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UPDATE: EPA Halts Registration of Enlist Duo

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a court motion Tuesday it wants to pull the plug on Dow AgroScience's Enlist Duo herbicide, citing "new information" it received about the potential environmental effects of the herbicide designed to work with genetically engineered corn and soybean. ...

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UPDATE: EPA Halts Registration of Enlist Duo

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a court motion Tuesday it wants to pull the plug on Dow AgroScience's Enlist Duo herbicide, citing "new information" it received about the potential environmental effects of the herbicide designed to work with genetically engineered corn and soybean. ...

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Northeast Nebraska Man Gets Prison for Cattle Theft

CENTER, Neb.  A northeast Nebraska man has been sentenced to five to eight years in prison for stealing cattle from a feedlot. Norfolk radio station KNEN reports Timothy Ketelsen was sentenced Tuesday in Knox County District Couty. He pleaded no contest in September to charges of tax evasion, th...

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Abengoa Biofuels Seeks Creditor Protection

Spanish renewable energy company Abengoa Bioenergy SA has filed for protection from its creditors, the company said on Wednesday. It's unclear what that might mean for the company's corn-based and cellulosic ethanol plants in the United States. Dow Jones news service reported Abengoa is filing ...

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Former Sen. Howard Lamb passed away

Former State Sen. Howard Lamb of Anslemo passed away Tuesday evening at a Kearney hospital. Lamb was involved in a two vehicle accident about a mile south of Broken Bow Monday afternoon and had been hospitalized since. He was 91. He was a farmer/rancher in rural Custer County. Lamb served in the Leg...

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Deere Reports Better Than Expected 4Q Earnings

Even though sales of its green tractors, bulldozers and other equipment fell sharply, Deere & Co. reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings as it cut costs. The Moline, Illinois-based company also posted an earnings outlook for the year that surpassed Wall Street expectations. Its s...

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UPDATE: EPA Halts Registration of Enlist Duo

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a court motion Tuesday it wants to pull the plug on Dow AgroScience's Enlist Duo herbicide, citing "new information" it received about the potential environmental effects of the herbicide designed to work with genetically engineered corn and soybean. [caption id="attachment_56022" align="alignnone" width="164"] Logo courtesy of Dow AgroSciences[/caption]   In a court document filed with the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday, EPA stated that because the agency has "new information regarding potential synergistic effects between the two ingredients on non-target plants, EPA seeks a voluntary remand in order to reconsider the Enlist Duo registration in light of the new information." In court documents, the agency said it "cannot be sure, without a full analysis of the new information, that the current registration does not cause unreasonable effects to the environment, which is a requirement of the registration standard under FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act)." Enlist Duo herbicide, which contains a mix of glyphosate and a new formulation of 2,4-D, received EPA registration in a select number of corn states in fall 2014. The genetically engineered trait package that gives crops resistance to those two herbicides was approved for corn and soybeans September 2014 and for cotton, July 2015. In April 2015, EPA granted final approval of Enlist Duo herbicide for use in nine additional states, bringing the total to 15 states. Dow had not yet sold the seed and herbicide package commercially. It had been conducting research, seed production and "stewarded" trials for corn and soybean in 2015. Dow had said it was holding full commercial release pending Chinese approval of the genetically engineered traits in grain. Dow had said it did not want producers to run into grain sales issues; China has a recent history of being slow to approve a number of U.S.-approved traits and has refused U.S. corn that contained unapproved traits. In a statement provided to DTN Wednesday, EPA said Dow made new information available "that suggests (the) two active ingredients could result in greater toxicity to non-target plants. EPA has not yet completed its review of the new information." In a release late Wednesday afternoon, The Dow Chemical Company stated confidence in the extensive data supporting this new technology and said it is working quickly with EPA to provide assurances "that our product's conditions of registered use will continue to protect the environment, including threatened and endangered plant species." "We believe the questions that have been raised about any potential synergy between 2,4-D choline and glyphosate can be promptly resolved in the next few months, in time for the 2016 crop use season," said Tim Hassinger, Dow AgroSciences president and CEO. "It's possible that we could see some changes to use conditions on the existing Enlist Duo label," Hassinger added. "However, based on the ongoing dialogue with EPA, we do not expect these issues to result in the long-term cancellation of the Enlist Duo product registration. We continue to prepare for commercial sales of Enlist Duo for the 2016 growing season, with enthusiastic grower adoption." The Dow press release indicated that evaluations of potential synergy from herbicidal mixtures are common within the crop-protection industry and are not unique to Dow AgroSciences or Enlist Duo. EPA has not used observations of potential synergy in mixtures as a basis for regulatory action. Technology providers, like Dow AgroSciences, have commonly filed patent applications on mixtures, without there being any connection to EPA's regulatory processes. "EPA now has all of the data developed by Dow AgroSciences on observed potential synergies between 2,4-D choline and glyphosate in Enlist Duo," Hassinger added. "From these data, EPA will readily see -- after evaluating all of the efficacy data on the final formulation -- why these data support the registration of Enlist Duo." Dow has for months, on its Enlist Duo website (…) and in sales and marketing materials, heralded "combining the proven control of a new 2,4-D and glyphosate" as one of the key points for growers using the Enlist herbicides and the crops genetically engineered to tolerate both herbicides. Farmers have been using a tank mix of the two products, applied as burndowns and other early season applications, for decades. According to the motion filed by EPA in court, the agency originally registered the herbicide because it saw "no indication of synergism" with the combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D. So, in approving the new combination product, it reviewed the toxicology and other environmental effects of each herbicide individually. It did not ask for research trial data on the two active ingredients together because, at the time, EPA said "it is reasonable to assume that there are no synergistic interactions for the taxonomic groups that were not tested, including plants." The court filing this week says that EPA "recently discovered" Dow's claims of "synergistic weed control" in patent filings Dow has made on Enlist Duo. EPA's court filing says it sent a letter to Dow Oct. 13 saying that the synergistic weed control Dow was claiming could "affect the agency's assessment of drift reduction measures." DRIFT CONTROL ISSUE Drift control has been a critical issue in the Enlist Duo registration, as 2,4-D has a long history of drift issues. The new Enlist herbicide/seed packages would allow the growth-hormone disruption herbicide to be applied much later in the season, when sensitive crops and plants would be growing and much more susceptible to it. EPA had mandated buffer zones around Enlist crops as part of the original registration in an effort to reduce drift issues. "EPA is seeking a remand because this new information could lead EPA to a different decision on the restrictions for using Enlist Duo. Specifically, this could result in changes to the width around application areas of no-use buffer zones that EPA imposed to protect unintended plants, including those listed as endangered," the EPA court filing said. In October 2014, several environmental groups sued EPA in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on the agency's decision to register the Enlist Duo herbicide. Groups such as the Center for Food Safety and the Environmental Working Group quickly heralded EPA's decision to ask to pull the registration. Several claimed the decision was based on "high toxicity levels," though EPA announcements referred to the need to evaluate spray drift buffer strips and did not discuss toxicity levels. Enlist Duo had been labeled for use in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and North Dakota. EPA had considered approving the product for use in Tennessee, but decided against it because of concerns it would harm some the endangered plant species Spring Creek bladderpod. The first six states approved are areas with strong penetration by Dow's Mycogen Seeds and other seed partners. The 10 additional states, particularly the Southern states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Missouri, are key battleground areas for tough glyphosate-resistant weeds such as Palmer amaranth. Registering in Southern states has been a bit trickier because few crops are as sensitive to 2,4-D drift than non-tolerant cotton. The Enlist cotton trait received regulatory approval July 2015, but Enlist Duo herbicide is still pending for that crop. The original Enlist Duo registration included a number of use requirements and restrictions that are unusual for an EPA registration. The agency has made it known it is interested in curbing weed resistance to herbicides, and said all new herbicide-tolerant crops, not just this system, will likely carry restrictions to guard against the overuse, and subsequent weed-resistance problems. Similar restrictions for current herbicide-tolerant cropping systems, including glyphosate and glufosinate, are also being discussed. The registration required 30-foot, in-field, no-spray buffer zones to minimize drift, and does not allow spraying when winds are greater than 15 miles per hour. In addition, EPA required scouting and reporting for potential weed resistance to Enlist Duo, as part of the six-year registration. Last year, Canada approved the use of Enlist Duo for the same uses that EPA authorized. Other approvals have come from Argentina, Australia, Colombia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Taiwan. In addition, the herbicide mix is approved for use in 26 European Union nations. EPA has had several recent safety reviews of 2,4-D; in 2005, in 2012 and in 2014. Neither EPA nor Dow could offer a timeline on when the agency would finalize the current review of any new information. "We expect to complete our review in a timely manner," EPA told DTN in an email. Dow issued a general response to media, saying the company is "working with EPA to quickly provide further assurances that our product's conditions of registered use will continue to protect the environment, including threatened and endangered plant species." The company said it expects "that these new evaluations will result in a prompt resolution of all outstanding issues." Timing of that review is critical, Dow and farmers have said during the original Enlist registration process. The combination of the herbicides and traited seeds offers one of the few alternatives to glyphosate-resistant weeds, which are now found in most corn and soybean growing areas. Dow had expected Chinese registration for the grain traits soon, as recent trade visits by U.S. representatives had focused on speeding up Beijing's approval process. The Enlist issue marks the third regulatory blow to Dow originating in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a matter of months. On Nov. 12, the EPA announced a ban of sulfoxaflor, the active ingredient in Dow's Transform WG insecticide, and the agency has also proposed a ban of chlorpyrifos, the active ingredient in Dow AgroScience's Lorsban insecticide. The Transform ban was inspired by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling after a lawsuit by the Pollinator Stewardship Council, filed by Earthjustice, questioned whether the EPA had sufficient environmental data to register the chemical. The court ruled that the agency's original registration of sulfoxaflor in 2013 was "based on flawed and limited data" and demanded that agency "obtain further studies and data regarding the effects of sulfoxaflor on bees." Likewise, the proposed ban on chlorpyrifos stemmed from a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling that pressured the EPA to establish food tolerances for the insecticide, an action EPA lacked the data to execute. This time, the lawsuit was filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the Pesticide Action Network and Natural Resources Defense Council. "This court is known for making rulings that align with activist organizations at the expense of agriculture," former National Sorghum Producer chairman J.B. Stewart said in a press release protesting the Transform ban. "We plan to do our part in pushing back on these nonsensical court decisions that unfortunately are becoming more frequent and to the detriment of farmers and ranchers across the nation," he added.    

NCGA Commends FSA Revision to Administrative County Rules

The Farm Service Agency recently approved a modification allowing growers on a farm with one or more tracts outside the administrative county the option to recalculate Agriculture Risk Coverage-CO benefits based on the farm's physical location.  This decision follows an extensive of review of the potential impacts of the previous requirement that payments for the Agriculture Risk Coverage program be based on the administrative county where farm records are maintained. "NCGA worked determinedly to bring this issue to the attention of FSA Administrator Val Dolcini. We greatly appreciate his consideration of our concerns and the decision to act on the information we provided," said National Corn Growers Association Public Policy Action Team Chair Steve Ebke. According to the FSA Administrator's office, the payments for farms enrolled in 2014 and 2015 with payments "would be recalculated in each physical location and summed for the farm using weights according to the number of base acres (including attributed acres) in each county." Farms will not be allowed to retroactively change the administrative county or to be reconstituted.   The choice for producers who may be adversely impacted is between recalculating all base acres on a farm or retaining the current calculation tied to the farm's administrative county.  The flexibility to select and choose among different tracts or crops is not available.  In addition, a decision to recalculate based on the physical location of the tracts must be agreed upon by all producers on the farm with a share in the payment.  The deadline for requesting a recalculation is February 1, 2016. Although NCGA has learned the number of farms not located in their administrative county represent a small percentage nationwide, the potential for variation in payments can be very significant.  Growers who have transferred their farm records to another county office and those who have been impacted by the consolidation of county offices are encouraged to contact your FSA office for additional information.  

Popular Insecticide Ban Would Leave Farmers Looking for Options

A series of court decisions and actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency threatens to remove a popular Dow AgroSciences insecticide. EPA recently proposed a ban of chlorpyrifos -- the active ingredient in Dow AgroScience's Lorsban, an organophosphate insecticide used for combating pests such as soybean aphids, spider mites and corn rootworm. Entomologists contacted by DTN said it could take years before chlorpyrifos products are removed from the market. However, there is some concern that removing chlorpyrifos from the market could at some point complicate the battle against insects, especially when growers are being encouraged to rotate chemistry to guard against possible resistance. For right now, however, when it comes to combating insects in soybeans, there are options. According to EPA, corn accounts for chlorpyrifos' largest agriculture market for total pounds used because overall corn acres are much larger than soybeans. However, in recent years use of chlorpyrifos has expanded in soybeans and has been on the decline in corn. According to Dow AgroScience's website chlorpyrifos use in soybeans expanded from about 200,000 acres in 2004 to some 8 million acres in 2008. Dow estimated chlorpyrifos was applied to about 11% of soybean acres planted in 2008. Since 2000, Dow estimates soybean aphid infestations have caused economic yield losses of up to 45% in untreated fields. Soybean aphids are now present in 20 states including the Great Plains and into the Northeast and South, according to Dow. The USDA estimates corn rootworm leads to more than $1 billion in lost revenue each year. That includes $800 million in yield loss and about $200 million in treatment costs. Erin Hodgson, associate professor and extension entomologist at Iowa State University, said during a recent podcast there are many other options to combating insects in soybeans, making the potential loss of chlorpyrifos easier for farmers to overcome. Christian H. Krupke, professor of entomology at Purdue University, said a look at Purdue's 2015 insecticide recommendations shows there are plenty of options. "Chlorpyrifos, while still in use, does not represent a large portion of the corn and soybean insecticide market," he said. "While it was once thought to be indispensable, it has been largely replaced by a variety of pyrethroids for foliar sprays in corn and soybeans and by Bt for rootworm and some caterpillars in corn. "Chlorpyrifos is one of the few remaining available compounds in the organophosphorus class of insecticides, which were at one time widely used and effective, but now have been replaced by other options both because of problems with resistance and their relatively high toxicity to mammals. I don't anticipate a significant impact of the phase-out in these crops." FUTURE RESISTANCE Matthew E. O'Neal, Iowa State University entomologist, however, said when it comes to soybeans there should be some concern about what a chlorpyrifos ban could mean in years to come. "My concern is if we get into a situation where we have a resistance to the other classes of insecticides used for aphids we're going to need an alternative," he said. "Chlorpyrifos is commonly used by farmers for aphids and other pests in soybeans. If one class of insecticide replaces its uses in soybeans, this could increase the likelihood of resistance occurring. In four or five years that's when you'd start to notice there are is no chlorpyrifos and you're looking for something that works." Dow AgroSciences suffered a separate blow last week when the EPA banned sulfoxaflor (Transform WG), also used to combat soybean aphids. In June 2000 EPA eliminated all household uses except in ant and roach baits. According to EPA's website termiticide uses were phased out as well. EPA also banned the use of chlorpyrifos products on tomatoes. In 2002, EPA restricted the use of chlorpyrifos on citrus and tree nuts, and other crops. In 2012 EPA limited the use of chlorpyrifos by lowering pesticide application rates and creating no-spray buffer zones around public spaces, including recreational areas and homes.  

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Northeast Nebraska Man Gets Prison for Cattle Theft

CENTER, Neb.  A northeast Nebraska man has been sentenced to five to eight years in prison for stealing cattle from a feedlot. Norfolk radio station KNEN reports Timothy Ketelsen was sentenced Tuesday in Knox County District Couty. He pleaded no contest in September to charges of tax evasion, theft and illegal sale of livestock. Court documents say Ketelsen's former boss reported that 13 head of cattle had been stolen from the feedlot. Investigators traced the cattle to a livestock market in Yankton, South Dakota, which paid Ketelsen for them. Investigators also say they found four other instances in which it appears Ketelsen stole cattle.

Kansas Congressman Asks House Leadership to Block WOTUS

Congressman Tim Huelskamp signed on to a letter urging House leadership to block implementation of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule by not funding its implementation in the upcoming spending bill. “WOTUS is and always has been an attempted power grab, broadening the scope of federal jurisdiction to every farm pond and prairie puddle – with enormous consequences on people across the country. “Since President Obama and Senate Democrats are dismissive of the harm this would cause to Kansas and other states, the House of Representatives must flex its Constitutional muscle and refuse to fund this overreaching EPA regulation." You can link to a full copy of the letter here.  

Tyson Shares Soar As Meatpacker Forecasts Record Profit

Tyson Foods Inc, the biggest U.S. meat processor, reported better-than-expected quarterly sales on Monday, sending its shares up by over 10 percent as strong demand for chicken products and a boost from its purchase of sausage seller Hillshire Brands buoyed results. Tyson said sales and operating income in the chicken business, its second biggest, grew amid robust demand and lower feed ingredient costs. Shares jumped 10.2 percent to $48.13 in midday trading after executives issued upbeat guidance, signaled improvement in its beef business and identified new benefits from its Hillshire acquisition. The company bought Jimmy Dean sausage maker Hillshire Brands Co last year for $8.5 billion. Executives forecast additional savings from the deal over the next two years, and said it paved the way for the launch of a new Jimmy Dean branded bacon product in early 2016. Tyson posted an operating loss in the company's beef business, its largest, due to export market disruptions, lofty prices and futures market gyrations during the quarter. Executives said demand began to rebound over the past month as beef prices finally began to ease and exports ticked up. "We think the worst is behind us in beef," Tyson Chief Executive Donnie Smith said on a conference call with analyst. The company is also rebuilding its turkey supplies after a devastating avian flu outbreak and is waiting for poultry export markets to reopen. Tyson's chicken business continued to struggle in China, where wholesale chicken prices are at record lows and the economy is cooling. Executives said they planned to make that business more consumer-focused, but declined to give specific details. The company and its meat suppliers are working hard to avoid recurrences of avian flu and porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv), which in the past have crushed supplies of poultry and hogs, executives said on a call with journalists. Net income attributable to Tyson rose to $258 million, or 63 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended Oct. 3, from $137 million, or 35 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding items, it earned 83 cents per share. Total sales grew 4 percent to $10.51 billion. Analysts on average had expected revenue of $10.27 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. For fiscal 2016, Tyson forecast revenue of about $41 billion and adjusted earnings of $3.50 to $3.65 per share.  

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2015 Silver Eagle Award to Honor Mike Johanns

Nebraska Farm Bureau has selected former U.S. Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska as the 2015 recipient of its highest honor, the Silver Eagle Award. The award will be presented to Johanns on Dec. 8, at the 2015 Nebraska Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in LaVista. Mike Johanns has served at all levels of local, state and national government.  From the Lancaster County Board to the Lincoln City Council and from his service as Mayor of Lincoln to his service as the 38th Governor of Nebraska. Johanns was then appointed as the 28th Secretary of Agriculture by then President George W. Bush. After serving in the President’s Cabinet, he was elected to the U.S. Senate representing Nebraska. During his time in the Senate, Johanns was one of only two senators who served as a governor and a Cabinet secretary, showing his vast amount of experience in government. “Mike Johanns was born and raised on a dairy farm in Osage, Iowa. So he knows what getting up early and hard work is all about. Nebraska Farm Bureau celebrates Mike Johanns and the great accomplishments he’s had during his 30-plus years in public service. Mike has been a strong advocate for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers,” Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson said. Over the course of his career, Johanns has tackled bird flu, mad cow disease, the Farm Bill and deficit reduction. He was designated a Farm Bureau “Friend of Ag” throughout his entire gubernatorial and senate career. He received American Farm Bureau’s Golden Plow Award in 2012 and numerous other awards and honors. “Mike has always been a strong conservative legislator committed to stimulating economic growth through reduced government spending, lower tax rates, and reduced regulatory burdens on Nebraska farmers and ranchers and all Americans,” Nelson said. As Governor he led five trade missions, promoting Nebraska agriculture in Southeast Asia, Australia, Brazil, Chile and China. As a result of those missions, Taiwan, China and other countries agreed to purchase Nebraska products, Nelson said. As Secretary of Agriculture he dedicated nearly two years to the development of the George W. Bush administration’s Farm Bill proposal, traveling and seeking input from farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders. He also provided a strong voice for agriculture in negotiating the Doha Development Agenda, ensuring U.S. producers received fair treatment in the draft agreement. He played a key role in the passage of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). He brought together dozens of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and offices that had a role in renewable energy to achieve a more coordinated approach. “As a U.S. Senator, Johanns worked to secure an increase of $1 million in funding for the APHIS tuberculosis programs when Bovine Tuberculosis was found. He requested assistance from USDA in addressing problems facing the dry bean industry and he co-sponsored the Mandatory Price Reporting Act of 2010 to improve the reporting on sales of livestock and dairy products. He urged Taiwan to ensure that their beef regulations be based on science-based international standards and they eventually adopted those standards. He fought regulatory overreach by the federal government. He supported increasing allowable fuel blends to include E-15 and he tirelessly worked with Farm Bureau and led efforts to repeal the burdensome 1099 mandates,” Nelson said. Johanns is a graduate of Saint Mary's University of Minnesota and Creighton University School of Law. He began his career as an attorney working in private practice after he clerked for the Nebraska Supreme Court. He has two children and five grandchildren and has been married for nearly 30 years to his wife, Stephanie. “Agriculture and certainly Nebraska is stronger because of Mike’s vision,” Nelson said. “Mike is extremely worthy of receiving Nebraska Farm Bureau’s highest honor, the Silver Eagle Award. We thank him for his service to Nebraska and elevating Nebraska agriculture and the farmers and ranchers who make up our industry,” Nelson concluded.

2015-2016 Nebraska Ag Youth Council Members Announced

Today, Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Greg Ibach announced the selection of the members of the 2015-2016 Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council (NAYC). The Council is comprised of college-aged students from around the state who have a passion for agriculture and who promote the industry by teaching others. NDA sponsors the Council and its activities throughout the year. “There is a great deal of need for agriculture education and outreach,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “This is a talented and committed group of young men and women, and they are ready to create excitement among Nebraska’s youth about agriculture and the many careers available in the industry.” The NAYC is entering its 45th year with the installation of this group of Council members. Throughout the year, the Council coordinates several agricultural learning experiences for Nebraska youth including: visiting elementary classrooms to discuss where food comes from; taking urban youth to experience farms and what a day in the life of a farmer is like; and visiting with high school students from across the state. The primary focus of the NAYC is to coordinate the annual Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute (NAYI), a five-day summer conference for current high school juniors and seniors. “It’s important that young people carry on the tradition and heritage of those who have made this state the agricultural leader it is today,” said Ibach. “These are the future leaders of our agricultural industry, and I am excited to see what these students accomplish as they serve on the Council.” This year’s Council is comprised of 23 young men and women. The 2015-2016 NAYC leadership includes: ·         Head Counselors: Morgan Zumpfe, Friend & Landon Swedberg, North Platte; ·         President: Rebecca Cornelius, Madrid; ·         Secretary: Toni Rasmussen, Albion; ·         Vice President of Promotions: Railen Ripp, Kearney; ·         Vice President of Greater Nebraska NAYI: Kate Likens, Swanton; ·         Vice President of Communications & Social Media: Rachel Ibach, Sumner; ·         Vice President of Sponsorship & Alumni Relations: Grant Uehling, Uehling; ·         Vice President of Youth Outreach: Maggie Louthan, Smithfield; and ·         Vice President of NAYI Improvement: Sarah Wollenburg, Beatrice. Additional NAYC members include: Hannah Borg, Wakefield; Dylan Dam, Hooper; Logan Kalkowski, Omaha; Amanda Kowalewski, Gothenburg; Brandon Nichols, Bridgeport; Elizabeth (Liz) Rice, Murray; Hunter Schroeder, Howells; Ryan Schroeder, Wisner; Jacy Spencer, Brewster; Grant Suddarth, York; Collin Thompson, Eustis; Eric Wemhoff, Humphrey; and Cody Zumpfe, Friend. To learn more, visit the NAYI website at or search for Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute on Facebook.

CPNRD Selects Conservation Winners

Three landowners were selected to receive recognition for their efforts in best management practices by the Central Platte Natural Resources District’s board of directors at their November meeting on Thursday.  The CPNRD and Great Western Bank recognize winners in three categories: cropland, grassland and community. *Barton Beattie of Sumner was selected for the Cropland Conservation Award.  Beattie was selected for implementing irrigation technologies that reduce the amount of water being applied while increasing his yields through soil moisture probes, low pressure sprinkler nozzle packages and efficient bowl selection for his irrigation wells.  He also split applies nutrients through pivots to greatly reduce nutrient leaching and possible runoff.  He uses real-time data to schedule irrigation applications. *Lindley and Judy Thatcher of Kearney were selected as the Grassland Conservation Award winners.  The Thatchers have implemented 2,200 acres of prescribed burning, 15,290 feet of cross fencing, 12,450 feet of pipelines, 14 tanks, 4 wells , 83 acres of cedar removal and 7 windbreak planting in Buffalo, Dawson, Sherman and Custer counties.  They also adopted solar wells to establish a water source, run gravity pipelines to supply water and established a rotational grazing system. *Tim Williams of Central City was selected as the Conservation Community Leader award winner.  Williams was selected for his passion for educating the community about agriculture and the family farm.  After implementing numerous efficient irrigation practices on his own farm, Williams began educating the community by becoming an Earth Team Volunteer, hosting field days to educate other landowners about irrigation technologies, assists the Natural Resources Conservation Service with field work and other projects, he is a 4H leader and a Merrick County Ag Society Leader and the Fair Board. Winners will receive a $100 gift card and a sign to display on their land to recognize their accomplishments.  The presentation of awards will be held on Thursday, December 17, 2015, from 4:00-5:00 p.m. at Balz Reception Hall in Grand Island, NE.  The public welcome to attend.  Please RSVP with Marcia Lee at (308) 385-6282 or OTHER ACTION/AGENDA ITEMS: -NRCS Report- Joe Krolikowski, acting USDA-NRCS district liaison, reported that NRCS is currently ranking the applications that were received prior to the October deadline.  Contracts will be extended to landowners after all applications have been ranked. -Nitrogen Management Form The Water Quality Subcommittee reviewed progress on the online Nitrogen Management form that landowners will begin using to report their annual soil and water applications. -Nominating Subcommittee- The board selected Alicia Haussler, Bob Schanou and Charles Maser as the board officer nominating subcommittee.  Treasurer Alicia Haussler has served two full terms and Barry Obermiller is eligible for another term as secretary. -Conservation Seedlings Contract- The board approved an interlocal agreement between the Nebraska Association of Resources District and the U.S. Forest Service to extend the current agreement to obtain seedling trees and shrubs through 2018. -Cost Share- The board approved 14 cost share applications in the amount of $44,467.38 for well decommissioning, center pivot incentives, renozzle, planned grazing, flow meters, tree planting, brush management, and grassland conservation.

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Ag Policy

EPA Expected to Slightly Boost RFS Corn-Based Ethanol Mandate

Declining gasoline prices are giving the EPA room to hike the mandate levels on ethanol relative to the coming announcement on the Renewable Fuel Standard. The Environmental Protection Agency is set to issue its Renewable Fuel Standard for three years no later than Nov. 30 (adding 2017 for biodiesel). Cheaper gasoline equals greater gasoline demand and EPA can thus raise the requirements for the use of ethanol without exceeding the 10% blend wall. The prior RFS mandate requirements were based on 2007 fuel consumption forecasts, and in the eight years since, gasoline demand has stalled instead of growing as predicted then. The EPA’s proposal released in May would set renewable fuel mandates at 15.93 billion gallons for 2014, 16.3 billion gallons for 2015 and 17.4 billion gallons for 2016. The proposal reflects between 9% and 10% of gasoline volumes, the agency said then. Because gasoline demand is growing, EPA could raise those quotas in the final rule without forcing refiners to use more than 10% ethanol. Representatives of the oil industry’s biggest trade group, the American Petroleum Institute, met with White House officials Friday to argue that ethanol quotas should be kept below the 10% level. “Americans aren’t consuming as much gasoline as Congress assumed they would when they wrote the legislation in 2007,” said Bob Greco, API’s director of downstream and industry operations. “That means current ethanol mandates push far more ethanol, far too quickly into gasoline than today’s vehicles can safely accommodate.” Lawmakers remain divided on the issue. A bipartisan group of 184 House members recently sent a letter that calls on the EPA to set the final level for ethanol in 2016 at a level that would account for the blend wall. But last week House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., wrote to the White House urging it to push refiners to use more ethanol. Those producers say oil companies could provide ethanol blends of up to 85% if they were prodded to do so by the government. A rule that locks in the “blend wall” would be “counter to our efforts” in the 2007 law, they said.    

Coalition: Don't Cut Crop Insurance

National Farmers Union (NFU) joined a broad coalition of 49 groups representing farm interests, equipment manufacturers, banks, insurance companies, credit lenders, and other entities in urging Congressional leadership to keep their promise to American farmers to not cut crop insurance or other farm programs through the omnibus appropriations act. “Cuts to crop insurance translate into further consolidation within the crop insurance sector, providing less choice for family farmers who depend on this cost-effective safety net program,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “We appreciate the deal struck during the budget negotiations between majority leadership and House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership. As Congress negotiates an omnibus spending bill, we are urging them to keep their promise to leave the farm bill intact and not make cuts to the federal crop insurance program.” An agreement was struck between U.S. Senate and House of Representatives Republican leadership and the committees of jurisdiction during the recent budget debate to unwind both the policy and the cut to crop insurance made within the budget deal. “The crop insurance provision contained in the budget would gut the private sector delivery of the crop insurance program by cutting the target rate of return by 38%,” notes the coalition’s letter to all members of Congress. “Under the current target rate of return, crop insurance companies have realized negative net returns since 2011. Further reducing the target rate would only drive the industry further into the red.” As previously reported by Agri-Pulse, “the $3 billion in savings that the cut was supposed to produce will be found in some other, non-agricultural area of the federal budget.” “This commitment is very important to our members and to everyone involved in agriculture,” said Johnson. “Just like we opposed this unwarranted cut to crop insurance, our members will also strongly oppose cuts to other important titles of the farm bill, such as additional cuts to conservation, energy and nutrition.” The letter also notes that the agriculture community is strongly committed to the belief that balancing the federal budget is important, which is why the industry supported the passage of a farm bill just last year that saved $16.6 billion. “The farm bill is a careful balance of priorities and should not be reopened before its expiration in 2018,” notes the letter. “Additionally, the crop insurance program has contributed more than $12 billion towards reducing government spending since the 2008 Farm Bill, which well-surpasses the funding added to the program in 2014.” “The crop insurance program is the lynchpin of the farm safety net and is crucial to the economic security of rural America,” says the letter. “As an omnibus spending bill is negotiated, we urge you to uphold the promise to make the crop insurance program whole again without re-opening the farm bill.”  

Former Ag Secretaries Urges Congress to Pass TPP - Including Two From NE and One From KS

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2015 – A bipartisan group of former U.S. Agriculture Secretaries, today issued an open letter urging Congress to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The former secretaries note that opening new markets for exports is critical for farmers and rural communities. Agricultural exports provide 20 percent of farm income and support more than 1 million jobs, many of them in rural communities. TPP is a new trade deal that will create new opportunities for American-grown and American–made products in the dynamic Asia-Pacific region. By opening new markets in Japan, Vietnam, and other countries, we are giving our producers access to new customers and expanding their sales. These sales will generate more farm production, and related activities, that will grow the U.S. economy. The letter from the former secretaries follows: As former Secretaries of Agriculture, we have been personally invested in the negotiation of every major U.S. trade agreement of the past 40 years. We know from experience how important such agreements are to the economic well-being of our farmers and ranchers. In every negotiation where agriculture has been on the agenda these negotiations have expanded our markets, boosted farm incomes, and in the process created new jobs, both on-farm and off-farm, in rural America. The recently concluded Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations are in that same mold. TPP, a high-standard, 12-country agreement, represents this nation's "rebalance toward Asia," which fits American agriculture perfectly. That's where populations are increasing, as is purchasing power, and that's what dramatically enhances the demand for our food. We will in the future benefit significantly from increased access to those markets. We have long had aspirations to sell more of our products to Japan, and we'll now have that enhanced opportunity. But TPP also opens up new markets in the growing economies of Vietnam and Malaysia. And it even provides additional access to Canada's poultry, egg and dairy markets. TPP is a 21st-century agreement that sets enforceable "rules of the road" for trade throughout the region, and with countries currently representing over 40 percent of the global economy. But it is also meant to be an open platform for other countries to potentially join, over time, if they are willing to meet the high standards set forth in the agreement, and if we and the other TPP members—and our own Congress—confirm they can meet that bar. That means potential future agricultural export opportunities could open up within the region. In addition, we should recognize that it is far better to be "on the inside" of agreements like TPP, than "on the outside" looking in. Being an insider gives all TPP participants an inherent competitive advantage over those countries which were not involved. TPP obviously has non-economic benefits too. It will solidify our working relationship with the participating Asian (and South American) countries, and that has both foreign policy and national security implications. And "beyond the border" provisions such as enforceable labor and environmental provisions in developing countries—beyond mere tariff reductions—also help level the playing field for U.S. businesses and American exports, including agricultural products. No trade agreement ever negotiated—TPP included—is perfect. But we should never let perfection be the enemy of the good, and this is a very good trade agreement. In addition to its market access benefits, it will establish the rules of the game for international trade – and help drive up standards for the entire world – for years to come. That is especially invaluable to a country like the United States, which tries to follow the rules of the global marketplace, whereas others often do not. TPP represents solid, committed leadership by the U.S. in international trade, and in one of the most dynamic, fastest-growing regions of the world. For American agriculture there is no downside to TPP, and there is substantial upside. Hence, we strongly support a vote of approval by the U.S. Congress. # Signed, Secretary Ed Schafer (2008–2009) Secretary Mike Johanns (2005–2007) Secretary Ann Veneman (2001–2005) Secretary Dan Glickman (1995–2001) Secretary Mike Espy (1993–1994) Secretary Clayton K. Yeutter (1989–1991) Secretary John R. Block (1981–1986)

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