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(AUDIO) Spring Weather Brought Crop Damage And So Could Summer Heat

The 2016 growing season brought several crop damaging weather events. Not all areas impacted across the state, but summer heat can be just as worrisome. Spring storms brought flooding, wind and hail – all taking their tole on fields. Dr. Roger Elmore, extension cropping systems specialist with ...

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(AUDIO) Spring Weather Brought Crop Damage And So Could Summer Heat

The 2016 growing season brought several crop damaging weather events. Not all areas impacted across the state, but summer heat can be just as worrisome. Spring storms brought flooding, wind and hail – all taking their tole on fields. Dr. Roger Elmore, extension cropping systems specialist with ...

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(AUDIO) Kingsley Dam and Lake McConaughy Turns 75

The Kingsley Dam and Lake McConaughy are having their 75 anniversary of completion on July 23. Several different activities are taking place to celebrate. A dinner was held on Friday night to kick off the festivities. In attendance were two women who remember being at the original dedication cer...

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University of Nebraska Engineers Develop Drone to Ignite Prescribed Burns

OMAHA (DTN) -- Ranchers who use prescribed burns to control invasive plant species on their pastures could soon receive some help from above. Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have developed a prototype unmanned aerial vehicle -- commonly called a drone -- capable of safely igniting...

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U.S. Cattle on Feed Up 1 Percent, NE Down 4 and KS Up 6

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.4 million head on July 1, 2016. The inventory was 1 percent above July 1, 2015. The inventory included 6.87 million steers and steer calves, down 1 percent from the pre...

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(AUDIO) USDA Reminds Nebraska Producers of Aug. 1 Deadline to Enroll in ARC/PLC Programs

(LINCOLN, Nebraska) July 22, 2016 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nebraska Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Dan Steinkruger reminds farmers and ranchers they have until Aug. 1 to enroll in Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and/or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2016 cr...

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Crops

(AUDIO) Spring Weather Brought Crop Damage And So Could Summer Heat

The 2016 growing season brought several crop damaging weather events. Not all areas impacted across the state, but summer heat can be just as worrisome. Spring storms brought flooding, wind and hail – all taking their tole on fields. Dr. Roger Elmore, extension cropping systems specialist with the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL), says these types of events causes lodging and green snap. He says that some fields could recover as long as the damage wasn't too bad but, does say there are reports of 95 percent of green snap found in fields around Hastings. [caption id="attachment_169250" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Aerial photograph showing wind damage near Central City, Neb. RRN Jesse Harding photo[/caption] Elmore says that producers should watch for weed pressures in soybeans because the damage caused canopies to be opened up. If there is significant lodging, 70 percent or more, he considers destroying that crop and planting a cover crop. [caption id="attachment_169251" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Aerial photograph showing flood damage near Central City, Neb. RRN Jesse Harding photo[/caption] The high heat temperatures currently being experienced will pose other issues. “Any time we get above 86 (degrees), that seems to be the magic number, we start losing some yield potential in corn,” says Elmore. If there is good soil moisture, he says it will not be as sever to corn that is pollinating and beans that are flowering. After pollination on corn, Elmore suggests that producers go and complete shake tests to see what potential yield might be.

(AUDIO) USDA Reminds Nebraska Producers of Aug. 1 Deadline to Enroll in ARC/PLC Programs

(LINCOLN, Nebraska) July 22, 2016 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nebraska Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Dan Steinkruger reminds farmers and ranchers they have until Aug. 1 to enroll in Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and/or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2016 crop year. “Producers have already elected ARC or PLC, but they must enroll for the 2016 crop year by signing a contract before the Aug. 1 deadline to receive program benefits,” said Steinkruger. “Producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office to schedule an appointment to enroll.” The programs trigger financial protections for participating agricultural producers when market forces cause substantial drops in crop prices or revenues. Nationwide, more than 1.76 million farmers and ranchers are expected to sign contracts to enroll in ARC or PLC. Covered commodities under the programs include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat. For more program information, contact your local FSA office or visit www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc. To find your local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

USSEC Announces EU Approval of Three Soy Events

ST. LOUIS (July 22, 2016) – The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) is pleased to announce the long awaited European Union approval of three biotech soy traits for import and processing. The three stacked events are: Monsanto’s Xtend (dicamba x glyphosate MON87708 x MON89788) Monsanto’s Vistive Gold (high oleic x glyphosate MON87705 x MON89788) Bayer CropScience’s Balance GT (glyphosate x HPPD inhibitor FG72) "The EU’s approval of these events is welcome news for U.S. soybean farmers," said USSEC chairman Laura Foell, a soybean grower from Schaller, Iowa. “We’re happy that we can supply our European customers with a reliable supply of safe food.” Europe is one of the largest customers of U.S. soybean farmers with over 165 million bushels of soybeans in exports already this year. In 1996, U.S. growers began to adopt biotechnology on their farms.  Today, twenty years later, growers are expected to plant 94 percent of their soybean acres with biotech soybeans. The technology allows U.S. soybean farmers to produce a healthy, affordable protein source sustainably with increased yields on less land, which helps to feed a growing world population. Biotech seeds allow farmers to limit their impact on the land as they apply fewer pesticides and herbicides, along with employing sustainable practices such as no-till that helps them to achieve a better moisture content in the soil in addition to reducing erosion and cutting carbon dioxide emissions and also helps to reduce energy consumption. Biotech also reduces the amount of crops that are lost due to variables such as insects or drought, which helps keep food prices more affordable.

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Livestock

U.S. Cattle on Feed Up 1 Percent, NE Down 4 and KS Up 6

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.4 million head on July 1, 2016. The inventory was 1 percent above July 1, 2015. The inventory included 6.87 million steers and steer calves, down 1 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 66 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 3.49 million head, up 5 percent from 2015. Placements in feedlots during June totaled 1.53 million head, 3 percent above 2015. Net placements were 1.46 million head. During June, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 290,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 255,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 340,000 head, and 800 pounds and greater were 640,000 head. Marketings of fed cattle during June totaled 1.91 million head, 9 percent above 2015. Other disappearance totaled 61,000 head during June, 12 percent below 2015. Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.18 million cattle on feed on July 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was down 4 percent from last year. Placements during June totaled 365,000 head, down 3 percent from 2015. Cattle marketings for the month of June totaled 510,000 head, up 6 percent from last year. Other disappearance during June totaled 15,000 head, unchanged from last year. Kansas feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.05 million cattle on feed on July 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 6 percent from last year. Placements during June totaled 350,000 head, up 4 percent from 2015. Fed cattle marketings for the month of June totaled 450,000 head, up 13 percent from last year. Other disappearance during June totaled 10,000 head, down 5,000 head from last year.

Miranda Raithel Earns Junior Bronze and Silver Awards

Miranda Raithel, Falls City, Neb., has earned the National Junior Angus Association’s (NJAA) Bronze and Silver awards, according to Jaclyn Clark, education and events director of the American Angus Association® in Saint Joseph, Mo. The 16-year-old daughter of Ed and Mandy Raithel attends Sacred Heart High School and is a member of the NJAA. She has participated in local, state, regional and national shows and showmanship contests. At the National Junior Angus Show (NJAS), Miranda participated in team fitting, team sales and quiz bowl contests. She has submitted weight data to the Angus Herd Improvement Records (AHIR®) and consigned cattle at the Herbster Angus Farms Bull Sale. The Bronze and Silver awards are the first two levels of the NJAA Recognition Program that began in 1972. Junior Angus breeders must apply for the awards, then meet point requirements in many areas of participation before receiving the honors. Applicants are evaluated in areas of junior Angus association activities and leadership, participation in showmanship, contests and shows, using performance testing to improve their herd and their progress in producing and merchandising Angus cattle. The NJAA promotes the involvement of young people in raising Angus cattle, while also providing leadership and self-development opportunities for the nearly 6,000 active members nationwide.

SD Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Ranchers in Blizzard Case

The following is a statement from Nebraska Senator Al Davis' office concerning the recent South Dakota Supreme Court ruling regarding insurance claims and the 2013 blizzard. On Thursday, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled against an insurance company and in favor of livestock owners who lost 93 head of cattle in the freak Fall 2013 blizzard, which killed thousands of head of cattle in Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska. The animals inhaled rain and snow which compromised their ability to breathe, at which point they essentially drowned by ingesting water into their lungs. This decision reversed an earlier verdict in favor of the insurance company which claimed that the animals were not found in standing water. Autopsies showed lungs full of water, which is still considered drowning, although not by immersion. Ranchers in northwest Nebraska who were affected by this blizzard should revisit their insurance policies to evaluate whether they had coverage for drowning, and should consider pursuing a claim on those animals. Further information on this ruling may be found here: http://www.kotatv.com/content/news/SDSupreme-Court-sides-with-rancher-in-blizzard-claim-387827361.html Text of the complete South Dakota Supreme Court ruling may be found here: http://ujs.sd.gov/uploads/sc/opinions/27658.pdf  

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Technology

University of Nebraska Engineers Develop Drone to Ignite Prescribed Burns

OMAHA (DTN) -- Ranchers who use prescribed burns to control invasive plant species on their pastures could soon receive some help from above. Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have developed a prototype unmanned aerial vehicle -- commonly called a drone -- capable of safely igniting prescribed burns. Developed at UNL's Nebraska Intelligent Mobile Unmanned Systems (NIMBUS) lab, the six-rotor AscTec "micro-drone" is only about 1 square foot in size, capable of fitting into a backpack. The drone has various layers of sensors, systems and software which enable an operator to very precisely and safely ignite a prescribed burn, according to Sebastian Elbaum, professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Elbaum and Carrick Detweiler, assistant professor of computer science and engineering, designed the prototype for the drone. HOW IT WORKS The drone carries small balls that contain a chemical powder. Just before dropping the ball, the drone injects a second chemical into the ball and it bursts into flames within 60 seconds. The drone is capable of dropping the fireballs every few seconds, Elbaum said. The UNL team has four prototypes of the drone, each carrying different sensors, a different number of fireballs and even different types of balls. While the current vehicles carry anywhere between 15 and 75 balls, the next prototype may be able to carry twice as many. As the balls ignite, fire begins to emerge. Since the drone is a robot of sorts, users can plan very precisely where they want the fireballs to land. "You can program where they are going to fall, or you can specify patterns where you want them to fall every 'x' number of feet over an area," Elbaum said. "You can actually tell them to go in a line or circle. You can specify all kinds of fire patterns that would be hard to do with a person." Another benefit of the drones is that they can fly very low, so the balls are not blown away by wind gusts. The current prototypes are capable of flying in winds up to 15 miles per hour, but with prescribed fires manned by people, the winds are usually only up to 10 mph in Nebraska. Currently, most people doing prescribed fires in small- and medium-sized areas are using tools such as torches, which haven't changed in the last 20 to 30 years, he said. Cars and all-terrain vehicles are also commonly used, which work well when there are roads or paths to navigate, but become more dangerous in rugged terrain such as ravines or canyons. "That's where we think these micro-drones can come in. They can actually reach hard areas and cover them fast," Elbaum said. "They can get to a target location and initiate fires in a very controlled and targeted manner." SUCCESSFUL TESTS Earlier this spring, the NIMBUS team tested their drones to ignite a prescribed burn of more than 2,000 acres of private land in a loess canyon area near Gothenburg, Nebraska, in the south-central area of the state. The goal of the burn was to target the red cedars that are considered an invasive species and are a problem because they consume a lot of water and take up a lot of pasture space, Elbaum said. Then, in April, the NIMBUS team used the drone to burn 26 acres of restored tallgrass prairie at the Homestead National Monument of America near Beatrice, Nebraska, where a third of the prairie grass is burned every year for soil health and to control invasive species. "It was a great test," Elbaum said. "We were able to work with firefighters, learn about how the technology performed, learn what the firefighters liked and didn't like, which helped us learn what aspects of the technology were limiting. Other collaborators in the Homestead prescribed burn included the National Park Service's Midwest Region Fire and Aviation Program, the Service's national-level Branch of Aviation; and the Department of the Interior's Office of Aviation Services. The Federal Aviation Administration gave permission for the test after the device was reviewed and approved by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which oversees air transportation research as well as space research. FUTURE APPLICATIONS After analyzing data from the Homestead burn, Elbaum said one of the interesting things the team learned was fire vectors and temperature information. This will help them to assign paths that are safer to navigate and gave them a better idea of the efficiency of the vehicle and the success rates of the initiated fires. Since the tests, the team has been contacted by other parks interested in doing prescribed burns with drones, as well as ranchers in Nebraska and Kansas, and people in Michigan, Georgia and Arkansas, to name a few. The drones could also be used to combat wildfires. The NIMBUS team is talking to the Department of the Interior and private organizations to try to work with them in a more systematic way for conducting trials and to help them learn how to develop the technology to better match current needs, Elbaum said. He summed up the team mission in three goals: to push the technology as far as possible to solve large problems, to help students become educated in the design and use of complex systems, and to perform outreach to help people doing this type of activity in the field. REGULATIONS AND TRAINING Firemen or others using the drones will need to be trained, though the main goal of the team at UNL is to minimize the amount of training that is needed by programming the vehicle to operate on autopilot most of the time. The Federal Aviation Administration requires even small drones to be registered, but since the NIMBUS engineers are not recreational users and are not doing things with drones that recreational users do, they needed a special Certificate of Authorization from the FAA to conduct their tests. Elbaum said the laws for drone registration and usage are changing rapidly and may become more streamlined and straightforward in the future. Other members of the NIMBUS team who helped develop the drone were Craig Allen, UNL professor and expert on invasive species management and sustainability; Dirac Twidwell, UNL rangeland expert who studies prescribed burns; Brittany Duncan, assistant professor of computer science and engineering; and students James Higgins, Evan Beachly, Christian Laney and Rebecca Horzewski. Videos about the NIMBUS lab and its drone research are available here: http://bit.ly/…and http://bit.ly/…

(VIDEO)Orthman Mfg observes 50 years and new facility

Orthman Manufacturing has been observing it's 50th anniversary in Lexington this past year and it culminated with an open house on Thursday at their new manufacturing facility. CEO and Chairman John McCoy says it was founded by Henry Orthman, a farmer who at age 52 began manufacturing cultivators. Today it's product lines also include grain wagons, tillage equipment, field guidance implements, conveyor systems and scrapers. McCoy says Orthman's developed several innovations in his implement designs. [audio mp3="http://media.ruralradio.co/wordpress/2016/07/MCCOY_-ORTHMAN-INNOVATIONS.mp3"][/audio] McCoy describes Orthman's as a family owned, ag-based company found in 1965. He said Orthman wanted to develop new products and solve problems for producers. In the 60's, a patent by Ferguson for three-point implements expired opening the door for small manufacturers to create their own implements that could be attached to the back end of a tractor. McCoy praised the business "prowess" of Henry's son Bill in navigating the company through the suffering ag economy of the 80's and the successful years of the 90's. McCoy acquired the company 16 years ago. During remarks at the open house, Bill said McCoy has done a tremendous job of growing the company. He said his father would never have envisioned where the company is at today. https://youtu.be/WNLORbkaYsc [caption id="attachment_168968" align="alignnone" width="1024"] COURTESY/ Orthman Mfng. New manufacturing facility near Lexington Interstate 80 interchange.[/caption] Orthman Manufacturing put it's new 115,000 square foot building,  southeast of Lexington into service a couple of months ago and they marked the occasion Thursday with an Open House. CEO and Chairman John McCoy says that while other manufacturing will continue at their original location northeast of Lexington, the new building will focus primarily on their agricultural equipment in a weld, paint and assembly process. The new facility will manufacture primarily agricultural equipment. Orthman's conveyor and scraper lines will continue to be made at their original location northeast of Lexington. [audio mp3="http://media.ruralradio.co/wordpress/2016/07/MCCOY_NEW-BUILDING.mp3"][/audio] Lt. Gov. Mike Foley was also on hand for the open house. He said what he found most exciting about the new plant "is that the equipment that's produced right here in Lexington, Nebraska is going to be shipped not only to farmers in Nebraska and across our own country but, also to many, many foreign countries in every corner of the globe. And when those farmers in those foreign countries open up their shipping crates they're going to know they've receiving some first class, state-of-the-art agricultural equipment made in America and we're very proud of that." [caption id="attachment_168959" align="alignnone" width="1000"] RRN/ Lt. Gov. Mike Foley(center) congratulates Orthman Mfng. CEO and Chairman John McCoy(right) on opening of new manufacturing facility. Bill Orthman(left) is son of company founder Henry Orthman.[/caption] A total of $11 Million was invested in developing the 115,000 square foot building. Foley describes it as an excellent example of the use of state tax incentive programs and local funding in creating good jobs. [audio mp3="http://media.ruralradio.co/wordpress/2016/07/FOLEY_LOCAL-EC-DEV.mp3"][/audio] [caption id="attachment_168961" align="alignnone" width="1000"] RRN/ Welding area of new Orthman Manufacturing building in Lexington.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_168966" align="alignnone" width="1000"] RRN/ Tillage implements like this are produced in new Orthman Mfng building in background.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_168957" align="alignnone" width="1000"] RRN/ Grain cart and scraper implements produced by Orthman Mfng.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_168935" align="alignnone" width="900"] (RRN Image) Tours were given of new Orthman Mfng facility on Thursday July 21, 2016.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_168987" align="alignnone" width="1000"] RRN/ Employees and visitors listen to remarks commemorating Orthman Mfng.'s 50th anniversary and new manufacturing facility.[/caption] On the Web: Orthman Manufacturing

DuPont Pioneer Introduces New Enabling Technology

DuPont Pioneer announced today the introduction of Accelerated Yield Technology 4.0 (AYT 4.0). The new enabling technology allows DuPont Pioneer researchers to more than double the annual rate of genetic gain of soybean varieties in its research pipeline, which will boost soybean yield potential in growers' fields. The new technology also is helping the company reduce the time it takes to bring new soybean products to market. Hear Paul Stephens, DuPont Pioneer senior director for soybean research discuss the implications of this important technological advance for Pioneer in clips available for download by registered users in the audio library on the DuPont Pioneer media resource website. Photos are also available for download by registered users in the gallery on the DuPont Pioneer media resource website. Learn More “This is revolutionary technology that is helping deliver higher yielding soybeans to market faster than ever before,” said Paul Stephens, DuPont Pioneer senior director for soybean research. “In my three decades of soybean variety improvement work, I have never seen rates of genetic gain as high as AYT 4.0 is producing.” The average year-to-year yield improvement for soybeans in the United States is about half a bushel per acre. With AYT 4.0 Pioneer has more than doubled this rate of genetic gain of varieties in the Pioneer pipeline. AYT 4.0 is an advanced proprietary soybean breeding approach focused on increasing yield. It uses sophisticated analytics and cutting-edge computing to evaluate millions of points of genetic data gathered across hundreds of thousands of local plots each season. By applying these results, DuPont Pioneer researchers identify and advance the highest yielding varieties within the Pioneer soybean research program. Introduced for soybeans in 2007, the first-generation Accelerated Yield Technology system used proprietary molecular marker breeding techniques with a select group of commercial soybean varieties to enhance yield.  Today, Pioneer is deploying AYT 4.0 across its entire early-stage soybean breeding program to rapidly identify the highest yielding experimental varieties for local breeding environments. The new technology coupled with other proprietary breeding techniques has allowed Pioneer to halve product development timelines to five to seven years. “AYT 4.0 gives us the most detailed understanding of the soybean genome we’ve ever had,” said Stephens. “Just a few years ago our researchers could only dream of applying the precise breeding activities that we are routinely doing today. It is important that we continue to push the boundaries of our science to deliver better products to our customers.” Pioneer has introduced its first commercial soybean variety using AYT 4.0, and anticipates a majority of the new varieties introduced for 2017 will be products of the new enabling technology. In the coming years, all new commercial Pioneer® brand soybeans will be produced using AYT 4.0. “Many growers are already experiencing the increased yields AYT 4.0 delivers,” Stephens said. “Pioneer® variety P31T11R is the first commercial variety developed using AYT 4.0. In 2015, it delivered a yield advantage of 3.8 bu/acre* against similar maturing varieties in Iowa. This outstanding yield potential, coupled with a great defensive package, has already made it one of our top-selling varieties.” DuPont Pioneer is the world’s leading developer and supplier of advanced plant genetics, providing high-quality seeds to farmers in more than 90 countries. Pioneer provides agronomic support and services to help increase farmer productivity and profitability and strives to develop sustainable agricultural systems for people everywhere. Science with Service Delivering Success®. DuPont (NYSE: DD) has been bringing world-class science and engineering to the global marketplace in the form of innovative products, materials, and services since 1802. The company believes that by collaborating with customers, governments, NGOs, and thought leaders, we can help find solutions to such global challenges as providing enough healthy food for people everywhere, decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, and protecting life and the environment.  

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Ag Policy

Companies Will Wait for GMO Labeling Rules

Rules for labeling foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMO) will be drafted by USDA and food companies are waiting to see what the rules will look like before modifying their existing labeling policies. "We look forward to reviewing the USDA guidance as it develops," Bridget Christenson, spokeswoman for General Mills, Inc., told Bloomberg BNA in an email. "Regarding our plans on future labeling, we will need to review USDA's guidance once finalized, talk with our consumers on their preferences, and develop our long-term plan." General Mills and several other major food makers opted to get ahead of a Vermont law requiring explicit on-package labeling of products containing GMO ingredients. The law went into effect July 1, but legislation (S 764) passed by Congress and awaiting a likely signature by the president would preempt the requirement, instead creating a less-strict, but still mandatory, nationwide labeling rule. Companies with existing GMO labeling policies have two options: drop GMO labels until USDA creates labeling rules within the two-year time frame required under the new federal law, or continue on with their own disclosure policies, changing them once USDA releases final rules. Thus far, most companies are opting for the latter approach. Congress' bill would require companies to disclose when food is made with genetically modified ingredients using on-package text, a USDA-created symbol or an internet link in the form of a QR code scanned by smartphones. Tomas Hushen, a spokesman for Campbell Soup Co., said that the company would keep its GMO labels for the time being, and that the company had not made plans to begin using a USDA-created symbol or QR code to disclose GMO information. The company is working with regulators to create clear and informative labeling, Hushen told Bloomberg BNA in an email. Mars, Inc. is also waiting before making changes to existing labeling policies.

TPP On Agenda for Obama Confab With Mexico's President

Trade issues, including the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, are expected to be high on the agenda when President Barack Obama meets Mexico's Enrique Pena Nieto on Friday. "I would anticipate that the two leaders will spend some time talking about the trade relationship between our two countries," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, noting that both countries are signatories to TPP. Obama is "quite enthusiastic" about the TPP because it would represent an upgrade on the North American Free Trade Agreement, Earnest said. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said the US should exit NAFTA and should not ratify the TPP. Trump has also said that he would build a wall on the US-Mexico border to address illegal immigration. Mexico's Senate has already begun its review of the TPP and a decision on its ratification is expected by the end of the year.

Several Ag Leaders Praise Pence Pick for VP; Nebraska Farmer Touts Trump

CLEVELAND (DTN) -- A series of high-ranking Republicans on Wednesday urged farm leaders to be unified in supporting the Republican ticket this fall. But they barely mentioned the name of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, leaving the pitch for him to a Nebraska farmer and agribusiness executive who will chair Trump's farm and rural committee. Representatives of most of the nation's major farm groups and agribusiness firms attended the Great American Farm Luncheon, a Republican National Convention tradition. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam; House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas; Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, all urged attendees to vote Republican, but they either did not mention Trump's name or only in passing. House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., and other current and past members of Congress were also present, but they did not speak. Ted McKinney, the Indiana agriculture director appointed by Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, also spoke. McKinney said Pence "has a sense of our culture. He gets the hard part of agriculture." If Trump and Pence are elected, McKinney said, "American agriculture will be at the fore. It will not be forgotten." Pence has held a governors' conference on agriculture and convinced the FFA (formerly the Future Farmers of America) to bring its annual convention to Indianapolis for at least nine years. The Trump pitch was left to Charles Herbster, president and CEO of the Conklin Company and Herbster Angus Farms in Falls City, Nebraska. "We need to be passionate about this next election," said Herbster, who was a candidate for governor of Nebraska in 2013, but dropped out due to his wife's illness. His biography says he has a mission "to bring God back into the corporate boardroom." Herbster said he is putting together a farm, ranch and rural group for Trump with the assistance of Sam Clovis, a professor at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, who became associated with the Trump campaign in 2015 after leaving the presidential campaign of Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who dropped out. Herbster told DTN after the event that a farm and rural advisory board will be announced in about two weeks. Herbster, who said his speech was written by Clovis, said he "knows" that Trump understands that food security is national security. Trump also will immediately address elimination of the "death tax," the term preferred by Republicans for the estate tax. Trump also understands "we have to revitalize rural America," and will bring "common sense" to land management in the western states. Herbster also maintained that Trump is a supporter of free trade. Herbster said, "believes in trade just as much as anyone in the room," but believes the United States needs better-negotiated trade agreements because "we keep coming up on the short end of the stick" and this "is not good for manufacturing." Herbster, who has previously told the media he has known Trump for 10 years, said he has visited New York three times in the last five weeks on campaign business. Herbster added, "Hillary Clinton is not an option for president." Herbster told the attendees, "Donald Trump may have been your tenth pick" in the primaries, but the possibility that Clinton would make appointments to the Supreme Court should motivate them to support Trump now. CropLife America President and CEO Jay Vroom was the master of ceremonies but noted that National Council of Farmer Co-operatives President and CEO Charles Conner, a former Agriculture deputy secretary, was his co-chair. Vroom established the second theme of the event by telling the attendees that they must "stop talking to ourselves" and "dedicate ourselves to communicating" with the broader society. Throughout the event, there were references to the difficulty convincing urban consumers and college students of the value of commercial-scale agriculture. David Daniels, director of the Ohio Agriculture Department, an appointee of Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich, noted that he has to communicate with "people who live in a loft" and "have never been on a farm" and have a nostalgia for old-style farming. Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Adam Sharp said Ohio has 14 million acres of farm land and 11 million people, which means farmers need to raise crops and animals in close proximity to urbanites. That proximity makes it particularly difficult to raise pigs on a commercial scale, Sharp noted. Putnam, who is often mentioned as a candidate for governor, made the most impassioned speech in favor of voting Republican. Putnam said farmers' biggest threat today is not the weather but the Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Internal Revenue Service and the Labor Department. "Hillary Clinton won't fix them," Putnam said. "The biggest obstacle to [agriculture] is our federal government." The people attending the luncheon need "to support people up and down the ballot," Putnam said. The farm states will be battleground states, Putnam said, adding "even my state to a degree." (Polls show Clinton as much as nine points ahead of Trump in Florida.) Putnam did not mention Trump, but said, "It doesn't matter who your pick was in the primary." Of Pence, Putnam said, "Pence is our people." Putnam also expressed frustration with the larger political atmosphere for agriculture. Putnam said he fears that Norman Borlaug, the plant breeder who developed the Green Revolution that increased agricultural productivity in India, would not be able to carry out his research at land grant colleges if he were alive today. Leftists, Putnam said, have forged "an unholy alliance" with people who usually support agriculture, including conservationists. Putnam urged the attendees not to allow opponents of large-scale agriculture to "pick the industry apart one commodity at a time" -- a statement that could be a reference to cane sugar farmers in his own state who advertise that their products are not genetically modified. In order to feed a growing world population, Putnam said, agriculture "can't be Old MacDonald's farm."

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