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Nebraska senators urge EPA to back biofuels industry

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Nebraska senators are pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to hold its support for renewable fuels when drafting rules that could limit amounts of ethanol blended with gasoline for fuel. Forty-two of Nebraska's 49 senators signed a letter sent to EPA administrator Gina...

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Nebraska senators urge EPA to back biofuels industry

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Nebraska senators are pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to hold its support for renewable fuels when drafting rules that could limit amounts of ethanol blended with gasoline for fuel. Forty-two of Nebraska's 49 senators signed a letter sent to EPA administrator Gina...

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NeFB Pleased With Passage of TPA

LINCOLN, NEB., – Statement by Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau President - “Action by the Senate to pass Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is a critical step toward expanding trade opportunities for Nebraska agriculture commodities and agriculture products. As we’ve stated on many occasions, N...

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Third Case Of Avian Influenza Found In Nebraska

LINCOLN - The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed preliminary testing shows the presence of a third case of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI) i...

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Ag Groups Want 'Clean' TPA Bill

The Senate voted 62-38 Thursday to invoke cloture and begin debate on the bill to grant President Barack Obama trade promotion authority and reauthorize trade adjustment assistance, but completion of the measure could take until Friday. The motion that passed will allow consideration of an amendmen...

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Agritourism Liability Bill Passes NE Legislature

Farmers and ranchers who open their property to tourists could be shielded from certain lawsuits under a bill passed by Nebraska lawmakers.  The Legislature gave the measure final approval on Thursday with a 46-0 vote. Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala has said he introduced it to promote rural touri...

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Crops

Hawaii Groups Protest Agains Monsanto Research

Demonstrators planted coconut trees and waved signs in rallies across the Hawaiian Islands as part of an international day of protests against Monsanto. The protesters on Saturday complained about the effects that companies like Monsanto allegedly have on the community when they spray fields with chemicals. They say they want agribusiness companies to stop using Hawaii as a testing ground for chemicals and genetically modified foods. On Maui, a group spent the day sowing fields with crops to encourage local farming. An estimated 200 demonstrators planted 2 acres of sweet potatoes, banana starts and more than 100 coconut trees, said Courtney Bruch of GMO Free Maui. There has been little scientific evidence showing that foods grown from GMO seeds are less safe than their conventional counterparts, but fears persist in Hawaii and elsewhere. An Italian scientist's review of 10 years of research, published in 2013, concluded that the scientific research conducted so far has not detected ``any significant hazard directly connected with the use of GM crops.'' The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a critic of food companies and artificial and unhealthy ingredients in foods, has not opposed genetically modified foods, on the basis that there's no evidence they are harmful. ``We know that people have different points of view, and Monsanto Hawaii is committed to having an open dialogue about food and agriculture,'' Monsanto spokeswoman Monica Ivey said in an email. ``Safety is our top priority, and we conduct rigorous and comprehensive testing on each and every one of our products.''

Groundwater Levels Rise in the Upper Big Blue NRD

During March-April 2015, the NRD measured 513 observation wells throughout the District and then averaged the data of all these wells.  Observation wells are measured in the spring of each year, allowing the water table to rebound from the previous irrigation season.  The observation wells measured are equally distributed geographically throughout the District to provide an accurate profile of the District average.   Overall, the spring 2015 average measurement for the groundwater level change shows a rise of 1.42 feet from last spring.  The findings show that the spring 2015 average groundwater level is 2.35 feet above the “Allocation Trigger”.  As a result, there will be no allocation restrictions for the 2016 irrigation season.  However, flow meters must still be installed on all wells by January 1, 2016.   The District goal is to hold the average groundwater level to above the 1978 level.  In 2005, the District average groundwater level reached the “Reporting Trigger” initiating groundwater users to report annual groundwater use to the District and to certify their irrigated acres.  If the District average level falls below the 1978 level (“Allocation Trigger”), groundwater allocation will begin.  

NCGA Action App Makes Advocacy Easy

Trade Promotion Authority. Waters of the U.S. The Renewable Fuel Standard.  Several hot issues are now percolating in Washington that will directly affect the ability of corn farmers to grow and market their corn. Now is the time for a tool that helps farmers learn about the issues and take action on them wherever they are, whether it's the from the seat of a tractor or a stool in the shed. For this reason, the National Corn Growers Association is proud to promote its free and easy NCGA Action mobile app for smartphones and tablets. With this app, growers and others can be notified of urgent calls to action; review key messages, talking points and news from NCGA; and email members of Congress, the EPA or others to make their voice heard - all from their mobile device. "Digital tools like this are being used more and more by farmers and others, and are critical when we need to make our voices heard on important matters quickly," said NCGA President Chip Bowling. "As a farmer, I know how important saving time is - especially during planting and harvest - and being able to take action anywhere and anytime, within minutes, can help us protect our freedom to operate and defend and expand important markets for our corn." For best use of this app, it is recommended users select to receive push notifications when downloading and setting it up. Click here to access the app on iTunes for iPhones and iPads. Click here to access the app on Google Play for Android smartphones and tablets.

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Livestock

Third Case Of Avian Influenza Found In Nebraska

LINCOLN - The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed preliminary testing shows the presence of a third case of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI) in Dixon County. The third farm (referred to as Dixon 3) is within a mile of the initial farm (referred to as Dixon 1) identified last week and is owned by the same operator. Dixon 3 is a flock of 500,000 pullets (young hens). Dixon 1 and Dixon 2, announced last week, collectively have 3.5 million laying hens . “These farms are in close proximity to each other so this finding, while unfortunate, is not unexpected,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “We continue to receive great support from our federal, state and local partners, as well as from the operator, as we work to control the spread of the virus.” All three sites are under quarantine, a perimeter has been established around each facility, and the birds are being depopulated. Under the USDA protocol, NDA is visiting all locations that have poultry within a 6.2 mile radius of Dixon 3 to conduct testing. Due to the proximity of Dixon 3 to the other facilities, the 6.2 mile radius overlaps significantly. The preliminary positive test at Dixon 3 is expected to be confirmed by officials at a federal laboratory sometime over the holiday weekend, but Ibach said response teams in Dixon County already are working at Dixon 3 to address the HPAI finding Gov. Pete Ricketts last week issued a state emergency declaration to provide NDA and other state agencies with appropriate resources to address the HPAI situation. The Centers for Disease Control considers the risk to people from HPAI H5 infections to be low. Proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 degrees kills the virus. Dixon 1 and 2 are egg laying facilities and therefore the chickens are not consumed, and the eggs from these facilities are processed and go through pasteurization, eliminating product consumption risk. Ibach is asking Nebraska poultry producers, large and small, to follow strict biosecurity measures on their farms and to monitor their flocks for symptoms of the virus and notify NDA immediately if they suspect any problems. All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials, either through NDA by calling 1-877-800-4080 or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593. As part of the existing USDA avian influenza response plans, federal and state partners as well as industry are following these five basic steps: 1) Quarantine – restricting movement of poultry and poultry-moving equipment into and out of the control area; 2) Eradicate – humanely euthanizing the affected flock(s); 3) Monitor region – testing wild and domestic birds in a broad area around the quarantine area; 4) Disinfect – kills the virus in the affected flock locations; and 5) Test – confirming that the poultry farm is AI virus-free. Additional information on HPAI can be found online at www.nda.nebraska.gov. Information is available for producers, media and the general public.

COF Report Shows Lower Placements

USDA's Cattle-On-Feed Report Friday was released a little early due to the long holiday weekend. It showed April placements falling short of expectations.   On-feed  101%, placements at 95% and marketings 92%. Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.50 million cattle on feed on May 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 2 percent from last year. This is the highest May 1 inventory since the data series began in 1994. Placements during April totaled 390,000 head, down 7 percent from 2014. Fed cattle marketings for the month of April totaled 405,000 head, down 2 percent from last year. Other disappearance during April totaled 15,000 head, unchanged from last year. Kansas feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2. 06 million cattle on feed on May 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 2 percent from last year. Placements during April totaled 315,000 head, down 3 percent from 2014. Fed cattle marketings for the month of April totaled 355,000 head, down 8 percent from last year.  

Man Hospitalized After Being Rescued From Beneath Tractor

NORFOLK, Neb. (AP) _ A 79-year-old Norfolk man has been hospitalized after being rescued from beneath a tractor. The Norfolk Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/1EnfFd2) that Longin Karel was pinned by the tractor after it was struck by a car around 8:30 a.m.Thursday on U.S. Highway 275, about nine miles east of Norfolk. Stanton County Sheriff Mike Unger says the westbound tractor was pulling a mower when it was hit by the westbound car. The impact caused the tractor to tip over and trap Karel. Once freed, Karel was flown to a hospital in Sioux City, Iowa. Unger says the car driver, 21-year-old Erica Pilger, was taken to Faith Regional Health Services in Norfolk for treatment of minor injuries. The accident is being investigated.

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Technology

Deere Construction Offsets Ag Dip

Solid sales in construction equipment offset a global agricultural slowdown for Deere and the company raised its outlook for the year. Deere reported second-quarter earnings of $690.5 million, down from the $981 million last year, but better than Wall Street had expected. Shares rose before the opening bell Friday. The Moline, Illinois, company posted net income of $2.03 per share, which easily beat the per-share earnings of $1.57 that analysts were looking for, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research. The equipment manufacturer posted revenue of $7.4 billion in the period, just short of analyst projections. Profit for 2015 is now expected to be around $1.9 billion, the company said, up slightly from the $1.8 billion it had projected. Earlier this year. ``John Deere expects to be solidly profitable in 2015, with the year ranking among our stronger ones in sales and earnings despite the pullback in the farm sector,'' said Chairman and CEO Samuel Allen in a printed statement. Shares of Deere & Co. rose almost 2 percent, or $1.54, to $91 before the opening bell.

Kansas Universities Part of Unmanned Aerial System Team

Kansas' three largest universities have been selected by the Federal Aviation Administration to be a part of a team that will help integrate unmanned aerial systems into the nation's airspace. Kansas State University, the University of Kansas and Wichita State University have been named members of the FAA's Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. According to a news release, the center will focus on research, education and training for the systems that are also known as drones. The news release says research areas will initially include detect-and-avoid technology; low-altitude operations safety; control and communications; spectrum management; and compatibility with air traffic control operations.

Syngenta rejects $45-billion Monsanto takeover offer

Agrochemicals firm Syngenta on Friday rejected a $45 billion takeover offer from Monsanto, saying the offer undervalued the Swiss firm and did not fully take into account regulatory risks. Sources had told Reuters overnight that the two agricultural companies were working with investment banks on a takeover deal that would create an industry behemoth with combined sales of more than $31 billion. But on Friday Syngenta said its board had unanimously rejected a 45-percent cash offer by Monsanto that would value Syngenta at 449 Swiss francs ($486.35) per share. "The offer fundamentally undervalues Syngenta's prospects and underestimates the significant execution risks, including regulatory and public scrutiny at multiple levels in many countries," Syngenta said in a statement. Syngenta shares rose 17 percent to 390 Swiss francs by 0715 GMT on Friday after the bid approach was confirmed. Swiss company Syngenta had been working with Goldman Sachs to assess the merits of a sale to the world's largest seeds company Monsanto, which is being advised by Morgan Stanley , the sources had earlier told Reuters. Rumors of talks between the two companies gained pace at the end of April, sending shares in Syngenta to a record high of 351 Swiss francs on May 4. Monsanto, which initially approached Syngenta last year, has long been interested in its Swiss rival and the potential to base itself in Switzerland and benefit from lower taxes, one of the sources told Reuters. Following attempts by the U.S. Treasury to clamp down on such moves, known as tax inversion, Monsanto may have to buy Syngenta in a cash rather than stock transaction and would be unable to redomicile in Switzerland, an industry source said. Rival Bidders? Monsanto foresees strong benefits from a takeover of Syngenta, which makes heavy research and development (R&D) investments in crop technology to increase the average productivity of crops such as corn, soybeans, sugar cane and cereals. Monsanto, meanwhile, is focused on conventional and biotech seeds and last year raised its R&D spending to $1.7 billion from $1.5 billion in 2013. "There is a clear strategic logic to a deal," one of the industry sources said. "Syngenta is the only available target in crop protection. It's no wonder Monsanto continues to circle the company." A deal would come as prospects for genetically modified (GM) crops are improving in the European Union after a change in its legislation unlocked a stalled approval process. Monsanto owns the only GM product approved for cultivation in the EU, a modified maize. Despite the two companies' cultural affinity, a merger may be challenged by antitrust regulators, primarily in North America, where the two groups are already seen as market leaders in the seeds industry. German chemicals company BASF and U.S. petrochemicals group Dow Chemical could be among possible bidders for all or parts of Syngenta, one of the sources said. He mentioned Chinese state-owned firm, China National Chemical Corp (ChemChina), as another possible buyer with strong appetite to bulk up its European presence, though Syngenta may be reluctant to cede control to an Asian rival. Spokesmen at BASF and Dow Chemical declined to comment, while representatives of ChemChina were not immediately available for comment.

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Ag Policy

NeFB Pleased With Passage of TPA

LINCOLN, NEB., – Statement by Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau President - “Action by the Senate to pass Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is a critical step toward expanding trade opportunities for Nebraska agriculture commodities and agriculture products. As we’ve stated on many occasions, Nebraska farm and ranch families have become increasingly dependent on agriculture trade to boost commodity prices and farm income. The United States’ ability to be a partner and player in international trade is directly tied to the passage of TPA.”   “We thank U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer and U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse for their votes in support of TPA. It is our hope the House will take swift action to follow the Senate in advancing TPA legislation, as trade is not just important to farmers and ranchers, but to Nebraska’s overall economy and Nebraska jobs that are tied to both agriculture and manufacturing.”   Note:    Trade Promotion Authority allows Congress to work with the President to set negotiating objectives, however, it ensure that long-negotiated trade agreements are not subject to numerous Congressional amendments and conditions that must then be taken back and forth to the negotiating table.   

NCGA Action App Makes Advocacy Easy

Trade Promotion Authority. Waters of the U.S. The Renewable Fuel Standard.  Several hot issues are now percolating in Washington that will directly affect the ability of corn farmers to grow and market their corn. Now is the time for a tool that helps farmers learn about the issues and take action on them wherever they are, whether it's the from the seat of a tractor or a stool in the shed. For this reason, the National Corn Growers Association is proud to promote its free and easy NCGA Action mobile app for smartphones and tablets. With this app, growers and others can be notified of urgent calls to action; review key messages, talking points and news from NCGA; and email members of Congress, the EPA or others to make their voice heard - all from their mobile device. "Digital tools like this are being used more and more by farmers and others, and are critical when we need to make our voices heard on important matters quickly," said NCGA President Chip Bowling. "As a farmer, I know how important saving time is - especially during planting and harvest - and being able to take action anywhere and anytime, within minutes, can help us protect our freedom to operate and defend and expand important markets for our corn." For best use of this app, it is recommended users select to receive push notifications when downloading and setting it up. Click here to access the app on iTunes for iPhones and iPads. Click here to access the app on Google Play for Android smartphones and tablets.

Ethanol Hopes to Open Exports to Japan

With the ethanol industry facing market challenges at home with the Renewable Fuel Standard and the E10 blend wall, two ethanol industry groups and a commodity group are on a trade mission to Japan with the hopes of opening up more export opportunities. In 2014 the ethanol industry had one of its best profits years on record, in large part because of strong export markets. Perhaps the big prize would be to open up export markets to China, but that still faces a number of challenges. In a joint news release Thursday, the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the U.S. Grains Council announced representatives are in Tokyo this week at a time when Japan is launching a review of its national energy policies, including biofuels. The hope is the meeting could yield additional ethanol exports to that nation. Jim Miller, chief economist and vice president for Growth Energy said in a news release said the group is hopeful Japan could become a market for U.S. ethanol. "The team came away with a much greater understanding of the current Japanese requirements and market conditions pertaining to ethanol and began the implementation of a strategy to help ensure that U.S. ethanol receives fair market access under the future energy policy that will be adopted when the current policy expires in 2017," he said. In addition to meeting with U.S. Grains Council staff located in Tokyo and USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service officials, the team also met with Japanese officials from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; and Japanese Diet member Arata Takebe. "The United States exported 900 million gallons of ethanol in 2014, supporting both U.S. farmers and the ethanol industry. We know that, going forward, ethanol exports have the potential to grow and become equally beneficial for our customers overseas," said Tom Sleight, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Grains Council. "USGC, Growth and RFA are committed to launching initiatives in 2015 and 2016 to build demand for U.S. ethanol and address barriers to ongoing imports." RFA's Director of Regulatory Affairs Kelly Davis: "Japan represents a unique and exciting opportunity for U.S. ethanol exports. However, the opening of markets and trade partnerships don't happen overnight. This trip provided our team with valuable insight and made great first steps to keep ethanol at the forefront of the discussion in Japan. The team will continue examining the requirements of the Japanese sustainability standards, looking for ways to overcome infrastructure concerns and compiling data responding to some of the misinformation government officials still hold regarding renewable fuels." In 2014, the United States exported a very limited amount of ethanol for industrial uses to Japan, according to the news release. "The U.S. ethanol industry believes there is room to open this market for fuel uses, prompting significant additional imports," the release said.

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Markets

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