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Kansas cuts fine against hog farmer for unapproved building

Kansas regulators have slashed a fine against a northwest Kansas swine operation for ignoring orders to halt the construction of unauthorized facilities capable of holdings tens of thousands of hogs. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment slashed ...

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Kansas cuts fine against hog farmer for unapproved building

Kansas regulators have slashed a fine against a northwest Kansas swine operation for ignoring orders to halt the construction of unauthorized facilities capable of holdings tens of thousands of hogs. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment slashed ...

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FDA Comments on less antibiotic use.

The FDA has reported that sale of animal antibiotics has dropped by a third between 2016 & 2017. The following statement comes from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on the news. Every year, at least two million Americans are sickened by serious infections caused by antimicrobial-resistant (AMR...

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JBS employees agree to contract extension, pay increase

Hundreds of workers at a Greeley-based meat processing company have ratified a contract extension that will include annual pay raises and continued health coverage. The Greeley Tribune reports the current agreement for workers at JBS USA, which was negotiated in 2015, expires in July. The exten...

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Ag Must Be Part Of U.S.-EU Trade Deal, Groups Insist

WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 18, 2018 – An ad hoc coalition of more than 50 food and agriculture organizations is insisting that any trade deal between the United States and the European Union include agriculture and that it address the EU’s restrictive tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. farm prod...

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NCGA: USDA Trade Aid Comes Up Short, Again

The National Corn Growers Association expressed disappointment that corn farmers impacted by trade tariffs and ongoing trade uncertainty would receive virtually no relief through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Market Facilitation Program (MFP). NCGA’s comments follow USDA’s ann...

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Crops

NCGA: USDA Trade Aid Comes Up Short, Again

The National Corn Growers Association expressed disappointment that corn farmers impacted by trade tariffs and ongoing trade uncertainty would receive virtually no relief through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Market Facilitation Program (MFP). NCGA’s comments follow USDA’s announcement of the second round of MFP payments, again setting the payment rate for corn at just one cent per bushel, despite the fact that corn farmers have suffered an average 44 cent per bushel loss since tariffs were first announced. “Farmers of all crops have felt the impact of trade tariffs,” said NCGA President Lynn Chrisp. “NCGA appreciates the progress the administration has made to advance ethanol, reach a new agreement with Mexico and Canada and move forward on negotiations with Japan, but the benefits of these efforts will take time to materialize and farmers are hurting now.” “One cent per bushel is woefully inadequate to even begin to cover the losses being felt by corn farmers. USDA did not take into account the reality that many of our farmers are facing,” Chrisp added. In a November 19 letter to USDA Secretary Perdue, Chrisp stressed the disappointment around USDA’s approach to calculating MFP payments. Many farmers felt it was too narrow in scope and did not capture real-time impacts of trade disruptions. NCGA called on USDA to add ethanol and distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) to the calculation of damages for corn, roughly $254 million. The organization also asked that farmers who suffered production losses from disasters be allowed to use an alternative to 2018 production for their MFP calculation, ensuring those suffering losses from natural disasters would not be penalized twice. These requests were repeated in subsequent conversations between NCGA and administration officials but ultimately ignored in USDA’s final payment calculation for round two. According to an NCGA-commissioned economic analysis, corn farmers suffered a 44 cent per bushel loss in the price of corn from the beginning of May, right before tariffs were announced, through July, when tariffs were implemented. Based on USDA yield averages and acres of corn planted, that amounts to a $6.3 billion loss to corn farmers.

NCGA Announces 2018 Yield Contest Winners

With improved seed varieties, advanced production techniques and innovative growing practices, corn growers achieved impressive yields despite weather-related adversity in the National Corn Growers Association 2018 National Corn Yield Contest. The National Corn Yield Contest is now in its 54th year and remains NCGA’s most popular program for members. “While participating in friendly competition, yield contest participants create and share information that shapes the future of the industry,” said Roger Zylstra, chair ofNCGA’s Stewardship Action Team. “Contest winners, at the state and national levels, find innovative ways to help their fellow farmers excel in a variety of situations. Emphasizing innovation both from growers and technology providers, our contest enables us to meet the growing demand for food, feed, fuel and fiber.” The 18 winners in six production categories had verified yields averaging more than 349 bushels per acre, compared to the projected national average of 178.9 bushels per acre in 2018. While there is no overall contest winner, yields from first, second and third place farmers overall production categories topped out at 477.6877 bushels per acre. “The National Corn Yield Contest serves as the first point of contact with NCGA, as entrants join the association,” said Brandon Hunnicutt, chair of NCGA’s Engaging Members Committee. “But, for so many, contest participation is just the first step in a journey. As they discover the breadth of activities NCGA carries out on the behalf of farmers, their involvement and support increases. Much as the data and ideas generated by contestants leads to advances that benefit all farmers, NCGA’s grassroots efforts join the single voices of members together to create positive change and real opportunities for our industry.” For more than half of a century, NCGA’s National Corn Yield Contest has provided corn growers the opportunity to compete with their colleagues to grow the most corn per acre, helping feed and fuel the world. This has given participants not only the recognition they deserved but the opportunity to learn from their peers. Winners receive national recognition in publications such as the NCYC Corn Yield Guide, as well as cash trips or other awards from participating sponsoring seed, chemical and crop protection companies. The winners will be honored during Commodity Classic 2019 in Orlando, Fla. Please visit National Corn Growers Association website www.ncga.com for the complete list of National and State winners. National and State winners will be announced at 10 a.m. CST. List of National winners and State winners. List of all NCYC Entrants.

(Video) FBN Insurance LLC Launches FBN Health

Farmers Business Network, the independent farmer-to-farmer network, announced FBN Health, a multi-state healthcare network for farmers, their families and their farm employees, giving farmers access to more affordable healthcare options, designed just for them. The high cost of health insurance is squeezing farmers, forcing family members to take off-farm jobs or even to leave farming altogether to afford medical care. And it's preventing young people from beginning to farm or return to their family farm. Video: Bryce Doeschot reports from Farmer2Farmer  "Healthcare is one of the greatest personal risks facing farm families - from the rising and unpredictable healthcare costs to the actual health and well-being of the family itself," said Lucas Strom, Head of Insurance at Farmers Business Network. "Our members have been asking us to find a solution that's affordable, has options and is easy to navigate, and we believe FBN Health is one giant step in the right direction." By leveraging the purchasing power of the FBN network, FBN has lowered health insurance premiums and passes those savings straight to the farmer. In many cases, FBN expects that eligible FBN members will see significant premium savings over the individual marketplace. FBN has tailored health benefit plans to meet FBN members' needs with a farmer-focused healthcare offering. FBN Health gives farmers the option of four different health plans that offer: - Health coverage for the entire farm family - including farm employees: Medical, dental and vision - Free, 24/7 telephone access to a doctor-at $0 co-pay-so farmers don't have to waste any time driving to town when there's a medical question or need - Extensive regional and national networks of providers based across the country With rising costs of health coverage, farmers need affordable health benefits that give them the chance to continue to farm as a business rather than have to make the choice among skyrocketing healthcare costs as an independent business owner, risking the health and wellness of the farm family, and their passion and livelihood. "We are strong believers that farmers deserve quality health insurance that is not at the expense of a farmers' P&L. By teaming up with Lifestyle Health, we're able to provide much lower rates for relatively healthy members of the farm family or farm employees," said Strom. "Through this approach, and the power of the FBN network, we anticipate qualified members may see up to 25 - 35 percent saving under the right circumstances. We're really excited to bring this option to farmers." This is only the beginning. Rural communities deserve better healthcare options and with FBN Health, FBN is innovating ways to bring down costs and improve health outcomes. FBN members in 11 states-Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota-can enroll at any time during the year, and members in Minnesota can enroll beginning April 1, 2019, with more states coming soon. FBN Health benefits will be made available to any FBN member group that has a minimum of two enrolled employees that has its own Tax ID Number (FEIN). Any full time employee of the group will be eligible for coverage under the program including family members (active employees) and farm hands. For more information on FBN Health, visit www.FBNHealth.com or call 800-483-6214. Creating an Independent Farm Economy to Put Farmers First The idea for the FBN network originated from farmers who wanted to create an independent, farmer-driven information and commerce network. With the launch of FBN Health, farmers are one step closer to having a totally independent full-farm profit system: from FBN Insurance, crop insurance powered by data; to FBN Direct's input ecommerce platform; to FBN Analytics comprehensive agronomic-network data analytics & decision support; to FBN Crop Marketing's premium contracts, production contracts, advisory & risk management, and price intelligence powered by a global buyer network.

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Livestock

Kansas cuts fine against hog farmer for unapproved building

Kansas regulators have slashed a fine against a northwest Kansas swine operation for ignoring orders to halt the construction of unauthorized facilities capable of holdings tens of thousands of hogs. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment slashed to $34,000 the fine levied for building confined feeding facilities in Norton and Phillips counties without permits and for ignoring the state's cease-and-desist orders to halt the work. A pair of consent agreements covering Rolling Hills Pork and Old Stone Pork dismissed a majority of the original $147,000 fine imposed in January, the department said. KDHE can demand payment of up to $25,000 from Rolling Hills Pork and as much as $21,000 from Old Stone Pork if the businesses again violate state law before October 2020.

JBS employees agree to contract extension, pay increase

Hundreds of workers at a Greeley-based meat processing company have ratified a contract extension that will include annual pay raises and continued health coverage. The Greeley Tribune reports the current agreement for workers at JBS USA, which was negotiated in 2015, expires in July. The extension will allow employees to retain their current benefits through July 2021. JBS employees were represented in union negotiations by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7. The union represents some 3,000 employees at JBS, but Nate Bernstein, one of the directors for UFCW Local 7, says not all of them always cast a vote when it comes time to ratify a new deal. Employees will get their first pay raise Monday, then will see a second pay raise in July, followed by another in July 2020

USDA Cites JBS With P&S Violation

JBS Agrees to Restitution for Producers Who Sold to Grand Island, Nebraska, Plant OMAHA (DTN) -- USDA has imposed a $50,000 civil penalty against JBS USA Food Co., also known as Swift Beef Co., and required restitution to producers after JBS' plant in Grand Island, Nebraska, did not accurately track weights, grades and prices for cattle carcasses on accounts to sellers earlier this year. The Agricultural Marketing Service conducted an investigation into allegations that JBS was not tracking the identity of carcasses purchased on a hot weight basis to ensure proper payment to sellers at the Grand Island operation. From Dec. 14, 2017, until March 31, 2018, JBS Swift failed to accurately record weights, grades and prices used to settle prices with producers, AMS said. USDA stated JBS Swift "immediately took corrective action" once the company was notified of the violations and made improvements to its carcass tracking and computer software. Under the consent decree, JBS Swift agreed to remit amounts owed to livestock producers because of the inaccurate records, and JBS was ordered to pay a $50,000 civil penalty. JBS also must ensure it doesn't slip back into failing to maintain the identity of each seller's livestock carcasses and must better maintain a true written accounting of cattle purchases and documenting each carcass weight, yield and grade. The consent decree was reached between JBS and USDA last month and approved by an administrative law judge. The amount of restitution to producers was not disclosed by USDA. However, a spokesman for JBS Swift said it was fewer than 40 producers affected. "We experienced an error in our carcass sequencing processes following a software change in early December 2017. As a result, we mistakenly overpaid some livestock sellers and underpaid others during a three-month period," said Cameron Bruett from Corporate Affairs for JBS. "Following a self-audit, we corrected the issues that led to the errors and entered into an agreement with USDA where we would not seek reimbursement from any overpaid livestock sellers and make refund payments to underpaid livestock sellers during the three-month period, Bruett said. "While this technical error was unfortunate, we are confident that we have taken the appropriate steps to correct the issue and provide an equitable solution to affected livestock sellers. Less than 40 producers were negatively impacted and many have already been reimbursed." The Organization of Competitive Markets issued a statement highlighting that many smaller producers are often forced to sell to packers based on carcass weight at the plant instead of live weight of the animal at the point of sale. Producers lose money due to shrinking during travel and delays at the plant. Then, producers have closely followed differences between livestock weights and the reported carcass weight by packers, in this case, JBS. Joe Maxwell, executive director of the Organization of Competitive Markets, said leaders at the organization were upset because a draft version of the news release did not mention restitution to producers. USDA's news release Friday afternoon included a statement from the consent decree that "JBS Swift agreed to remit amounts owed to livestock sellers resulting from the inaccurate recording of weights, grades, and prices of carcasses." Maxwell noted two JBS plants in Texas and Colorado were cited back in June for having inaccurate scales. JBS was issued a $29,000 civil penalty for problems related to that situation. OCM has criticized USDA for eliminating the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) and moving the Packers and Stockyards enforcement under the AMS. USDA also eliminated the "Farmer Fair Practice Rule," which would have made it easier for producers to sue packers for violating the Packers and Stockyards Act. "It's a huge hurdle a farmer or rancher has to get over in order to prove harm to the market in order to prove damages of how they were wronged," Maxwell said. "The farmer and rancher just have to totally rely on government to stop these types of abuses." Maxwell added, "The Packers & Stockyards Act envisioned the producer could bring their own claim against the packer." Steve Krajicek, a cattle-feeder and investor in Lincoln, Nebraska, said large packers often force smaller feeders to sell "on the carcass" weight. Smaller producers can't get live-weight bids. Feeders Krajicek works with in eastern Nebraska tracked weights of cattle leaving the feedyard and the final reports coming back from JBS on the carcass weights. He said producers are put at an immediate disadvantage when selling on the carcass. If you don't accept a carcass-weight offer, then producers have to keep feeding and then risk getting docked for cattle coming into the packer too heavy. "It just forces you to do whatever because you've got to sell because the cattle are a perishable commodity," Krajicek said, adding that producers lose income when selling based on carcass weight.

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Technology

Stabenow Applauds USDA Launch of High-Speed Internet Initiative

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry, released the following statement on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcement of a new $600 million loan and grant program to bring high-speed internet to rural communities: “I’m pleased the USDA is finally moving forward on the $600 million high-speed internet investment Congress provided in the 2018 Omnibus. Expanding high-speed internet access is vital to the growth and success of our small towns and rural communities in Michigan and across the country. I look forward to continuing to work with USDA to make these vital resources available to rural families and businesses.” The new program was made possible by a $600 million investment Congress included in the 2018 Omnibus.

Resistance Management Webinar Series Starts in January

Managing resistant pests is an increasing issue throughout crop production in Nebraska and the entire U.S. Staying updated on current strategies to manage resistant pests is critical. A new Nebraska Extension resource, the “Resistance Management Webinar Series,” will provide the most current research about resistant pests and management strategies. Live presentations will be offered on three Mondays in January and February from 7 to 8 p.m. CST. Recordings will be available for up to seven days after the live presentation. A total of three continuing education hours in integrated pest management will be available for certified crop advisors. Schedule January 14 – “Strategies for Managing Palmer Amaranth with Multiple Resistance: The Most Troublesome Weed in U.S. Agriculture” presented by Professor Jason Norsworthy of the University of Arkansas January 28 – “Principles of Fungicide Resistance: Frogeye Leaf Spot of Soybean” presented by Professor Carl Bradley of the University of Kentucky February 11 – “Moving Forward with Bt Resistance by Looking at the History of Western Corn Rootworm” presented by Dalton Ludwick, a post-doctoral associate at USDA-ARS at Virgina Tech University To register to participate in one or all three presentations please go to https://go.unl.edu/2019_rmws. Webinar recordings will be available up to seven days afterward to allow flexibility in scheduling. Questions regarding the webinar series can be directed to Amy Timmerman (atimmerman2@unl.edu) at the Holt County Extension Office 402-336-2760.

Beef Genetics Researchers Seek to Understand Technology Utilization

Beef cattle producers have a wide range of selection tools available for use in selection of breeding stock. These range from visual appraisal to EPD (expected progeny differences) and selection indexes that leverage genomic technologies. Adoption of new technologies by the beef industry has dramatically changed beef cattle selection strategies and opportunities. Beef genetics and genomic tools continue to evolve at a rapid rate. To aid the development of new selection tools and their adoption by producers, researchers seek to understand current attitudes and perceptions of industry stakeholders. Producers and industry participants are encouraged to take part in an online survey to help inform the development of a new beef cattle selection decision support tool. This work is part of the activities funded through a recent USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Critical Agriculture Research and Extension grant (2018-68008-27888) awarded to research and extension faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Kansas State University, USDA-ARS US Meat Animal Research Center and a leading genetic evaluation software developer, Theta Solutions, LLC. “Bull purchasing decisions need to account for differing marketing goals and environmental constraints to improve profitability and sustainability, but these are unique to each herd as producer-specific production goals and inputs vary considerably,” says Dr. Matt Spangler, project director and University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor. Industry research suggests that current bull purchasing decisions do not appear to use all relevant information available. Spangler adds, “Our team of leading beef genetic researchers and extension specialists aims to develop and provide software that enables beef producers to make more profitable genetic selection decisions, integrating additive and non-additive genetic effects, available resources, and firm-level economics.” The online survey of industry stakeholders will explore their knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of current and envisioned beef genetic selection tools. Survey responses will be anonymous and summarized to help develop new selection tools and training programs. The survey is accessible until December 31, 2018, at: https://kstate.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_aXJA9F3EyMfmSpf.

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Ag Policy

Ag Must Be Part Of U.S.-EU Trade Deal, Groups Insist

WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 18, 2018 – An ad hoc coalition of more than 50 food and agriculture organizations is insisting that any trade deal between the United States and the European Union include agriculture and that it address the EU’s restrictive tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. farm products. In a letter sent today to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, 53 organizations, led by the National Pork Producers Council, urged the Trump administration “to continue stressing to [the EU] that only a truly comprehensive agreement will be acceptable to the Administration and, ultimately, to the U.S. Congress.” The EU has expressed reluctance to include agriculture – as it did during earlier negotiations on the U.S.-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – knowing it would require lifting import barriers that protect EU farmers and removing regulatory measures that are scientifically unjustified or overly restrictive. Because of the EU’s barriers, the United States had a trade deficit in food and agricultural goods of nearly $11 billion last year. That deficit was $1.8 billion in 2000. “This is not because European consumers do not want American products,” the U.S. food and agriculture groups pointed out. “It is because EU tariffs and non-science-based regulations deny consumers a choice.” On pork, for example, the EU’s high tariffs and unscientific sanitary-phytosanitary measures limited U.S. pork exports to the second largest pork-consuming market in the world to less than 4,000 metric tons in 2017. The United States sends more pork to countries such as Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Singapore than it does to the EU. According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, elimination of the EU’s tariff and non-tariff barriers on U.S. pork would result in billions of dollars in new exports to Europe and would create nearly 18,000 new U.S. jobs. “The EU has played the United States like a drum in the past,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “This must stop. We expect the Trump administration to require the EU to negotiate on agriculture and to eliminate all tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. pork and other agricultural products.” “If the EU wishes to conclude a trade agreement that addresses inequities in trade between us and that ultimately will be approved by Congress, such barriers and measures that restrict U.S. agriculture’s access … must be included as part of negotiations and successfully addressed in a final agreement,” the coalition concluded.

NCGA: USDA Trade Aid Comes Up Short, Again

The National Corn Growers Association expressed disappointment that corn farmers impacted by trade tariffs and ongoing trade uncertainty would receive virtually no relief through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Market Facilitation Program (MFP). NCGA’s comments follow USDA’s announcement of the second round of MFP payments, again setting the payment rate for corn at just one cent per bushel, despite the fact that corn farmers have suffered an average 44 cent per bushel loss since tariffs were first announced. “Farmers of all crops have felt the impact of trade tariffs,” said NCGA President Lynn Chrisp. “NCGA appreciates the progress the administration has made to advance ethanol, reach a new agreement with Mexico and Canada and move forward on negotiations with Japan, but the benefits of these efforts will take time to materialize and farmers are hurting now.” “One cent per bushel is woefully inadequate to even begin to cover the losses being felt by corn farmers. USDA did not take into account the reality that many of our farmers are facing,” Chrisp added. In a November 19 letter to USDA Secretary Perdue, Chrisp stressed the disappointment around USDA’s approach to calculating MFP payments. Many farmers felt it was too narrow in scope and did not capture real-time impacts of trade disruptions. NCGA called on USDA to add ethanol and distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) to the calculation of damages for corn, roughly $254 million. The organization also asked that farmers who suffered production losses from disasters be allowed to use an alternative to 2018 production for their MFP calculation, ensuring those suffering losses from natural disasters would not be penalized twice. These requests were repeated in subsequent conversations between NCGA and administration officials but ultimately ignored in USDA’s final payment calculation for round two. According to an NCGA-commissioned economic analysis, corn farmers suffered a 44 cent per bushel loss in the price of corn from the beginning of May, right before tariffs were announced, through July, when tariffs were implemented. Based on USDA yield averages and acres of corn planted, that amounts to a $6.3 billion loss to corn farmers.

Trump Expected to Sign Farm Bill This Week

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the 2018 farm bill this week, rumored to be Thursday. The President hinted over the weekend that he would sign the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, saying “we’ll get the farm bill,” at the White House Congressional Ball. Trump said the bill was in “very, very good shape,” according to the Hagstrom Report. The House and Senate each passed the farm bill last week and Trump must sign it before December 31, 2018, when commodity title programs start to expire. The 2014 farm bill expired at the end of September, but some programs were allowed to operate beyond expiration. Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture needs further action by Congress this week. Funding for USDA and the Food and Drug Administration expire at the end of this week and federal agencies are preparing for a partial government shutdown as lawmakers and President Trump fight over spending and a border wall.

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Markets

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