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Dry heads on green stems in wheat: A source-sink issue

Some producers have reported that the grain is dry in their wheat crop, but green stems are keeping them from being able to harvest smoothly (Fig. 1). A few different factors may be playing a role in maintaining green stems on a dry wheat head, and they relate back to the plant’s source-sink relat...

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Dry heads on green stems in wheat: A source-sink issue

Some producers have reported that the grain is dry in their wheat crop, but green stems are keeping them from being able to harvest smoothly (Fig. 1). A few different factors may be playing a role in maintaining green stems on a dry wheat head, and they relate back to the plant’s source-sink relat...

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International Dairy Groups Join U.S. in Calling for Action Against Canadian Trade Policies

(Washington, D.C. – June 27, 2017) An international coalition of 10 dairy industry organizations, including three U.S. dairy groups, is asking their governments’ trade ministers to intercede in the increasingly acrimonious dispute over Canada’s harmful dairy policies that is having global rep...

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Brazil meat inspection flaws flagged in new blow to sector

Brazil's meat industry lacks enough inspectors to ensure the product is safe, a health inspectors union said on Monday, blaming government cutbacks for what the United States has called system-wide sanitary issues. The ANFFA union renewed its longstanding criticism about budget cuts and understaf...

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NAFTA Renegotiations Must Prioritize Ag

A modernized North American Free Trade Agreement must build upon market gains for U.S. agriculture and settle remaining challenges for our nation’s farmers and ranchers in our neighboring markets, Don Shawcroft, Colorado Farm Bureau president, stated in a hearing before the U.S. Trade Representati...

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Chinese-owned Syngenta eyes Bayer assets to bolster seeds

Switzerland's Syngenta (SYNN.S), the crop protection company acquired by ChemChina, has vowed to bulk up its seeds business and join the chase for assets rival Bayer (BAYGn.DE) must sell to gain regulatory approval for its takeover of Monsanto(MON.N). Syngenta, a distant third in the global seeds...

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Crops

Dry heads on green stems in wheat: A source-sink issue

Some producers have reported that the grain is dry in their wheat crop, but green stems are keeping them from being able to harvest smoothly (Fig. 1). A few different factors may be playing a role in maintaining green stems on a dry wheat head, and they relate back to the plant’s source-sink relationship. The source (or machinery) is the sugar factory (leaves and stems), while the sink is the developing grain responsible for pulling those recently produced sugars from the leaves and stems. 1. Good management practices: greater “source” When crop management strives to provide good grain filling conditions, the crop remains green for longer periods of time as compared to a crop that is not well managed. Examples include greater nitrogen rates and foliar fungicides, which will often delay plant maturity (Fig. 2). Figure 2. Maintenance of green leaf area due to an additional 40 lbs N/acre and two foliar fungicides (upper panel) versus no extra fungicide (lower panel). Photos by Romulo Lollato, K-State Research and Extension. 2. Late-moisture, cool conditions Grain filling conditions for most of April, May, and early June were very favorable with above-average precipitation and below-average temperatures. These conditions will favor the maintenance of the photosynthetic machinery of the plant for a longer period of time as compared to hot, dry conditions, which hasten crop development. 3.Frozen or hailed-out crop: lower “sink” If the number of kernels is decreased by environmental factors such as a spring freeze that damaged floret fertility and development, or by hail damage that physically removed spikelets from the spike, the sink strength of the crop is decreased proportionately to the number of grains decreased. With less strength to pull the sugars from leaves and stems, there is a chance that stems might remain green while grains are ripe and ready for harvest. Another reality in many fields this year is late-developing tillers that also have green heads at this time. Areas of Kansas that received significant rainfall in late May might show growth of late-developing tillers. Where this has occurred, there is essentially a second canopy of green heads usually slightly below the main canopy of ripe heads (Figure 3). Typically, heads that form this late in the season add very little to the overall yield of a field. If these late, green heads are not close to being ready to harvest when the majority of the crop has dried down, then it’s best to start harvesting the field anyway. Waiting for the green heads to mature would risk grain losses due to shattering or hail damage. Most of the immature grain and green plant parts will go out the back of the combine when the crop is harvested, but enough green material may go into the bin to increase the dockage and overall moisture level of the load of wheat to some extent. Combine settings can help minimize problem, but not eliminate it. Producers who are harvesting wheat with some green heads present should take special care to measure the moisture content of the grain if they plan to store it on farm, and dry the grain aggressively if the moisture content is high. Figure 3. Green heads from late-developing tillers interspersed with mature heads nearing harvest in Ellsworth County. Photo by Brent Goss, former agent, K-State Research and Extension.

Monsanto Statement on Arkansas Plant Board Decision on Dicamba

Helping farmers protect their crops from troublesome weeds is a big focus for many modern agriculture companies, including Monsanto. Make no mistake about it: on the farm, weeds are much more than just an eye sore. They grow big and spread fast. They steal sunlight, water, and nutrients from crops. To effectively manage weeds, farmers need access to a variety of crop protection tools and methods. With that, I’m troubled by the Arkansas State Plant Board’s recommendation to deprive Arkansas farmers of an important crop protection tool in the middle of a growing season, especially in light of not hearing directly from those farmers this recommendation impacts. Below is my company’s statement on the matter. I encourage impacted farmers to share their concerns with Governor Hutchinson. Regards, Robb Fraley Monsanto Statement: Today, the Arkansas State Plant Board recommended an action that will prevent farmers from having access to all of the available weed control options.  The recommendation made by the Plant Board to ban the use in Arkansas of the only remaining dicamba product previously approved for in-crop use with dicamba-tolerant crops blatantly ignores the interests of Arkansas farmers. The Plant Board’s decision was made without hearing directly from farmers about the impact of removing a valuable weed-management tool, without providing sufficient notice to the public and without allowing the opportunity for public input. The Plant Board did not allow farmers to describe how the Board’s mid-season action to abruptly remove a valuable weed management tool would affect their operations in connection with the approximately 1.5 million acres of dicamba-tolerant seed already planted throughout Arkansas.   Instead the Board based its decision on off-target movement claims that are still being investigated and have not been substantiated. Based on a prior decision by the Plant Board, Monsanto has not sold any dicamba products within Arkansas. Experience in the other 33 states where farmers have access to and the ability to fully use dicamba herbicide technology would indicate that decisions to prevent the full usage of dicamba technology have not been beneficial to Arkansas farmers. Arkansas farmers should not be forced to continue to operate at a disadvantage to farmers in other states where bans like the Board’s current proposed action do not exist. The Plant Board’s proposed ban now moves to the Governor’s office for consideration. We encourage all impacted farmers to reach out to Governor Hutchinson to share their concerns about the effects this decision will have on their operations. It is critical that the State hear from those most impacted by this proposed ban.

Winter Wheat Harvest Now In Full Swing Across Kansas

According to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, for the week ending June 25, 2017, winter wheat harvest was in full swing across the state. Winter wheat condition rated 8 percent very poor, 15 poor, 31 fair, 40 good, and 6 excellent. Winter wheat mature was 85 percent. Harvested was 48 percent, behind 53 last year, but near 47 for the five-year average.   Harvest has been going since June 15 in Larned, Kansas, according to Kim Barnes, CFO and Grain Merchandiser of Pawnee County Coop Association. Although there has been some severe weather in the area like hail damage, farmers have taken in over two million bushels of wheat to the elevator and are more than 60 percent finished.   "We've been test cutting today due to a rain delay, but we should get back in the field hopefully tomorrow," Barnes said.   Proteins have been ranging around 10 to 11 in the area, he reported. Disease has been an issue for many counties in Kansas this year, and two big ones have been leaf rust and wheat streak mosaic virus.   "I've seen a little bit of everything for disease," said Barnes.   He said yields have been above average this harvest, even with the severe weather, and moisture has jumped up quite a bit.   "Overall, harvest has been above average this year. Prices have been better compared to last year. Last week we saw prices up to $3.80 and even hit $4.01," he said.   In Luray, Kansas, Jennifer Princ, branch manager at Midway Coop, said harvest has been going on since June 13.   "Harvest has seemed to drag on this year due to the scattered showers," she said. Around 60 percent of wheat has been taken in, and Princ is hopeful they will be done with harvest soon. Yields have been averaging 55, but she said she has heard anywhere from 15 to 85. Test weights have been a little scattered due to rain, but before the big rain hit, they were averaging around 61. Proteins have stayed around 10.95 all throughout harvest, she added. Princ said she has seen a lot of wheat streak mosaic virus and barley yellow dwarf in her area.   In Natoma, Kansas, Dale Beisner, Location Coordinator at Midland Marketing, said they are about halfway done with harvest.   "Yields have gone anywhere from 20 to 70, so you take your pick," said Beisner. Test weights have been averaging 61 ½, and proteins have been around 10.5 for the area. Harvest in Natoma has been rolling since Monday, June 19. Beisner also reported wheat streak mosaic virus. "Mosaic has been our main disease issue in the area for sure," said Beisner. Brian Bigler, branch manager of ADM Grain in Trousdale, Kansas, said they have only had to stop harvest twice, due to long days and a rain delay. He reported yields have been ranging in the mid 40's, and test weights were 59-60. 160 percent of the average for wheat in the area has already been taken in, so he believes they will be done with harvest soon. Proteins have been around 10.8, he added. He also mentioned leaf rust was a problem in that area. The 2017 Harvest Report is brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Grain and Feed Association. For exclusive #wheatharvest17 content, please head to facebook.com/kansaswheat.

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Livestock

International Dairy Groups Join U.S. in Calling for Action Against Canadian Trade Policies

(Washington, D.C. – June 27, 2017) An international coalition of 10 dairy industry organizations, including three U.S. dairy groups, is asking their governments’ trade ministers to intercede in the increasingly acrimonious dispute over Canada’s harmful dairy policies that is having global repercussions. The groups co-signed a joint letter today requesting that their respective trade ministries “pursue all avenues available to challenge these measures, including WTO dispute settlement and bilateral trade agreement relationships.” The U.S. dairy sector, represented by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), together with seven dairy groups from Argentina, Australia, the European Union, Mexico and New Zealand, is insisting that Canada remove the recently implemented policies that are facilitating the dumping of Canadian dairy products in the international market, while making already prohibitive Canadian restrictions on dairy imports even more onerous. “IDFA will use every opportunity to urge administration officials and legislators who are working to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to tackle these unfair, illegitimate and protectionist policies,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO. Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO, said that “Canada’s revised dairy policy amounts to a ‘beggar-thy-neighbor’ approach, damaging not just its neighbor to the south, but also causing harm to other major dairy exporting countries around the world. This policy must stop now, before any more damage is done to American farmers and those from other nations seeking to compete on a level global playing field.” “Canada has been adopting policies that run counter to our longstanding agreements and upending what has until recently been a mutually beneficial trade relationship,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. “Our trade agreements must be honored and not ignored—or worse—by our closest neighbor.” In February, Canada implemented a special milk Class 7 pricing policy that artificially lowers milk ingredient prices for Canadian processors and is designed to incentivize the substitution of domestic Canadian dairy ingredients for imported ingredients, while also pushing Canadian proteins out onto world markets at below-market prices. The result of this policy is the widely reported cancellation of purchases by Canadian cheese makers of U.S.-sourced ultra-filtered (UF) milk, and the even more damaging ability of Canadian exporters to sell milk proteins globally at a much lower price, thereby undercutting exports from the U.S. and the other countries. It is due to this latter impact that dairy groups in multiple countries have been expressing opposition to Canada’s new system. The letter was sent to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, as well as to Argentina and Australia’s Ministers for Trade, Mexico’s Secretary of Economy, the EU Commissioner for Trade, and New Zealand’s Minister of Trade. In addition to the U.S. dairy leaders, the letter was signed by the CEOs of the European Association of Dairy Trade (Eucolait), European Whey Products Association (EWPA), European Dairy Association (eda), Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ), Camara Nacional De Industriales de la Leche (CANILEC), the Centro De La Industria Lechera (CIL), and the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC). “Our respective dairy industries are firmly of the view that the operation of Ontario’s Class 6 and Canada’s Class 7 contravene Canada’s international commitments,” the letter reads in part. “Canada's increasingly protectionist policies are diverting trade with attendant global price-depressing impacts, and are in conflict with the principles of free markets and fair and transparent trade. We therefore request the authorities of Argentina, Australia, the EU, Mexico, New Zealand, and the US to take all steps available to them to resolve this issue and ensure that Canada complies with its international obligations. “ Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue conducted a series of meetings with Canadian officials, raising the points of disagreement and reinforcing that these issues need to be resolved, particularly in light of the renegotiation of NAFTA.

Brazil meat inspection flaws flagged in new blow to sector

Brazil's meat industry lacks enough inspectors to ensure the product is safe, a health inspectors union said on Monday, blaming government cutbacks for what the United States has called system-wide sanitary issues. The ANFFA union renewed its longstanding criticism about budget cuts and understaffing after the United States blocked Brazilian fresh beef shipments late last week, saying it found abscesses in the meat and signs of systemic failure of inspections. The ban, twinned with the disclosure that the European Union had found E.coli and salmonella in meat and chicken exported from Brazil, was the latest black eye for a key sector of the country's sprawling farm economy. ANFFA President Mauricio Porto said in an interview that the country's inspector staffing had slid to 2,600 from 3,200 in 2002, even as the number of meatpacking plants more than doubled. While it is not atypical for government unions to grouse about budget cuts that thin their own ranks, the inspectors' criticism has taken on an added resonance given the export woes, which come on top of a meat oversight bribery scandal that rocked the sector in March. "This could get worse, because more than half of current inspectors have enough working time to retire, and they are likely to do it to be able to get better retirement terms before the new pension code is approved," Porto said, referring to a proposed pension reform that is a central goal of President Michel Temer's administration. The Agriculture Ministry was aware of the criticism by the union, a spokeswoman said, but did not have any immediate additional comment. Brazil’s government in March announced a 45 percent cut in the Agriculture Ministry’s budget, part of a plan to reduce spending as it fights a fiscal deficit that reached record levels in the last two years. Brazilian Deputy Agriculture Minister Eumar Novacki on Friday said the abscesses U.S. inspectors found in the Brazilian meat did not represent a public health risk, adding that some cattle had experienced adverse reactions to vaccines to prevent foot-and-mouth disease. He acknowledged there were flaws in Brazil's inspection system but said there could also be "commercial motivations" for the import ban. The Agricultural Ministry's linkage of the abscesses to vaccines was questioned by some experts. Vaccines for foot-and-mouth disease are the No. 1 vaccines used in animals worldwide, said James Roth, director of the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University. In Brazil, drug companies including Merck & Co and Bayer Animal Health are approved to sell vaccines for the disease, according to the center. Roth said “any injection into an animal might rarely produce an abscess” if the needle is dirty. However, "if abscesses are showing up in the meat, there has to be a failure in the slaughter plant because those should be caught and removed,” he said. The USDA had no immediate comment on whether foot-and-mouth vaccines or budget cuts have contributed to problems with Brazil’s fresh beef. The U.S. ban on Brazilian meat came three months after a broader crisis caused by a police investigation into alleged bribery of health officials by meatpackers including JBS SA, the world's largest protein processor. The union said the understaffing situation was also contributing to corruption since it is harder to bribe employees who work in tandem. While only the United States put in place an outright ban on fresh beef from Brazil, officials in Canada and the EU said on Friday they had rejected some shipments of Brazilian beef in recent months. The EU cited issues with Shiga toxin-producing E.coli in beef as well as salmonella in poultry.

Secretary Perdue to Travel to China to Mark Return of U.S. Beef

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will travel to China this week, joining with U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad, to formally mark the return of U.S. beef to the Chinese market after a 13-year hiatus.  In events in Beijing and Shanghai on Friday, June 30, 2017 and Saturday, July 1, 2017, Perdue will meet with Chinese government officials to celebrate the return of American beef products to the enormous market after shipments were halted at the end of 2003.  On Friday in Beijing, Perdue and Branstad will ceremonially cut prime rib that originated in Nebraska and was shipped by the Greater Omaha Packing Company.  “I will be proud to be on hand for the official reintroduction of U.S. beef to China,” Perdue said.  “This is tremendous news for the American beef industry, the agriculture community, and the American economy in general.  We will once again have access to the enormous Chinese market, with a strong and growing middle class, which had been closed to our ranchers for a long, long time.  There’s no doubt in my mind that when the Chinese people taste our high-quality U.S. beef, they’ll want more of it.”  President Trump, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, officials with the U.S. Trade Representative, and Secretary Perdue announced the deal brokered to allow the return of U.S. beef to China on May 11, 2017 as part of the U.S.-China 100-Day Action Plan.  The first shipment of U.S. beef arrived in China on June 19, 2017.  China has emerged as a major beef buyer in recent years, with imports increasing from $275 million in 2012 to $2.5 billion in 2016.  The United States is the world’s largest beef producer and in 2016 was the world’s fourth-largest exporter, with global sales of more than $5.4 billion.   Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the final details of a protocol to allow American companies to begin shipping beef exports to China.  To date, producers and processors in Nebraska and Kansas are eligible to ship beef products to China, having followed requirements set forth in the USDA Export Verification Program and according to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service export requirements.  USDA maintains a public list of companies that are eligible, and will continue to update it as more companies complete the export documentation requirements. China has emerged as a major beef buyer in recent years, with imports increasing from $275 million in 2012 to $2.5 billion in 2016. The United States is the world’s largest beef producer and in 2016 was the world’s fourth-largest exporter, with global sales of more than $5.4 billion.   Perdue will make the following public appearances in Beijing and Shanghai (times local to China):   Friday, June 30, 2017 10:45 a.m.                   Meeting with Han Changfu, Minister of Agriculture       Secretary Perdue will meet with his Chinese counterpart to discuss                                     additional market access goals. Ministry of Agriculture       Beijing, China   12:00 p.m.                  Ceremony Reintroducing U.S. beef to China                                     Secretary Perdue, Ambassador Terry Branstad, and other officials                                     will ceremonially cut a Nebraska prime rib.       Intercontinental Beijing Sanlitun Hotel Beijing, China   3:00 p.m.                    Meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang                                     Secretary Perdue will discuss expanding U.S. trade with China.       Zhongnanhai Leadership Compound       Beijing, China   Saturday, July 1, 2017   10:15 a.m.                   Media event and tour of Chinese supermarket                                     Secretary Perdue will participate in a cooking demonstration, tour                                     the store, and highlight other American products in a major Chinese                                     supermarket.                                     City Super IAPM       Shanghai, China

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Technology

Precision Agriculture Adoption and Profitability

Agricultural producers have increasingly adopted precision agriculture (PA) technologies over the past two decades. Agriculture Risk Management Survey (ARMS) data collected and analyzed by USDA (Schimmelpfennig) showed substantial adoption of various PA technologies, including yield monitoring and mapping, soil sampling and mapping, guidance systems, and variable rate technologies. However, much of the rapid adoption of PA technologies has happened over the past several years during a period of increased farm profitability. Whether the adoption of PA technology drives increased profitability or whether increased profitability drives adoption is an important question. Recent research by Mike Castle, Brad Lubben, Joe Luck, and Taro Mieno at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studied this question to assess the economic impact of PA technology adoption in cooperation with Tina Barrett and producer members of Nebraska Farm Business, Inc. (NFBI), a farm recordkeeping and analysis association. The research is encapsulated in Castle’s M.S. thesis of December 2016 and provides the background for this discussion. Castle’s assessment of previous work on the impact of PA technology found the majority of studies looked at the returns from PA under hypothetical or simulated conditions, showing the potential or budgeted returns from technology adoption. But, the actual realized impact of PA technology adoption on profitability remained largely unanswered. By tying primary data on PA technology adoption collected through producer surveys with available, secondary financial data over time for a panel of NFBI producers, the research directly analyzed the question of PA technology adoption and farm profitability. Precision Agriculture Adoption The survey research provided estimates of adoption rates for various PA technologies for a sample of NFBI producers going back to the 1990s. PA technologies include those tied to operational efficiency, such as global positioning system (GPS) guidance, automated section control, and telematics. These technologies can improve efficiency through reduced overlap and input usage as well as real-time monitoring and reporting of equipment performance. Other PA technologies address productivity differences and variability within a field and include yield monitors, site-specific soil sampling, variable rate application of inputs, and crop imagery. These technologies can improve productivity and profitability by managing variability and targeting inputs more efficiently within a field. Figure 1 measures the percent adoption of various PA technologies by the panel of NFBI producers since the mid-1990s. Several PA technologies have seen widespread adoption over time to the point that most producers are using them, including yield monitors (YM) with and without GPS; grid soil sampling (GSS); GPS-based guidance, including light bars (LB), auto-steer (AS); GPS-based automatic section control (ASC); and variable-rate application of fertilizers and seed. The PA technology adoption rates for the panel of NFBI producers are substantially higher than those reported in the USDA ARMS survey summarized by Schimmelpfennig. Producers in the NFBI program are more concentrated in crop production and are likely to be more progressive and management-oriented than average crop producers, so the differences in adoption rates are not necessarily surprising. Figure 1. Percent Adoption of Precision Agriculture Technologies (from Castle) With the widespread adoption of PA technologies over the past 20 years, the analysis can compare pre- and post-adoption factors and profitability across producers to assess the question of the economic impact of PA technology. The research utilized a fixed-effects panel data model to examine the effect of PA technology adoption on profitability while accounting for trends in the data over time and endogenous producer-specific effects. Precision Agriculture Impacts on Profitability Initial analysis focused on differences in profitability between adopters and non-adopters of PA technology by analyzing profitability against the number of PA technologies adopted. Several different measures of profitability or efficiency were analyzed, including net farm income (NFI), net farm income ratio (NFIR), and operating expense ratio (OER). Both ratios are financial ratios calculated as net farm income and operating expense respectively over gross farm income. While the interpretation of NFI is straightforward, NFIR is a measure of efficiency, specifically the ability to turn gross income into net income, with a higher ratio indicating increased efficiency. Similarly, OER is an efficiency measure of the ability to turn operating inputs or expenses (less interest and depreciation) into gross income, with a lower ratio indicating increased efficiency. The initial regression analysis measuring the impact of adopting PA technology is shown in Table 1. Table 1. Precision Agriculture Adoption Impact  on Profitability Regression Results Dependent Variable Parameter Estimate Standard Error t-Value P-Value Net Farm Income 43,616*** 10,495 4.1557 <0.0001 Net Farm Income Ratio 1.0399 .06964 1.4932 0.1359 Operating Expense Ratio -1.0404* 0.4736 -1.8140 0.0701 Note: Each row represents the results of each respective regression. Parameter estimates indicate the estimated change in the given dependent variable from the use of an additional precision agriculture technology. Year dummy variables were also included in each regression to control for the time trend. ***indicates statistical significance at the α=1% level and * indicates significance at the 10% level. The parameter reported in Table 1 for NFI suggests that each additional technology adopted is associated with increased net farm income of more than $43,000, a measure that is statistically highly significant. The parameter estimates for NFIR and OER show expected results as well, with each additional technology associated with a 1.04 percentage point increase in NFIR or a 1.04 percentage point decrease in OER. However, the parameter estimates are less statistically significant, with neither achieving the standard measure of significance of α=0.05 (P-values of less than 0.0500). In sum, the initial regression results suggest higher levels of PA technology adoption are associated with increased profitability. However, this initial analysis only shows a strong relationship between the two. Whether PA technology adoption drives profitability or whether profitability drives PA technology adoption (or whether they endogenously drive each other) remains a significant question. To directly address the hypothesis that PA technology adoption drives profitability, the analysis looked at pre- versus post-adoption NFI within the panel data. An initial linear regression of technologies used by years used suggested a statistically significant and positive relationship, providing supporting evidence for the hypothesis. The analysis of technologies used and years used was taken further to study a polynomial regression model, recognizing that the impact of years used may not be linear, but may instead be sigmoid, or S-shaped, reflecting a learning curve associated with PA technology adoption. The learning curve can be representative of many different skills and certainly could describe PA technology, where the impact of adoption is initially small as knowledge or skill is gained or data is collected. Then, once sufficient data and skill are present, the gains from PA technology adoption could grow quickly to a point where the benefits are largely realized and further gains are limited. Analyzing the pre- and post-adoption data with a polynomial regression model allows for the estimation of a learning curve in the economic impact of PA technology adoption. The results of the polynomial regression analysis are shown in Table 2. Table 2. Precision Agriculture Adoption Impact on Net Farm Income Polynomial Regression Results (from Castle) Variable Parameter Estimate Standard Error t-Value P-Value Tech. Use 70,697 45,394 1.5573 0.119 Tech. Use *Years Used -11,855 13,427 -0.8830 0.3776 (Tech Use*Years Used)2 2,635* 1,372 1.9199 0.0553 (Tech Use*Years Used)3 -67.91 42.48 -1.5985 0.1104 Note: Year dummy variables were also included to control for the time trend. * indicates statistical significance at the α=10% level. The polynomial model shows increased statistical significance for the various explanatory terms as compared to the simple linear model, but the parameter estimates and significance of the interaction terms don’t directly provide an interpretation. The real measure of significance is the marginal effect of an additional year of technology use on NFI calculated from the equation as a whole. The value of the marginal effect of PA technology adoption is demonstrated in Figure 2. Figure 2. Estimated Change in Net Farm Income from Precision Agriculture Technology Use (from Castle) The graph demonstrates the combined marginal effect and interaction of PA technology use and years used. It implies an initial period of time when the effect of PA technology adoption on NFI is statistically insignificant and could, in fact, be negative. While some technologies such as guidance and section control could improve efficiencies immediately upon adoption, others such as yield mapping would likely not provide sufficient information for management decision-making until a number of years of data are available. Considering the up-front cost of investing in PA technology (particularly if costs are expensed immediately for tax purposes as opposed to depreciated over time), it is not surprising to see a negligible or even negative impact on NFI from PA technology adoption. However, in time, the increased operational efficiency, data, and ability to make management changes may substantially improve NFI, with the model suggesting significant improvements in NFI from 5 to 19 years after adoption of initial PA technology before the impact levels off. Conclusion The overall economic impact of PA technology adoption remains unclear. The simple analysis of adoption versus non-adoption shows PA technology adoption is positively and significantly associated with higher profitability. However, the relationship alone does not prove causation nor indicate which drives which. Further analysis of pre- versus post-adoption shows positive estimated effects on NFI from PA technology adoption, although the results are not statistically significant. The polynomial regression analysis does demonstrate that the profitability of PA technology adoption increases with time (experience) as shown in Figure 2, but the overall impact on profitability remains statistically uncertain. Further analysis with additional data or refined analysis of specific technologies or families of technologies (such as section controls or variable-rate applications) over time could provide more insight into the realized economic impacts of adoption. In general, prospective or ex ante analysis of technologies and practices can continue to provide insight and estimates of the potential economic impacts of adoption. To go beyond the potential returns, the more complex pre- and post-adoption analysis as used in this work can provide a better picture and a more complete perspective of the real economic impacts of adoption.

Tri-Basin NRD Monitoring Groundwater Levels in Eastern Kearney County

In an effort to better monitor groundwater levels in eastern Kearney County, Tri-Basin Natural Resources District (NRD) has added three observation wells in the Little Blue Basin portion of the district. “We’ve already drilled two additional wells, and will finish a third one this week,” Nolan Little, Tri-Basin’s Groundwater Resources Manager, told the district’s directors at their June board meeting. Data from these wells should give Tri-Basin NRD staff and directors a clearer picture of groundwater level trends along the eastern border of the district, an area in which groundwater levels have been declining in recent years. Tri-Basin NRD is working with staff and directors of Little Blue NRD to coordinate efforts to conserve and protect groundwater supplies in the Little Blue Basin. Both districts have been working with stakeholders in the Little Blue Basin to develop voluntary Integrated Management Plans (IMP) to manage and regulate water uses in the basin. In other business, Tri-Basin Directors approved a request from the Village of Funk to provide temporary Water Systems Operator Services. Pat Nott, TBNRD Water Resources Technician, will serve as an interim Water Systems Operator for Funk as they transition between permanent water system operators. Tri-Basin offers this service to the district’s villages because it is sometimes difficult for villages to hire and retain personnel for water system maintenance and the associated record keeping. Tri-Basin NRD’s board also: Approved three certified irrigated acre transfer applications. Approved one well decommissioning cost-share application and three applications for Tri-Basin NRD and NSCWP flowmeter cost-share funds. Tri-Basin NRD’s next Board of Directors meeting will be Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. at Tri-Basin NRD, 1723 Burlington in Holdrege, Nebraska.

(AUDIO) USDA App Gives Advance Notice of Heat Stress Events for Cattle Producers

An agriculture engineer with USDA, out of the Meat Animal Research Center (MARC), created a smart phone application “app” to assist in early detection of heat stress events for cattle. It is available in both Google Play and the App Store. Any location can be marked, within the app, and set to send possible events in advanced. The app uses the weather forecast-related factors like high temperatures, humidity, wind speed, and solar radiation to predict the potential for heat stress in cattle. The interview with Dr. Tami Brown-Brandl, discussing the app and how to prepare for heat stress, can be found here.

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Ag Policy

USGC: NAFTA Modernization Efforts Should Seek to Ease Uncertainty For Customers, U.S. Farmers

Concerns about the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have disrupted relationships with longstanding customers of U.S. grains and caused significant concern in farm country, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) Chairman Chip Councell testified Tuesday to a panel of government officials examining priorities ahead of NAFTA renegotiation talks. Councell, a farmer from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, spoke at the hearing to provide information and offer personal insights into the impact of NAFTA changes to the U.S. corn, sorghum and barley industries. He told panelists he has been to Mexico twice this year and helped to host a team of Mexican grain buyers visiting the United States to talk with farmers and policy makers. Through those conversations, he learned firsthand that buyers’ concerns are translating into dollars lost in farm country. "Because our agriculture economies have grown to be so closely intertwined, this trade agreement in particular is critical to my business. The last several months have highlighted how important it is to maintain this strong, stable relationship if we are going to continue to grow," Councell said. Councell told panelists that the Council has "strong but unconfirmed evidence" Mexico will purchase corn from South America later this year, and that he himself took a futures position for his entire 2017 corn crop when withdrawal talk began, fearing what might happen to markets as the new crop approached. "What is happening now in our relationship with Mexican buyers will change how the Mexican industry invests in infrastructure, impact our demand for years to come and impact individual producers like myself financially," he said. Councell said that rising demand for feed and food has created new opportunities for grain and oilseed exports to Canada and Mexico over the past three decades, which have been tariff-free thanks to NAFTA. Proximity and natural logistical advantages have led to efficiencies and integration on both sides of the border and helped dramatically expand U.S. farmers' exports to Mexico, in particular. With these successes in mind, Councell urged panelists to ensure negotiators make every effort to do no harm to existing markets and avoid retaliation against U.S. agriculture. He also outlined improvements the Council would suggest for the agreement, including elements drawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) text as well as updated sanitary and phytosanitary, biotechnology synchronization and energy provisions. The U.S. Grains Council is a private, non-profit organization that works to build demand and develop markets for U.S. corn, sorghum, barley and related products including ethanol, distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), and corn gluten feed and meal. The Council hosts programs in Canada and Mexico and has strong relationships with the feed and livestock industries in both countries. Canada was the ninth largest export market for U.S. corn; the seventh largest export market for U.S. DDGS; and the top export market for U.S. ethanol in the 2015/2016 marketing year. Mexico was the top export market for U.S. corn in the 2015/2016 marketing year and is a steady and significant buyer of U.S. barley, sorghum and DDGS. The Council has maintained an office in Mexico for 35 years, helping the Mexican feed and livestock industry develop through training, information exchange, technology transfer and market development.

NAFTA Renegotiations Must Prioritize Ag

A modernized North American Free Trade Agreement must build upon market gains for U.S. agriculture and settle remaining challenges for our nation’s farmers and ranchers in our neighboring markets, Don Shawcroft, Colorado Farm Bureau president, stated in a hearing before the U.S. Trade Representative today. “NAFTA has been overwhelmingly beneficial for the vast majority of farmers and ranchers across the U.S. for decades,” said Shawcroft in testimony on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation. U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have quadrupled, from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $38.1 billion in 2016. Although the benefits from NAFTA are clear and many, there are reasons to reform and update the agreement, Shawcroft said. NAFTA renegotiations present a prime opportunity to address challenges fruit and vegetable farmers have faced with Mexico, as well as a chance for dairy, row crop and wheat farmers to settle issues with Canada. “A modernized NAFTA should at best eliminate, at worst reduce, barriers to trade that keep our farmers and ranchers from having a level playing field with our neighbors,” Shawcroft said. Farm Bureau priorities for a modernized NAFTA include: Updated, science-based sanitary and phytosanitary rules; Improved dispute settlement procedures for fresh fruits, vegetables and horticultural products; Eliminated or reduced Canadian tariff barriers to dairy, poultry eggs and wine, as well as the recently implemented barriers to ultra-filtered milk; Addressing the misuse of geographical indicators; and Developing a consistent, science-based approach to biotechnology. “A modernized NAFTA will not only help expand market opportunities for U.S. farmers and ranchers in the near term,” said Shawcroft. “It would also set a foundation for future trade agreements by establishing market-driven and science-based terms of trade and dispute resolution that will directly benefit the U.S. food and agriculture industry.”  

Maine Takes Lead in Food Sovereignty Movement

Maine Governor Paul LePage recently signed a bill into law that affirms the rights of cities and towns to regulate local food production in their areas. A Press Herald Dot Com report says that makes Maine the second state in the U.S. to allow consumers to buy products directly from farmers and food producers that haven’t been inspected or licensed by state or federal regulators. The ‘food sovereignty movement’ aims to promote freedom in food choices for consumers who are willing to forgo food safety regulations. The law means a neighbor can stop by a dairy farm and by a gallon of unprocessed milk, even if the farmer doesn’t have the milk inspected or licensed by the state. If that neighbor trusts the farmer and is willing to take the risk of buying unprocessed products, they’re free to do so. However, some groups say it’s going to put consumers at risk. The Maine Cheese Guild opposed the bill, with former president Eric Rector testifying against it. The group is worried that someone runs the risk of getting sick from Maine cheese, thereby tainting the entire cheese industry, which is currently thriving in Maine.

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