farm Credit, and Farm Credit Services of America Announce Collaboration  

The Boards of Directors for three Farm Credit Associations serving farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses across eight states approved a collaboration agreement this week aimed at better serving their respective customers. AgCountry Farm Credit Services (AgCountry), Frontier Farm Credit, and Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica) signed a collaboration contract to become effective no earlier than April 1, 2024.

The Directors have agreed to share key functions, such as leadership, strategic planning, and technology, while retaining local, independent Boards, offices, services, cash patronage programs, and more.

“Our three Boards are comprised mostly of farmers and ranchers. We were elected by our fellow member-owners to make decisions ensuring our Associations fulfill their mission to current and future producers,” said Lynn Pietig, chair of AgCountry’s Board of Directors. “Each Association enters this collaboration in a financially strong position. By working together, we can achieve benefits of scale that make us even stronger.”

The collaboration is expected to facilitate cost efficiencies, new market opportunities, and the ability to provide additional resources for specialized programs, industry insights, and technology to meet the diverse needs of all segments of agriculture.

“Continual improvement is vital to the long-term success of any farm or ranch,” said Shane Tiffany, chair of the Frontier Farm Credit Board. “Our financial cooperatives are no different. As agriculture gets more complicated and our risks and costs as producers increase, we need to know we can count on our lender. This collaboration better positions us for the future.”

Together, these three Farm Credit Associations serve more than 85,000 producers across Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. At 2022 year-end, AgCountry reported  loan volume of $11.6 billion, Frontier Farm Credit, $2.6 billion, and FCSAmerica, $38.3 billion.

“There are many examples of successful collaborations in the Farm Credit System,” said Nick Jorgensen, chair of the FCSAmerica Board. “This one is unique in allowing each Association to share functions where it makes sense, yet retain the local experience we all have come to value from our individual cooperatives and financial teams.”

Shareholders of the three Associations will receive additional information regarding this collaboration.  

About the Collaborating Associations
As part of the Farm Credit network of cooperatives, the three Associations provide credit, risk management and/or financial services to their customers.

AgCountry is headquartered in Fargo, North Dakota, and serves 25,000 farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses in portions of Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Frontier Farm Credit serves 6,700 producers in eastern Kansas, where it has headquarters in Manhattan.

FCSAmerica, headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, serves 55,000 producers in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Combined, the collaborating Associations have nearly $60 billion in assets: AgCountry, $13 billion; Frontier Farm Credit, $2.8 billion; and FCSAmerica, $43.3 billion.


The Nebraska Pork Producers are hosting a series of producer meetings across eastern Nebraska in the months of January, February and March.... Here are the dates and locations:
JAN 16th – Hartington Golf Course, Hartington
FEB 13th – Nielson Event Center, West Point
FEB 27th – 1888 Tavern, Lindsey
MAR 12th – Valentino’s, Beatrice

6:00 pm – Arrival and Socialize
6:30 pm – Supper
6:45 Meeting

Danish Swine Industry Tour – Steve Hoefer
NE Livestock Modernization Updates and State Tax Advantages – Al Juhnke
Impact of NPPC and National Pork Board Efforts on your bottom line-Steve Hoefer
Updates on Swine Health – Area Swine Veterinarians
New Traceability Standards – How it will impact your business – Steve Hoefer
Swine Research – UNL

They have put together a solid evening of impactful information that pertains to your pork operation.  Please come and join for supper and an informative evening.  They really want to stress areas of interest that bring value to statewide producers.  


Statement from CBP on Operational Changes and Resumption of Rail Operations in Eagle Pass and El Paso

“To meet the challenge we are currently seeing across the southwest border, U.S. Customs & Border Patrol is continuing to use all available resources to ensure the safety and security of our agents and officers, and the migrants who are often misled and victimized by transnational criminal organizations. After observing a recent shift in the trends of smuggling organizations moving migrants through Mexico, CBP took additional actions to surge personnel and address this concerning development, including in partnership with Mexican authorities. The Office of Field Operations has re-directed personnel and resources in order to support the U.S. Border Patrol as well as perform its critical functions including the security and facilitation of lawful trade and travel.

“Beginning December 22, 2023 at 2:00 pm Eastern, CBP’s Office of Field Operations will resume operations at the international railway crossing bridges in Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas.

“CBP will continue to prioritize our border security mission as necessary in response to this evolving situation. We continue to assess security situations, adjust our operational plans, and deploy resources to maximize enforcement efforts against those noncitizens who do not use lawful pathways or processes such as CBP One™ and those without a legal basis to remain in the United States.

Gov. Pillen Commends Sec. Mayorkas for Swiftly Answering the Request to Resume Rail Operations at the Southern Border

Today, Governor Jim Pillen issued a statement following a personal phone call with the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, in which the Secretary indicated that railway crossings and rail operations will resume at the southern border, effective immediately.

“I am grateful Sec. Mayorkas took the time to hear Nebraska’s concerns and issued a quick response, before we suffered the consequences of suspending rail operations,” said Gov. Pillen. “As a country, we must work together to solve the crisis at the southern border, however, we cannot solve it by suspending essential transportation operations. This action would have implications to trade agreements and cause negative impacts to our economy. I look forward to continuing to work with federal partners to ensure decisions made do not adversely affect Nebraska.”

Earlier this week, Gov. Pillen requested a call with Sec. Mayorkas to express concerns with the rail closure. The Governor stressed how this action would adversely impact Nebraska-based rail operations and the trade of agriculture products with Mexico. He is grateful for Sec. Mayorkas’s willingness to promptly meet and his quick response to the request to reopen U.S. – Mexico rail crossings.

Statement from Mark McHargue, President, Regarding Reopening of Rail Crossings at Southern Border

"Today's announced reopening of the rail border crossings at El Paso and Eagle Pass, Texas is certainly welcomed news. At the same time, the loss of millions of dollars in economic activity due to the crisis at our southern border should serve as a wake-up call to those currently in negotiations to address this longstanding problem. Our nation's border security, immigration, and labor policies are in desperate need of reform, and it is high time for leaders in both parties to address these critical issues. In the future, we call upon the Biden administration to allocate the resources necessary to secure our nation's southern border before costing our nation's agricultural and overall economy millions of dollars. We want to thank Nebraska's Congressional Delegation for their tireless work in reopening these vital crossings."

Ricketts on CBP Resuming Rail Operations at Southern Border

Today, U.S. Senator Pete Ricketts (R-NE) released the following statement on the news that Customs and Border Protection (CPB) would reopen rail crossings at Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas:

“It’s good news that the rail border crossings are open, but they never would have been closed if President Biden would have taken our border crisis seriously. Joe Biden must change his policies to prevent the flood of illegal immigrants coming into our country. Mexico also needs to do its part by enforcing its immigration laws and preventing thousands of illegal immigrants from riding Ferromex trains to our border.”

“Americans understand that real policy changes are the only way to bring this unprecedented crisis under control. It’s past time for President Biden to get serious.”

Mike Steenhoek, Executive Director, Soy Transportation Coalition

We certainly welcome this development.  Agricultural and other stakeholders quickly responded to the announced closures by highlighting the severe consequences to our industry and the broader economy.  That message clearly appears to have resonated.  In addition to “quality,” one of the other components of U.S. agriculture’s brand is “reliability.”  In order to maintain that reputation, we need to have a supply chain, including railroad border crossings, that can effectively connect farmers with international customers.  We appreciate that the border closure was not extended any further as that would have only served to encourage our Mexican customers to explore other sources of supply while imposing further hardship on farmers and agricultural exporters.

NCGA Expresses Relief Over Rail Crossing Re-Opening, Emphasizes Need to Avoid Similar Situations in Future

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced today that it will reopen the Eagle Pass and El Paso rail crossings into Mexico. The announcement pleased leaders at the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), who cautioned the agency against making similar decisions in the future.
“This is certainly a welcome relief,” said NCGA President Harold Wolle. “We are very appreciative that CBP was responsive to our calls to have the border crossings re-opened, but we hope this experience serves as a cautionary tale moving forward. Rail is a key mode of transportation for our exports into Mexico, so closing rail crossings can have devastating ramifications for farmers and the economy.”
The two rail crossings along the Texas border towns were closed on December 18 by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection as part of an effort to prevent migrants from entering the country illegally. Twenty-five percent of U.S. corn exports into Mexico go through El Paso and Eagle Pass.
On Thursday, the National Corn Growers Association joined other national ag groups in sending a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas calling for him to quickly reopen the rail crossings.

NGFA and NAEGA pleased with reopening of rail corridors at Eagle Pass and El Paso

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and the North America Export Grain Association (NAEGA) issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s (CBP) reopening of international rail crossings at Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas.

“The NGFA and NAEGA are pleased to see the reopening of the Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas railroad crossings to allow for the immediate passage of trains between the United States and Mexico. The North American agricultural supply chain is deeply integrated. Any closure of crossings into Mexico is unacceptable and significantly impacts the flow of grain and oilseeds for both human and livestock feed to one of the United States’ most important export markets and trading partners.

“We call on the governments of the United States and Mexico to continue to dialogue and to put in place measures on both sides of the border to ensure this does not happen again. The free flow of trade across the border is critical to food security for our countries and the region at large. A plan must be in place to keep the border open to commerce between our nations.

“NGFA and NAEGA are particularly appreciative of USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle for their unwavering support and tireless efforts to convince the Department of Homeland Security and CBP of the importance of reopening these crossings to agriculture trade between the United States and Mexico.”

Growth Energy Welcomes CBP Plan to Reopen Texas Rail Crossings

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it would reopen two rail crossings in Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas:

“We’re grateful to CBP for listening to the chorus of industry voices calling for a better approach, and we’re grateful to our biofuels champions on the Hill who delivered our message and helped find a solution to this urgent issue. The bioethanol industry and its farm partners can rest easy knowing that their goods can again flow freely to one of our most important export markets.”

USDA Cold Storage November 2023 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on November 30, 2023 were down 2 percent from the previous month and down 11 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 13 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were down 5 percent from the previous month and down 8 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 67 percent from last month but down 14 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on November 30, 2023 were down 8 percent from the previous month but up 3 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 3 percent from the previous month but down 3 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were down 37 percent from last month but up 44 percent from November 30, 2022.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on November 30, 2023 were down 2 percent from the previous month but up slightly from November 30, 2022. Butter stocks were down 10 percent from last month but up 8 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks on November 30, 2023 were down 6 percent from last month but up 7 percent from a year ago. Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 3 percent from last month but up 1 percent from a year ago.

College Students Eligible to Apply for 2024 ASA, Valent Ag Voices of the Future Program

The American Soybean Association is now accepting applications for the Valent Ag Voices of the Future program, which will be held July 15-18, 2024, in conjunction with the summer ASA board meeting and Soy Issues Forum in Washington, D.C. The Ag Voices of the Future program is for students interested in improving their understanding of major agricultural policy issues and the importance of advocacy, along with those who wish to improve their understanding of various agriculture policy career paths. Class size is limited, and students must be at least 18 years old on or by July 15 to apply.

Bonus Opportunity through Agriculture Future of America

Through an ASA and Valent partnership with collegiate organization Agriculture Future of America, two students from the 2024 Ag Voices of the Future program will be considered for a complimentary registration, hotel stay, and travel allowance for the AFA Leaders Conference, November 7-10, 2024.

To apply for the Ag Voices of the Future program and be considered for an AFA Leaders Conference scholarship, students should visit the Ag Voices of the Future section of the ASA website and follow the link to the AFA website to submit their application by March 6. To be considered for the Ag Voices of the Future program, applicants should check the box that reads “I have an interest in agriculture policy and would like to be considered for the ASA and Valent Ag Voices of the Future Program.”

Questions regarding the application process may be directed to Maria Brockamp, All other inquiries regarding the Ag Voices of the Future program may be directed to Michelle Hummel,

USDA Highlights 2023 Successes in Serving Farmers, Families and Communities

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is marking the end of 2023 by highlighting on-the-ground projects and partnerships that are building economic prosperity for farmers, families, and communities nationwide. Thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda – and its record investments in rural America – USDA has been able to help tens of thousands of farmers continue their operations and increase their revenue, connected rural communities to internet access, advanced efforts to mitigate climate change, made investments that give small businesses a leg up, lowered energy costs and costs for consumers, and more.

“For too long, America’s agricultural policies have encouraged farmers to get big or get out, and this in turn has weakened the communities whose local economies are tied to small and mid-sized farms. We’re starting to see the impact of a new way of approaching policies and programs that are better designed for the real needs of rural communities—and the results are promising,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Over the course of the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA has pushed forward with efforts to create revenue-expanding new markets for farmers, help them find opportunity while simultaneously addressing climate change, and build stronger infrastructure that leads to more prosperous farms and communities. In 2023, we saw these changes begin to take hold in tangible ways, which puts extra momentum behind the work we’ll carry out in 2024.”

In 2023, USDA has undertaken historic efforts to strengthen the agricultural economy and rural communities. Some of these initiatives and results include:

Support to Keep Farmers Farming
As of December 2023, USDA has helped more than 30,000 farmers and ranchers who were in financial distress stay on their farms and farming, thanks to resources provided through Section 22006 of the Inflation Reduction Act. The Inflation Reduction Act allocated $3.1 billion for USDA to provide relief for distressed borrowers with certain direct and guaranteed loans, and to expedite assistance for those whose agricultural operations are at financial risk due to factors outside their control, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the law was signed in August 2022, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has provided approximately $1.7 billion and counting in immediate assistance.

At the same time, USDA has greatly improved its loan application processes to better serve farmers, in part through lessons learned from Section 22006 implementation. For example, USDA has streamlined FSA loan applications from 29 pages to 13, dramatically reducing the amount of time it takes to apply for a loan and making the process less onerous. In addition, earlier this month USDA announced an online, interactive, guided application that can simplify the direct loan process for the more than 26,000 customers who apply each year and make it more accessible for those in remote areas or who may not have time to leave their operations and visit an FSA office.

In 2023, the Risk Management Agency (RMA) helped provide the largest farm safety net in history, a record $207 billion in protection for American agriculture. At the same time, the agency continued to introduce new programs to support specialty crops, livestock, controlled environment, and shellfish producers. Additionally, RMA invested over $6.5 million dollars in cooperative agreements and partnerships to help educate undeserved producers and to create workforce opportunities for underrepresented voices in the crop insurance sector.

Connecting Rural Communities
Through the ReConnect Program, USDA has made historic investments to close the digital divide in rural America, so that more Americans can take full advantage of the opportunities provided by internet access.

In 2023, USDA awarded more than $1.8 billion for 96 projects that will help more than 250,000 people in rural communities access affordable, high-speed internet. These projects will benefit over 11,000 farms, 7,300 rural businesses and nearly 500 educational facilities, helping them access the critical resources they need to thrive in the digital age.

The vast majority of these awards were thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), which provided funding for 89 projects totaling $1.73 billion. Through BIL funding , the ReConnect Program is helping to connect over 300,000 rural Americans in total.

Record Enrollment in Conservation and Clean Energy Programs
Through the Inflation Reduction Act, USDA has enrolled more farmers and more acres in voluntary conservation programs than at any point in history, following a backlog that has existed for years. In 2023, USDA enrolled nearly 5,300 additional producers in Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation programs across all 50 states. The Inflation Reduction Act provided $19.5 billion over 5 years for popular conservation programs, including the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

Since 2021, USDA has seen a significant increase in enrollment and interest in its Conversation Reserve Program, which is a critical part of the Department’s efforts to support climate-smart agriculture and forestry on working lands. In October, USDA announced it issued more than $1.77 billion to 667,000 agricultural producers and landowners for 23 million acres of private land enrolled in CRP.

Through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), USDA in 2023 made 2,059 investments totaling over $362 million to help farmers and rural small businesses access renewable energy systems—like solar panels and anaerobic digesters—that lower energy costs, generate new income, and strengthen the resiliency of their operations. Since its creation, REAP has consistently received more interest than funding available. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, which funded 1,950 of this year’s total REAP investments, USDA is helping more agricultural operations and rural small businesses access renewable energy systems and save money on energy costs.

Protecting Communities from Wildfire and Increasing Tree Canopy
In Fiscal Year 2023, USDA’s Forest Service met and exceeded key milestones in addressing the wildfire crisis, restoring national forests and supporting rural communities. These benchmarks included treating 4.3 million acres of national forest system lands to reduce wildfire risk and 1.9 million acres of national forest land with prescribed fire – both were agency records and were enabled through strong partnerships with Tribes, state and local governments, conservation groups, industry and other important stakeholders. Also, the first round of Community Wildfire Defense Grant Awards was announced – investing $197 million in 100 projects in 22 states and seven tribes that were impacted or threatened by wildfires. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided $1 billion for this program over 5 years. The second round of awards will be announced in 2024.

In addition to their ongoing efforts to protect communities and natural resources from the devastating impacts of wildfire, the Forest Service has also invested in the well-being and climate resilience of urban communities. USDA in September announced more than $1 billion to plant and maintain trees, combat extreme heat and climate change, and improve access to nature in cities, towns, and suburbs. Located in all 50 states, the 385 selected projects increase equitable access to trees and nature, and the benefits they provide for cooling city streets, improving air quality, and promoting food security, public health and safety.

Increased Support for Small Businesses Through USDA Food Purchases
To support nutrition programs, including school meal programs and emergency food providers such as food banks and food pantries, USDA procures foods and products from vendors nationwide. In Fiscal Year 2023, 63 percent of USDA’s purchases for domestic nutrition programs came from small business, which the Small Business Administration defines as having fewer than 500 employees. This is an increase of 8 percent over Fiscal Year 2022 and shows that USDA’s efforts to diversify its procurement contracts is taking hold. With this increase, USDA is creating more opportunities to bolster rural communities, support small businesses, and connect small and mid-sized farmers to new markets.

Reducing Hunger and Promoting Health
Through its suite of federal nutrition assistance programs, USDA reached 1 in 4 Americans with healthy food, nutrition education, and other resources, from rural areas to cities and towns across the country. In 2023, USDA expanded access to school breakfast and lunch to students in an estimated 3,000 more school districts in high-need areas; provided greater convenience and access to healthy food options to tens of millions of Americans by expanding online purchasing in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to all 50 states and the District of Columbia; and partnered with states and territories to feed children over the summer through new summer meal service options in rural communities, such as grab-n-go or delivery. USDA also invested nearly $30 million to support school meal improvements in 264 small and rural communities—the largest targeted investment USDA has ever made for school meal programs in small and rural communities.

Leveling the Playing Field for Producers
Consistent with President Biden's Executive Order on Promoting Competition in America’s Economy, USDA in 2023 continued its comprehensive approach to increase competition in agricultural markets, create a fairer playing field for small- and mid-size farmers, and help increase choices and lower costs for consumers.

In 2023, USDA invested millions to increase capacity in the meat and poultry processing industry, which strengthens regional and local food systems and provides producers more options to market their products. In total, the Biden-Harris Administration has awarded nearly $500 million in loans and grants to help over 300 businesses expand their operations.

For example, USDA awarded $98 million in grants to 36 independent processors through the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP) in 2023. USDA also partnered with 29 lenders in 2023 to invest another $190 million to help independent meat and poultry processors start and expand businesses under the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program (MPILP).

USDA also made headway on strengthening enforcement under the Packers and Stockyards Act, finalizing a rule in November to improve transparency for farmers who have contracts with major poultry processors. This rule helps contract broiler chicken growers compete more effectively and guard against deceptive practices in their relationships with major processing companies. This is the first in a series of rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act USDA that is working to finalize. Additionally, USDA advanced other efforts to enhance competition in agricultural markets, including by standing up a Cattle Contract Library pilot program, forming a new partnership with more than 30 bipartisan State Attorneys General to address anti-competitive practices raising prices and reducing choices in food and grocery markets, piloting a new Farmer Seed Liaison Initiative, and furthering its enforcement partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice. USDA also proposed a rule to help consumers know what they’re getting when they buy meat or poultry labeled “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA.”

Underpinning all of this, U.S. agricultural producers continued a three-year streak of record farm income and three years of record agricultural exports. The last three years of cumulative farm income are the best in 50 years. USDA and the Biden-Harris Administration continue to take on initiatives to grow and diversify U.S. export markets, for example through the recently created Regional Agricultural Promotion Program, to maintain this momentum as much as possible in the years to come.