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Nebraska Farm Bureau Board Offers Support to Ibach

LINCOLN, NEB. – Nebraska Farm Bureau Board of Directors voted to send a letter of support for Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach as the next Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Sept. 21. The letter, se...

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Nebraska Farm Bureau Board Offers Support to Ibach

LINCOLN, NEB. – Nebraska Farm Bureau Board of Directors voted to send a letter of support for Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach as the next Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Sept. 21. The letter, se...

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Bankers: Rural Economy Continues to Struggle in 10 States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ A new report says low commodity prices and weak farm incomes are continuing to hamper the rural economy in parts of 10 Plains and Midwestern states. The Rural Mainstreet Index for the region fell to from 42.2 in August to 39.6 in September, its lowest level in 2017. The index r...

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U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $300,000 to Support AgTech Entrepreneurship efforts in Nebraska

The U.S. Department of Commerce today announced that Invest Nebraska has been awarded a $300,000 grant to focus on AgTech in Nebraska through the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program. Invest Nebraska, a public-private partnership with the Nebra...

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Group Requests More Government Control of Checkoff Programs

A group challenging the administration of checkoff programs in agriculture has asked U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue for a meeting to make its case for transparency and more federal control of those programs. In a letter to Perdue on Wednesday, Mike Weaver, president of the Organization ...

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Studies Show Ethanol Crop Residues Provide A Billion-Dollar Business Opportunity

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Two new studies show that generating energy from ethanol industry byproducts can fuel a billion-dollar business opportunity for the farm economy.  Reports from the studies are available at Iowa-based Regiona...

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Nebraska co-hosts agricultural workshop in Argentina

Sustainably intensifying agriculture to feed a growing world is a goal that nations worldwide share. The many agricultural parallels between Argentina and Nebraska make it a logical move to collaborate in research and extension, share best practices, and learn from both each others' similar experiences and unique challenges. Making progress to this end, the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) at the University of Nebraska co-hosted a workshop with the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute (DWFI), the Ministry of Agroindustry of Argentina and the National Agricultural Technology Institute (INTA) in Buenos Aires earlier this month. The collaborative multiday work session focused on high productivity agriculture with center pivot irrigation. “Argentina is a country with tremendous agricultural resources and expertise and they are looking to make even greater investments in this important sector,"  said Josh Davis, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Global Engagement, IANR. "Nebraska has been developing relationships in Argentina for some time and the workshop that we co-hosted with the Ministry of Agroindustry provided additional opportunities to collaborate across our mission areas of education, research, and extension and to tie this engagement to economic development opportunities for our state." Representatives from various sectors of the Argentine government across agriculture and water, researchers and practitioners from INTA, as well as producers from several provinces attended the workshop. The Nebraska delegation included experts from various areas of the university, including the Departments of Biosystems Engineering, Agronomy and Horticulture, Agricultural Economics, the School of Natural Resources, DWFI leadership, IANR leadership, as well as a manager of a Nebraska Natural Resources District (NRD). These faculty presented and participated in working groups in areas of Nebraska expertise like irrigation management, intensifying crop production, groundwater monitoring and characterization as well as governance. Roberto Lenton, Founding Director (previous) of the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute and professor of biological systems engineering at Nebraska and Daniel Prieto, a water management and agriculture researcher at the Santiago del Estero Agricultural Experiment Station of INTA, moderated the workshop, which was live-translated in Spanish and English. The results of the workshop included preliminary policy recommendations and concept notes for each of the identified thematic areas. The workshop shaped a vision on irrigation and water use for agricultural production, helping to establish high productivity and sustainable irrigation agriculture as national priorities in Argentina. At the close of the days proceedings, it was clear that a solid foundation had been laid for future collaboration. As with the rest of IANR’s strategic global engagement, having multi-faceted involvement with a country is key to a long-lasting, meaningful partnership. Jesse Korus, groundwater hydrologist with the School of Natural Resources, stayed after the workshop to explore research partnerships with geologists at the Federal University of La Plata, where Baily Lathrop, a student in the Nebraska's Earth and Atmospheric Sciences program, happened to be completing her stay as a Fulbright scholar. Sustainable irrigation development and agricultural management are growing as priorities in Argentina to ensure future water and food security. With a highly productive, yet sustainably managed irrigated agricultural system and unique approach to groundwater governance through the Natural Resources District system, Nebraska stood out to Argentina as a logical example from which to learn. In the last year, a number of Argentine officials and representatives from national and provincial governments have visited Nebraska to experience the state’s agricultural and water management systems firsthand, and to explore areas of mutual interest with the University of Nebraska. This included signing a letter of agreement between the Ministry of Agroindustry and the university. Subsequently, a Nebraska delegation visited Argentina in October 2016 to explore further areas of mutual interest and to develop a partnership in water and agriculture that aligns with the countries' mutual interests. These close ties, in addition to their academic and applied value in irrigation and groundwater management, also contribute to expanding economic opportunity for Nebraska across several agricultural industries: from irrigation equipment to beef genetics and beyond. For more information about future collaborations between Nebraska and Argentina, please contact Josh Davis at

Syngenta and Coalition for Urban/Rural Environmental Stewardship produce pollinator stewardship film

GREENSBORO, N.C., USA, Sept. 21, 2017 – The Coalition for Urban/Rural Environmental Stewardship (CURES), with support from Syngenta, today released an educational film showcasing best-management practices (BMPs) for protecting pollinators on farms and urban landscapes. “Because farmland treated for pests is often shared by pollinators, it is important to help farmers and pesticide applicators understand how best to control damaging crop pests, while minimizing the impact on pollinators,” said Parry Klassen, executive director, CURES, and the film’s producer and narrator. “Additionally, proper pesticide use should protect pollinators’ forage and habitat.” In the film, “Pollinators and Pesticide Stewardship,” Klassen shares BMPs set forth in the brochure of the same name. These guidelines include reading and following pesticide label directions and precautions—and using integrated pest management (IPM), an approach that takes into account the unique chemical, cultural, mechanical and biological aspects of a farmer’s operation to inform a customized pest-management program. “Many crops are dependent upon the pollination role provided by bees and other pollinators, and it is incumbent on farmers and crop input providers to protect pollinators, while managing crop pests and improving crop yields,” said Caydee Savinelli, pollinator and IPM stewardship lead, Syngenta. “Delivering crop protection products brings the responsibility to educate farmers and applicators on BMPs for using these important inputs in a safe and environmentally sustainable way.” This film reflects the latest project resulting from a long-standing collaboration between Syngenta and CURES—a relationship built on the common goal of proactive pesticide stewardship. Since CURES’ inception 20 years ago, Syngenta has worked with the organization to sponsor educational outreach efforts on a wide range of topics relating to health, safety and the environment. For more information about Syngenta’s commitment to pollinator health, visit Join the conversation online – connect with us

CME Group Named 'International Exchange of the Year for Asia' by Global Investor Group for the fifth time in six years

SINGAPORE, Sept. 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- CME Group, the world's leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, announced the company was named 'International Exchange of the Year for Asia' by Global Investor Group at the FOW and Global Investor Asia Capital Markets Awards 2017. The awards ceremony held in Singapore today recognized CME Group's excellence for the products and services launched for the Asian market and for the significant volume growth it has achieved in the past year. "We are honored to receive this award, which further cements our position as the local global derivatives exchange in the region," said Terry Duffy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, CME Group. "Today's win is also further recognition that our continued focus on customers has paid off, and we thank them for their support and feedback over the past year." "Asia is a key pillar to our international growth strategy, with volumes from the region up 15 per cent in 2016," said Christopher Fix, Managing Director and Head of Asia Pacific, CME Group. "With our continued investments in new products and services, we are well-positioned to help our customers in Asia with their evolving risk management needs." "CME Group returned to take the International Exchange of the Year for Asia award this year for the fifth time in six years following another impressive year of investment in the Asian markets," said William Mitting, Managing Director, Global Investor Group. "Among other achievements, judges flagged CME Group's deepening of partnerships with regional exchanges and its extensive trader education programs across the region." Over the past twelve months, CME Group has continued to deliver on its commitment to clients in Asia Pacific with relevant and innovative products, including the launch of the Australian Wheat FOB (Platts) Futures contract, the expansion of its suite of palm risk management products, as well as its collaboration with TAIFEX to list S&P 500 and DJIA Futures contracts in Taiwan. In the past year, CME Group was granted the status of Foreign Clearing Organization (FCO) in Japan, enabling its clearing house division – CME Clearing – to clear non-Yen interest rate swap on behalf of Japan-based financial institutions. CME Group was also granted Recognized Clearing House (RCH) status by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, allowing CME Clearing to sign up direct clearing members from Singapore for clearing of both exchange-traded futures and options, as well as over-the-counter derivatives. The FOW and Global Investor Asia Capital Markets Awards is held annually to recognize the best of the Asian derivatives industry, where entries and nominations for the Awards are evaluated by a panel of industry experts drawn from across the market in a range of disciplines.

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Group Requests More Government Control of Checkoff Programs

A group challenging the administration of checkoff programs in agriculture has asked U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue for a meeting to make its case for transparency and more federal control of those programs. In a letter to Perdue on Wednesday, Mike Weaver, president of the Organization for Competitive Markets, said the group has uncovered a number of issues with the programs. OCM filed a lawsuit in 2014 demanding the release of some 9,300 pages of documents related to the USDA's Office of the Inspector General investigation into the beef checkoff program. The documents stem from two OIG audits of the beef checkoff and its contractors, including the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. For years, questions have been raised by groups such as OCM about whether millions in checkoff dollars are used properly by industry representatives. The OIG's first audit report did find contractors to be in compliance with laws that protect checkoff funds. Then OIG issued a corrected final report that withdrew that finding. In the letter to Perdue, Weaver said his group has found additional problems with another checkoff program. "OCM, working with other organizations, has uncovered the most recent issue within the dairy checkoff program," the letter said. "According to federal law (7 US CODE §4514), the program is required to submit an annual report to Congress outlining the expenditures, activities and effectiveness of the program. This report has not been drafted nor filed for five years, keeping dairy producers in the dark about how their hundreds of millions of tax dollars have been spent over this time period. This is just one example of the lack of transparency and accountability of the checkoff programs." Weaver said checkoff programs collect nearly $750 million in taxes from farmers and ranchers and "yet the government - their government - fails to provide the basic safeguards for these tax dollars as it does for other taxes collected." OCM has requested the release of USDA documents related to a 2012 audit of the beef checkoff. "Unfortunately, USDA refused to do so, leaving OCM with no other option but to bring a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) complaint in an effort to force transparency," Weaver said. "It is important to note that these mandatory checkoff fees are collected by agencies of the USDA and are the responsibility of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to oversee as clearly outlined on AMS's own website: 'AMS provides oversight, ensuring fiscal responsibility, program efficiency and fair treatment of participating stakeholders.'" Weaver said in the letter that checkoff funds are not producer funds, "but are government funds derived from farmers and ranchers paying a mandatory fee to the government," meaning USDA "has the responsibility to ensure the checkoff programs are accountable, transparent and without conflicts of interest. "Yet, the previous administration failed to do so," the letter said. "Mr. Secretary, OCM and the family farmers and ranchers who pay into these government programs respectfully request a meeting with you. We believe you have a unique opportunity. It was the previous administration that failed the farmers and you now have a chance to make these programs work for those who are paying these taxes." The group has requested the meeting prior to USDA turning over administration of the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, or GIPSA, to the AMS. "Further, we request you delay your final decision to move the administration of GIPSA to AMS until the conclusion of this meeting," Weaver said in the letter. "This will allow America's family farmers, ranchers and dairy producers a chance to be heard." The USDA initially conducted an audit of the beef checkoff program in 2013. The OCM filed a FOIA request and the OIG withdrew the audit and re-released it in 2014. The initial audit included a statement saying The National Cattlemen's Beef Association was in full compliance. When the audit was re-released in 2014, the statement was removed. NCBA has questioned OCM's motives because it receives funding from the Humane Society of the United States. Read the OCM letter here:…  

ASI Accepting Nominations for Annual Awards

DENVER - "We have brilliant and dedicated people and organizations in the sheep business that do impressive things with sheep production or lamb and wool processing and marketing," said ASI President Mike Corn. "We wanted to test the interest in a new award that would recognize innovations in the sheep business. ASI awards have traditionally recognized service and media coverage associated with the organization, so this Industry Innovation Award is an exciting addition." Nominations for the accolade - as well as ASI's traditional awards - are now open. The deadline for nominations is Nov. 13. The Industry Innovation Award will recognize the accomplishments of an individual or organization that improves the American sheep industry in a game-changing way, regardless of whether its impact is felt at the regional, state or national level. There are four other awards also open for nominations: The McClure Silver Ram Award, the Camptender Award, the Distinguished Producer Award and the Shepherd's Voice Award. The McClure Silver Ram Award is dedicated to volunteer commitment and service and is presented to a sheep producer who has made substantial contributions to the sheep industry and its organizations in his/her state, region or nation. The award may recognize a lifetime of achievement or may recognize a noteworthy, shorter-term commitment and service to the industry. Nominees should be recognized as industry leaders with nominations spelling out the candidates' contributions to the industry and its producers. Producers should be actively involved in sheep production and may or may not produce sheep as their sole income. However, their nominations should not be based in any part on a paid position serving the sheep industry. The Camptender Award recognizes industry contributions from a professional in a position or field related to sheep production. Nominees should show a strong commitment and a significant contribution to the sheep industry, its organizations and its producers above and beyond what is called for in his/her professional capacity. Nominees should be well respected in their fields by their peers and by sheep producers. Nominees may be involved with the industry as teachers, consultants, scientists, youth leaders, promoters, event managers, journalists or any other position directly related to the sheep industry, enabling the nominee to affect the sheep industry in a positive and long-lasting way. Nominees may be recognized for lifetime service to the sheep industry or may be recognized for a shorter-term commitment that resulted in significant benefits for the sheep industry. The Distinguished Producer Award was launched in 2014 to recognize the 150th anniversary of the national organization - the oldest livestock association in the country. This award is a way to recognize an individual who has had a significant long-term impact on the industry, including involvement with the National Wool Growers Association or American Sheep Producers Council, the predecessor organizations to ASI. The Shepherd's Voice Award for Media recognizes outstanding year-long coverage of the sheep industry by either print or broadcast outlets. The award excludes all publications and affiliates related solely to the sheep industry, allowing for recognition of outlets with general coverage for excellence in covering sheep industry issues. Nominations may be publications, networks or specific reporters exhibiting a strong commitment to balanced reporting and consistent coverage of the sheep industry locally, statewide and/or nationally. Nominations must be submitted to the ASI national headquarters by Nov. 13, and past recipients of these awards are not eligible. Awards will be presented at the ASI Annual Convention, Jan. 31-Feb. 3 in San Antonio. To receive an application, call or email: 303-771-3500 or The one-page nomination form can also be downloaded at

Beef Cattle Contribute to Sustainable Food System

A recent study by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization says cattle raised for beef production play a key role in maintaining a sustainable food system. Meat industry publication Meatingplace reports that the research essentially counters claims that beef production consumes too much human-edible feed, finding that cattle are net contributors to the global protein supply, and concludes that “modest yield improvements” can reduce further land expansion for feed production. The research shows that 86 percent of the feed cattle consume is grasses grown on marginal lands, not edible to humans. The study says: “Livestock play, and will continue to play, a critical role in adding value to these residual products, a large share of which could otherwise be an environmental burden.”

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(VIDEO) Vermeer Introduces World's First Self-Profelled Round Baler

Vermeer continues to lead innovation in the hay and forage industry by introducing the world's first self-propelled round baler. Unveiled at Husker Harvest Days, the prototype ZR5 self-propelled baler promises to make quick work of any field while offering unprecedented ride quality and maneuverability. "Our patent-pending suspension technology allows operators to better handle the bumps and jostling that naturally comes with baling hay," said Josh Vrieze, Vermeer product manager. "If you think about all those bumps over the course of the day or multiple days, ride quality can really impact the operator. In the ZR5, operators experience a smoother, more comfortable ride with the cab uniquely positioned over the suspension." With a nod to the lawn care industry, Vermeer has applied zero-radius turning to the steering system in the self-propelled machine. This feature allows operators to gain better maneuverability and driving efficiency than a conventional tractor-baler combination. "Operators can spend less time turning in the field and more time baling. The zero-radius turning can eliminate skipping a windrow to make the turn or swinging out wide to get into the next windrow," adds Vrieze. "And, when it's time to head to the next field, zero-radius turning can be disengaged. Folks who have operated other self-propelled machines will appreciate the dual steering functionality; with the zero-turn disengaged, the operator steers the ZR5 using the front wheels for a smooth, confident ride." While still a prototype, automating the baling process, as well as providing the ability to automatically make real-time adjustments based on field, crop and operator inputs, are just a couple of the goals Vermeer has for the ZR5. Integrated quarter-turn technology is part of the ZR5 baling automation process. During the tie-cycle, the machine can automatically rotate to the left or right, positioning the bale parallel to the windrow upon ejection. When placing bales parallel to the windrow, the picking up process can be completed up to 35 percent faster. Keeping machine maintenance simple is another objective Vermeer is striving to achieve. The bale chamber can be removed for maintenance in a matter of minutes, helping to ensure producers are spending time productively in the field. "Farmers and ranchers are facing one of the same challenges they did in 1971 when Gary Vermeer introduced the round baler, and that is labor," said Mark Core, Vermeer executive vice president. "As access to labor in rural areas becomes more limited, we believe the type of innovation needed to design the ZR5 will need to continue to pave the way for more efficiency, productivity and an eventual reduction in labor needed to produce the same amount of feed. I'm happy to say Vermeer is proud to be making this investment in innovation and dedicated to leading the way."

Deere to Buy Company Specializing in Artificial Intelligence for Agriculture

When John Deere looks into its crystal ball, apparently it sees not only smart machines, but also machines smart enough to learn: Artificial intelligence. That's why Deere announced Wednesday a $305 million agreement to buy Blue River Technology, a 6-year-old Silicon Valley company that specializes in artificial intelligence for agriculture. This is not Deere's first purchase of a high-tech California company. Twenty years ago, it bought NavCom Technologies, a global positioning company that became the base of Deere's satellite guidance system. More recently, Deere established an office in the San Francisco area to better tap into the Silicon Valley technology vein. WHAT THEY GOT Founded in 2011 by a couple of Stanford grad students, Jorge Heraud and Lee Redden, Blue River says its mission is to make farming more sustainable through robotics and computer vision. It already has unveiled two working models of machines that can recognize their environment and make decisions based on that recognition. Blue River's LettuceBot earned a 2017 AE50 Award from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers for its ability to roll through a field to thin lettuce for a healthier crop. Up to 20 onboard processors make more than 5,000 decisions per second, telling the LettuceBot which seedlings to save and which to destroy with spray nozzles precise to within 1/4-inch. A larger device called See & Spray uses similar technology to locate, recognize and destroy weeds in row crops. Blue River has tested the system in cotton fields in Texas and Arkansas. From a distance, the rig looks like a traditional hooded sprayer. It is 30 feet wide and can be pulled behind a tractor at up to 8 mph. Even at that speed, its sensors can see a weed, recognize it for what it is and unleash a squirt of herbicide that is accurate to within 1 inch. Testing in soybeans is next. It's easy to understand how that kind of "gee whiz" factor could attract Deere's attention. "We certainly have aspirations that the machine learning technologies that Blue River is already demonstrating in the field can help make John Deere equipment do a better job in every field," Deanna Kovar, director of production and precision ag marketing for John Deere, told DTN/The Progressive Farmer. The LettuceBot and See & Spray may eventually come to market as John Deere products; it's too early to tell. But those two potential products are not the reason Deere wants to buy Blue River. The company's "super-engaged and super-smart folks" -- as Kovar called them -- are likely more attractive in the long run. The plunge into artificial intelligence is part of Deere's game plan. It's the "next wave of allowing us to move from field level decisions to plant level decisions, and from doing it in advance to doing it on the go. And that's really exciting," Kovar said. For the moment, a Deere press release says, "Blue River will continue to operate as a standalone business with the same entrepreneurial spirit that has led to its success in applying machine learning to achieve agriculture solutions." Deere says the 60-person firm will remain in Sunnyvale, California, and hopes the transaction will close before the end of the year.  

Ram Launches New 2018 Harvest Edition

Ram is celebrating its agricultural bonds with a new model designed specifically for America's farm families. The Ram Harvest Edition is the industry's first agricultural market-specific truck and is visually distinguished by two new colors: Case IH Red and New Holland Blue. "The Ram Harvest Edition marks the first time that Ram dealers will be able to stock trucks that exactly match the colors of two of the most popular lines of farm equipment in the nation," said Mike Manley, Head of Jeep & Ram Brands – FCA Global. "Farmers have been asking for these colors, and Ram is proud to be the first in the industry to be able to offer them. The Ram Harvest Edition truck will allow farm families to get their work done while proudly showing their agricultural brand loyalty." Case IH and New Holland farm tractors and other agricultural equipment are manufactured by subsidiaries of CNH Industrial. CNH Industrial N.V. shares a common ancestry with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. The Harvest Edition will be available across the Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 lineup, in all four-door Quad, Crew and Mega Cab configurations, all box lengths and all powertrains, including 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8, 6.4-liter HEMI V-8 and 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel. Harvest Edition trucks are loaded with features that are designed to work. Among them, a ride-height increase of one inch and aggressive on/off-road tires on Ram 1500 Harvest Edition trucks are designed to help owners comfortably and confidently navigate rough farm roads and pastures. Also included in the farm-life essentials are black tubular side steps, a durable spray-in bedliner, fold-out bumper step and mud flaps, rubber floor mats, skid plates and tow hooks (4x4) and heated seats. Ram Heavy Duty models also come with on/off-road tires and add a cargo-view camera. Because Ram knows farmers are tech savvy, the Harvest Edition comes standard with an 8.4-inch Uconnect 4C touchscreen radio with navigation, 4G Wifi, Apple Car Play and Android Auto, which gives buyers seamless connectivity, fingertip access to smartphone map mirroring, and up-to-the minute weather maps and forecasts customizable to any location in the nation. The Harvest Edition features a premium exterior appearance packed with bright highlights, including a chrome "Wave Mesh" luxury cross-hair grille, bright front and rear bumpers, 17-inch chrome wheels (1500 models, 18-inch polished aluminum on Heavy Duty models), chrome mirrors, chrome door handles and chrome-tipped dual exhausts (V-8 1500 models). The Harvest package also includes body-color (or Bright Silver) wheel flares and upper facia (1500). In addition to Case Red and New Holland Blue, Harvest Edition Ram trucks are also available in Bright White and Brilliant Black. Monotone and two-tone with Bright Silver color schemes are available. Ram 1500 Harvest Edition MSRP starts at $39,910, plus $1,395 destination charge. Ram Heavy Duty models start at $46,235. Ram Harvest Edition trucks were unveiled today at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois, and go on sale in the third quarter of 2017. About Ram Truck and America's Farmers Farming continues to be a part of the foundation on which Ram's success is built. Ram stands by its commitment to the farm community, supporting the future of farming and the development of the next generation of farmers and future leaders in agriculture. From the entry-level Ram 1500 Tradesman work truck to the fully loaded Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn Heavy Duty model, America's longest-lasting pickup truck offers a range of products that appeal to both ag business and farming families. Ram also provides various affiliate reward programs supporting American agricultural customers including: Case IH and New Holland equipment purchasers, National FFA Organization members, Farmers in America farm owners and Dairy Farmers of America members.  

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Ag Policy

Nebraska Farm Bureau Board Offers Support to Ibach

LINCOLN, NEB. – Nebraska Farm Bureau Board of Directors voted to send a letter of support for Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach as the next Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Sept. 21. The letter, sent to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), emphasized Ibach’s service to Nebraska Agriculture as the Nebraska Director of Agriculture since 2005 and his service as the immediate past President of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. “Throughout his tenure, Greg has been a strong leader in promoting Nebraska agriculture products both domestically and internationally, taking an active role in trade missions and on trade policy issues. He has also directed the many regulatory functions of the department impartially and with professionalism,” Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson said. While Ibach has been a tireless leader for the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, he also continues to maintain a farm and ranch operation near Sumner, Nebraska. “I have no doubt that Greg would be an excellent addition to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s staff at the USDA, and we hope the Senate Agriculture Committee gives him due consideration. We look forward to a speedy confirmation process,” Nelson said.

NAFTA Talks Head to Canada Next Week

The third round of formal negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement gets underway next week in Canada. Round three of the talks are planned in Ottaway September 23rd through September 27th. The meeting follows the first set of talks in Washington, D.C., and the second round of talks held in Mexico City, Mexico earlier this month. However, rounds one and two were largely uneventful with little resolution on major trade issues between the NAFTA partners, and there’s a hinting from the administration that a deal may not be reached. Any negative trade impacts to agriculture would be significant. Mexico exports $23 billion of agricultural products to the U.S., while Canada exports $22 billion. Canada and Mexico are top markets for U.S. agricultural products, as well. Corn exports to Mexico alone are worth an estimated $2.6 billion, while soybean exports to Mexico from the U.S. are worth an estimated $1.5 billion. For exports to Canada, it’s estimated that the U.S. exports $4.8 billion worth of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables.

NCGA Supports Funding Increase for MAP, FMD Programs

The National Corn Growers Association praised the introduction today of the CREAATE Act, a bill to increase investment in two federal programs with a proven track record of building global demand for U.S. agricultural products. The bipartisan bill, introduced by Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana), and Susan Collins (R-Maine), would increase investment in the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development program (FMD). A companion bill was introduced in the House earlier this year. MAP and FMD are public-private partnerships that promote U.S. agriculture. Together, they are responsible for 15 percent of U.S. agricultural export revenue-$309 billion since 1977. "MAP and FMD are critical programs for building and expanding global markets for American agricultural exports. We must increase investment in these programs," said Wesley Spurlock, a Texas farmer and president of NCGA. "These programs deliver a strong return on investment. Every $1 invested in MAP and FMD generates $28 in exports-that means more American jobs, and more money coming into our communities. Now more than ever, we need to invest in export and market development programs like these to build global demand and help farmers' bottom lines," said Spurlock. Funding for MAP and FMD has not kept pace with inflation, administrative costs, the growth of the global marketplace, or the investments other countries have made in their own export promotion. The FMD program is also under threat to lose its baseline funding when the farm bill expires in 2018. The CREAATE Act would gradually increase MAP funding from $200 million to $400 million per year and FMD funding from $34.5 million to $69 million per year, over the next five years. "Thank you to Senator King, Senator Ernst, Senator Donnelly, and Senator Collins for leading the effort to strengthen the MAP and FMD programs. These programs have already been successful, but with increased investment, they can help even more American farmers and ranchers compete around the world," said Spurlock.

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