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NDOT reports bridge damage in multiple regions in Nebraska

  March 21, 2019 (Lincoln, Neb.) — The Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) is reporting that at least fifteen bridges on the State highway system have washed out or have been damaged. The known bridges are: Highway 11 just south of Butte Highway 12 Mormon canal west of Niobr...

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NDOT reports bridge damage in multiple regions in Nebraska

  March 21, 2019 (Lincoln, Neb.) — The Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) is reporting that at least fifteen bridges on the State highway system have washed out or have been damaged. The known bridges are: Highway 11 just south of Butte Highway 12 Mormon canal west of Niobr...

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Nebraska Farm Bureau President, Steve Nelson, Comments on President Trump's Major Disaster Designation

Following President Trump's disaster designation for Nebraska. Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson released the following statement. “Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, and rural citizens sincerely appreciate President Trump’s actions issuing a Major Disaster Designation. Extensive floodin...

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Thanks Going to President Trump for Federal Disaster Declaration

Today, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Nebraska and ordered Federal aid to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by a severe winter storm, straight-line winds, and flooding beginning on March 9, 2019, and continuing...

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Utah advises horse owners to take precautions due to virus

Utah's state veterinarian is advising horse owners to limit travel for their animals and to take precautions because of multiple cases of an equine virus reported in neighboring Nevada. Dr. Barry Pittman says the cases reported in Nevada involve horses that traveled on rodeo circuits but that all...

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Minnesota to help Nebraska flood fight

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has signed an emergency executive order to provide aerial assistance to flood-stricken Nebraska. The order came after Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts requested Minnesota Army National Guard helicopter support. Minnesota sent one CH-47 Chinook helicopter with 10 personnel to...

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Crops

Brazil Opens Up to More U.S. Wheat Imports

U.S. wheat growers are thrilled about a joint announcement from Washington and Brazil that says the South American country will establish a 750,000-ton quota for tariff-free wheat imports. The  U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers welcome the announcement because it fulfills a longstanding obligation under Brazil’s World Trade Organization commitments. U.S. Wheat Associates Chairman Chris Kolstad says they’re grateful to the Trump Administration for championing the interests of U.S. farmers. “Specifically, we say thank you to Chief Agricultural Negotiator Gregg Doud and USDA Under Secretary Ted McKinney for prioritizing Brazil’s WTO commitments,” he says. “This new opportunity gives us a chance to build stronger relationships with Brazilian millers and a more consistent market there for U.S. wheat.” Brazil was the largest importer of wheat in Latin America, as well as the fourth-largest in the world during the 2017-2018 marketing year. The move could bring some relief to U.S. farmers who have lost export sales after President Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and slapped tariffs on major trading partners, which prompted retaliation against U.S. farm goods.

Sound Agriculture Among Winners of AgFunder's Innovation Awards

Sound Agriculture announced today that it was named one of the winners of AgFunder's Innovation Awards. The company was awarded Most Innovative US Startup Series A and Beyond in the Farm Tech Category. The announcement was made at the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit, an international conference that advances cutting edge discoveries in agriculture technology. Sound Agriculture develops sustainable crop enhancement products that tackle environmental stresses, such as drought, nutrient deficiency, and extreme temperatures. Its discovery platform rapidly identifies and optimizes new technologies that enhance the plant's natural ability to thrive, supporting crop productivity while reducing reliance on chemical inputs. With a deep understanding of the interactions between crops, soil and weather, Sound Agriculture is able to develop products that help farmers meet production, revenue and sustainability goals. "We started Sound Agriculture to find science-backed solutions to the myriad of environmental issues that farmers have to deal with today," said Eric Davidson, co-founder and CEO. "It's an honor to be recognized by AgFunder for the work we have accomplished so far. We're excited about the future and look forward to sharing new discoveries that will make a positive impact for farmers – from profitability to the health of the land." Sound Agriculture was one of 60 companies nominated for the AgFunder Innovation Awards, which recognize the innovators driving the agri-food tech industry forward. Nominees were chosen by a committee of global agrifood tech investors in four categories: Farm Tech, Supply Chain Tech, Retail & Consumer, and Resource. The winners were peer-selected through more than 5,000 industry votes. Sound Agriculture is currently supporting large scale pre-launch trialing of Source™, a foliar spray that stimulates natural microbes in the soil, causing them to unlock existing nitrogen and phosphorous so they can be used by the plant. Source improves yield and efficiency in the field, while minimizing dependence on other chemical inputs. The product is scheduled to launch in 2020.

Jury: Roundup weed killer is major factor in man's cancer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Roundup weed killer was a substantial factor in a California man's cancer, a jury determined Tuesday in the first phase of a trial that attorneys said could help determine the fate of hundreds of similar lawsuits. The unanimous verdict by the six-person jury in federal court in San Francisco came in a lawsuit filed against Roundup's manufacturer, agribusiness giant Monsanto. Edwin Hardeman, 70, was the second plaintiff to go to trial out of thousands around the country who claim the weed killer causes cancer. Monsanto says studies have established that Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate, is safe. A San Francisco jury in August awarded another man $289 million after determining Roundup caused his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A judge later slashed the award to $78 million, and Monsanto has appealed. Hardeman's trial is before a different judge and may be more significant. U.S. Judge Vince Chhabria is overseeing hundreds of Roundup lawsuits and has deemed Hardeman's case and two others "bellwether trials." The outcome of such cases can help attorneys decide whether to keep fighting similar lawsuits or settle them. Legal experts said a jury verdict in favor of Hardeman and the other test plaintiffs would give their attorneys a strong bargaining position in any settlement talks for the remaining cases before Chhabria. The judge had split Hardeman's trial into two phases. Hardeman's attorneys first had to convince jurors that using Roundup was a significant factor in his cancer before they could make arguments for damages. The trial will now proceed to the second phase to determine whether the company is liable and if so, for how much. Hardeman declined to comment outside court. "This has been a long time coming for Mr. Hardeman," said one of his attorneys, Jennifer Moore. "He's very pleased he had his day in court, and we're looking forward to phase two." Many government regulators have rejected a link between cancer and glyphosate. Monsanto has vehemently denied such a connection, saying hundreds of studies have established that the chemical is safe. Bayer, which acquired Monsanto last year, said in a statement after the verdict that it continues to "believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer." "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer," it said. Monsanto developed glyphosate in the 1970s, and the weed killer is now sold in more than 160 countries and widely used in the U.S. The herbicide came under increasing scrutiny after the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, classified it as a "probable human carcinogen" in 2015. Lawsuits against Monsanto followed. The company has attacked the international research agency's opinion as an outlier. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says glyphosate is safe for people when used in accordance with label directions. Hardeman started using Roundup products to treat poison oak, overgrowth and weeds on his Sonoma County property in the 1980s and continued using them through 2012, according to his attorneys. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2015.

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Livestock

DFA Sales Drop More Than $1 Billion in 2018

The largest dairy cooperative in the nation had a “challenging” 2018 and lost a lot in net sales numbers from the previous year. The Dairy Farmers of America cooperative held its annual meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, and reported that net sales fell by $1.1 billion during 2018. That’s a 7.5 percent decrease over 2017. Net sales in 2018 came in at $13.6 billion, while the previous year’s total was $14.7 billion. As most industry folks expected, the decrease is primarily due to lower milk prices. The all U.S. milk price was 8.2 percent lower than the previous year. Prices averaged $16.20 per hundredweight in 2018 compared with $17.65 per hundredweight the previous year. The cooperative’s net income came in at $108.5 million for 2018. That’s an $18.9 million dollar drop from 2017’s income total of $127.4 million. DFA President and CEO Rick Smith says the past year was challenging for many in the dairy farmer community. “However, DFA remains focused on bringing value to our members,” Smith says. “From marketing members’ milk and offering valuable farm services, to expanding our global presence and making strategic investments to strengthen our commercial portfolio, we’re committed to ensuring a strong and sustainable cooperative.” Despite facing challenges in domestic demand, DFA invested in a new cheese and whey processing facility in Michigan during 2018.

Utah advises horse owners to take precautions due to virus

Utah's state veterinarian is advising horse owners to limit travel for their animals and to take precautions because of multiple cases of an equine virus reported in neighboring Nevada. Dr. Barry Pittman says the cases reported in Nevada involve horses that traveled on rodeo circuits but that all the specifics of possible exposure in Utah aren't clear. Nevada agriculture officials have ordered the quarantine of several horses that tested positive for an equine herpes virus after the state high school rodeo last month in Pahrump. The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food says the virus is usually spread by direct horse-to-horse contact through the respiratory tract and nasal secretions but that it can also move indirectly through contact with physical objects that have virus contamination.

(Video) Nebraska National Guard airdrops hay to cattle

In an effort to get feed to isolated cattle, the Nebraska Army National Guard used a helicopter to drop prairie hay bales near Richland, Nebraska. Nebraska Army National Guard Soldiers used a CH-47 Chinook helicopter to secure multiple bales of hay and airdrop them to cattle isolated by historic flooding across the state. Video: Operation Prairie Hay Drop (Nebraska National Guard video by Spc. Lisa Crawford) The Nebraska National Guard has been supporting the ongoing response in Eastern Nebraska following massive flooding on the state’s river systems which began March 13, 2019 and has caused catastrophic damage to the state’s infrastructure, agriculture and personal property. (Nebraska National Guard video by Spc. Lisa Crawford) Pictures by: Spc. Lisa Crawford [gallery ids="373975,373976,373977"]

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Technology

Study Aims to Keep Water Safe From Phosphorus, Sediment

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State University researcher Colby Moorberg has his eyes on several miles of the Big Blue and Little Blue rivers, the two major waterways meandering their way to Tuttle Creek Reservoir in northeast Kansas. Moorberg, an assistant professor in the K-State Department of Agronomy, is studying the trees and grassways lining the streambanks, trying to figure out just how well they may be keeping dangerous pollutants out of the river. “Phosphorus and sediment are two of the major concerns that have been outlined in the Kansas Water Plan,” Moorberg said. Moorberg is in the second of a two-year project looking at how well buffer strips essentially soak up phosphorus and sediment before those pollutants can get into waterways. In addition to the Big Blue and Little Blue, he’s also looking at the Republican River that feeds into Milford Lake, near Junction City. Phosphorus is best known for creating an environment in which toxic algae blooms can form in water, making it unsafe for recreation and other human and livestock uses. Milford Lake was closed to the public at various times the past two years due to dangerous levels of algae blooms. Sediment is the soil or other organic material that fills the bottom of a waterway, especially during times when streambanks erode. Sediment prevents reservoirs from storing more water, which is a concern considering that most reservoirs are designed to aid in flood protection for nearby communities. “The one thing I was curious about is that these buffer strips have been a common practice for 30 years, and they’re still being put in, but no one has done a long-term assessment of them, to see if they fully function the way that we expected them to,” Moorberg said. Buffer strips are thought to be a good way to absorb pollutants as they move across the ground. The two most common are grassed buffer strips (called filter strips), and forested (called riparian buffer strips). Moorberg set up a study in which he is looking at grassed and forested strips that have been installed within various timeframes – 2 to 5 years, 5 to 15 years and more than 20 years. He said one concern is whether older buffer strips have become saturated with pollutants and thus turn into a sink for pollutants to dump into nearby rivers. “The worst case scenario is if they are all becoming saturated, and if they erode at all, then they could potentially be a source of phosphorus as opposed to a sink,” he said. “That would be a bad thing.” So far, Moorberg said the researchers have a year’s worth of data. They are tracking the level of pollutants in the adjacent soils and plan to build 3-D models of the two watersheds. What he hopes to find out by the end of this year is whether the buffer strips are able to function as a natural ecosystem, even as the forested areas age. “If they do,” he said, “there’s no worry because our status quo of getting these areas started and not touching them might be the best way to manage them.” But if the older buffer strips are simply a gathering point for heavy loads of pollutants, Moorberg and his team may have to determine the best strategies to routinely remove phosphorus, either by haying grass or harvesting trees and the phosphorus contained in them. “Or we may need to do more to prevent streambank erosion,” Moorberg said. “That’s really the main mechanism by which that phosphorus that’s in the soil would be released and head downstream.” K-State’s work on this project is being done in coordination with the Kansas Forest Service, with cooperation from landowners, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources and Conservation Service and local conservation districts.

Live-Streaming Barn Tours Show Consumers Sustainable Pig Farming

National Pork Board partners with South Dakota State University to connect pig farmers with consumers nationwide DES MOINES, IOWA – March 19, 2019 – The National Pork Board is collaborating with South Dakota State University (SDSU) to “open the barn doors” on how pigs are raised. The Pork Checkoff’s Operation Main Street (OMS) speakers can include live-streaming video tours of SDSU’s Swine Education and Research Center, in Brookings, South Dakota, in presentations to local civic groups, culinary and pre-vet students, dietitians, chefs and others. The state-of-the-art SDSU teaching center features all phases of pig production and provides the latest technology for research on reproductive physiology, nutrition management and sustainability science, according to Bob Thaler, SDSU professor and a swine Extension specialist. “Virtual tours help non-traditional audiences understand today’s pork production,” Thaler said. “Our goal is to demystify how pigs are raised.” “This is an excellent example of how the pork industry can leverage resources to demonstrate responsible pig farming through transparency and to build consumer trust,” said Scott Phillips, a Missouri pork producer. The Pork Board member serves on the Pork Checkoff’s Producer and State Services Committee and also is an OMS speaker. OMS Indiana speaker Jeff Harker, DVM, featured a live tour during a recent presentation to the Northeast Chapter of the Indiana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “The live tours show how we follow the We CareSM ethical principles every day in our barns to raise healthy pigs. The tours engage the audience and generate questions that encourage conversation and learning,” Harker said. SDSU students conduct the live barn tours and participate with the OMS speakers during presentations to answer questions. Maddie Hokanson, a SDSU senior and one of the Pork Checkoff’s 2017 America’s Pig Farmers of Tomorrow, said the tours underscore how technology is driving continuous improvement in pig farming. “The live tours provide virtual face-to-face communication that show how far we’ve come with barn technology to raise healthier pigs,” Hokanson said. During 2018, OMS and SDSU conducted more than a dozen virtual tours, with a goal of conducting 30 to 40 this year.

Syngenta scientists discover one-step genome-editing technique that accelerates seed breeding

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., USA, – Syngenta researchers recently published a paper in Nature Biotechnology, an international science journal, detailing their discovery of a genome-editing technique called haploid induction editing (HI-Edit™) technology, which ultimately reduces the time it takes to develop commercial crop varieties. HI-Edit refers to the reproductive process of haploid induction (HI), which occurs naturally in wheat, corn, barley and tobacco, combined with a genome-editing technology such as CRISPR-Cas9. With HI-Edit, breeders can modify crops at various stages in the seeds research and development process without the substantial cost and time associated with introgression, the traditional method of transferring desirable genes from one crop variety into another, which can take up to seven years to fully complete. “Few commercial crop varieties are responsive to direct genetic manipulation, so until now, we have had to use techniques that take several years and cost millions of dollars,” said Tim Kelliher, Ph.D., Syngenta fellow and lead author of the paper. “With this new method, we can harness the potential of advanced genome-editing technologies to make genetic improvements faster in the varieties growers want.” While the research conducted to date has focused on field corn and sweet corn crops, there is evidence the technique could be applied to wheat. The team is also working on similar methods for the genus of plants related to cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kale that could eventually lead to breakthroughs in soybeans and tomatoes. “Our investment in R&D, combined with the talent and curiosity of our researchers, is helping bring innovations like HI-Edit to life,” said Ian Jepson, Ph.D., head of trait research and developmental biology and RTP site business head at Syngenta. “Genome editing is an important tool in the plant breeding toolbox, and discoveries in this area of research are helping us deliver on our mission to help farmers grow more resilient, higher-yielding crops.” This discovery aligns with Syngenta’s commitment to make crops more efficient, one of the tenets of The Good Growth Plan, Syngenta’s commitment to improve the sustainability of agriculture. To read the abstract, please visit https://www.nature.com/articles/s41587-019-0038-x. Join the conversation online – connect with Syngenta at Syngenta-us.com/social.

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Ag Policy

Nebraska Farm Bureau President, Steve Nelson, Comments on President Trump's Major Disaster Designation

Following President Trump's disaster designation for Nebraska. Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson released the following statement. “Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, and rural citizens sincerely appreciate President Trump’s actions issuing a Major Disaster Designation. Extensive flooding throughout large portions of the state has decimated farms, ranches, small towns, and larger metro areas alike.” “For the farm and ranch families who have experienced the loss of livestock and destruction of homes and buildings, documentation of these losses will be important for any federal aid applications. While these programs will certainly not make anyone whole, we hope this new level of federal assistance paired with the unmistakable resiliency of our citizens will help all of those affected get back on their feet.” Nebraska Farm Bureau established a Disaster Relief Fund at the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation to provide emergency aid to Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and rural communities affected by recent storms and flooding. The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit and donations to the fund may qualify as a charitable contribution for tax purposes. One hundred percent of the donations will be distributed to Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and rural communities affected by the disasters. Nebraska Farm Bureau has also developed the Agriculture Disaster Exchange (ADE). Like a “want ad” page, the ADE provides a place for Farm Bureau members to seek and offer help, as well as share information during tough times. For more information on both visit www.nefb.org/disaster.

US-China Plan New Trade Talks for Deal by End of April: WSJ

(Reuters) - Top U.S. and China negotiators are planning new rounds of talks starting next week to end a trade dispute between the two nations, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expect to fly to Beijing the week of March 25 to meet with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who will pay a return trip to Washington, D.C. the following week, the report said, citing Trump administration officials. Talks between China and the United States are in the final stages, with a target date for a deal by the end of April, according to the report here. Washington and Beijing have slapped import duties on each other’s products that have cost the world’s two of the largest economies billions of dollars, roiled markets and disrupted manufacturing and supply chains. Representatives of the U.S. Treasury and Office the U.S. Trade Representative could not be immediately reached for comment. The White House had no immediate comment.

Tentative Agreement Reached on China Trade Enforcement Mechanism

China and the U.S. have reached a tentative agreement on enforcement of a potential trade agreement between the two nations. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Friday the mechanism blocks Beijing from retaliating if the U.S. implements tariffs on Chinese products because China violated the terms of an eventual agreement, according to Politico. Seemingly, that means U.S. agricultural products would be protected from retaliation, like seen in the tit-for-tat trade war, if true. China targeted U.S. agricultural products such as pork and soybeans as part of its response to the massive list of U.S. tariffs placed on China by the Trump administration. The two sides appear to be inching closer to reach some sort of agreement. The agreement though, won’t come this month, as previously thought. The administration says a summit between the U.S. and China will not happen at the end of March as more work is needed in the negotiations. That meeting may now be postponed until June. Also, while China may agree to enforcement measures, the adage of “say one thing, do another,” applies, as many market experts will caution that China has a history of ignoring previously agreed trade rules.

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Markets

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