Rural Radio Network
WASHINGTON — USDA Acting Deputy Secretary Michael Scuse is leading a U.S. ethanol mission to Mexico on May 24–25 to explore trade opportunities between the two countries. The mission participants include representatives from the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the U.S. Grains C...Read More
WASHINGTON — USDA Acting Deputy Secretary Michael Scuse is leading a U.S. ethanol mission to Mexico on May 24–25 to explore trade opportunities between the two countries. The mission participants include representatives from the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the U.S. Grains C...Read More
Some Midwestern corn and soybean producers may want to get into the cattle business, but with land still averaging more than $8,000 an acre, it's impossible to pencil in a profit using traditional methods. Jeff Morse, Council Bluffs, Iowa, did that math a few years back, and he couldn't make it work...Read More
Corn planting and emergence continued to run ahead of the five-year average in the week ended May 22, according to USDA's latest Crop Progress report. Corn is 86% planted, compared to 75% last week, 90% last year and a five-year average of 85%. Emergence is pegged at 60%, compared to 43% last wee...Read More
High octane, less expensive, locally produced, renewable – no matter the reason, Nebraska motor fuel sales show that drivers continue to choose ethanol-blended gasoline. According to the Nebraska Department of Revenue Motor Fuels Division, in the last 37 years more than 13 billion gallons of et...Read More
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Economics has been described as stating the obvious in terms of the incomprehensible. At times, it does seem unnecessarily complicated. When I want to know something about economics, I “high-tail it” to an economist. In this case, Tom Trieman, a natural resource economist and f...Read More
USDA Crop Progress Numbers Bearish for Wheat, Soybeans; Neutral for Corn
Corn planting and emergence continued to run ahead of the five-year average in the week ended May 22, according to USDA's latest Crop Progress report. Corn is 86% planted, compared to 75% last week, 90% last year and a five-year average of 85%. Emergence is pegged at 60%, compared to 43% last week, 69% last year and 55% on average. "Monday's report should be viewed as neutral for corn with significant planting delays still noted in Indiana and Ohio," DTN Analyst Todd Hultman said. Soybeans also remain ahead of average at 56% planted, compared to 36% last week, 56% last year and a 52% average. Soybean emergence is estimated at 22%, compared to 10% last week, 27% last year and a 21% five-year average. "Monday's report should be viewed as bearish for soybeans," Hultman said. Winter wheat is 75% headed, compared to 68% last week, 74% last year and 66% on average. Winter wheat condition held steady at 62% good to excellent. "USDA's condition ratings resulted in no change in the DTN Winter Wheat Condition Index of 156," Hultman said. "DTN's index is up from 109 a year ago and well above the five-year average of 66. Monday's report is bearish for winter wheat." Spring wheat is 95% planted and 78% emerged, compared with 89% and 60% last week, 95% and 76% last year and 77% and 51% on average. "USDA said 76% of the spring wheat was rated good to excellent, resulting in a DTN Spring Wheat Condition Index of 180," Hultman said. "DTN's index is up from 168 a year ago. Monday's report is bearish for spring wheat." Cotton is 46% planted, compared to 40% last week, 44% last year and a 54% average. Rice is 93% planted and 83% emerged, compared to 87% and 76% last week, 92% and 79% last year, and 89% and 73% on average. Rice condition improved to 67% good to excellent, compared to 63% last week. Sorghum is 37% planted compared to 33% last week, 40% last year and a 43% average. Oats are 98% planted and 90% emerged, compared to 94% and 81% last week, 99% and 89% last year and 90% and 76% averages. Oats are 25% headed, compared to 24% last year and a 29% average. Oats condition held steady at 73% good to excellent. Barley is 94% planted and 80% emerged, compared to 90% and 68% last week, 99% and 82% last year, and 81% and 56% averages. Barley condition improved slightly to 76% good to excellent, compared to 75% last week. Nebraska: Corn planted was at 90 percent, equal to last year, and near the five-year average of 93. Emerged was at 51 percent, behind 68 last year and 62 average. Sorghum planted was at 30 percent, behind 47 last year and 40 average. Soybeans planted was at 54 percent, equal to last year, but behind 67 average. Emerged was at 13 percent, near 17 last year, but behind 25 average. Winter wheat condition rated 0 percent very poor, 5 poor, 29 fair, 55 good, and 11 excellent. Winter wheat jointed was at 94 percent, equal to last year, but ahead of 83 average. Headed was at 43 percent, ahead of 35 last year and 31 average. Oats condition rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 21 fair, 73 good, and 5 excellent. Oats planted was at 96 percent, near 100 last year and 99 average. Emerged was at 90 percent, behind 97 last year, but near 92 average. Jointed was at 46 percent, near 49 last year. Headed was at 7 percent, ahead of 1 last year, but near 4 average. Alfalfa condition rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 9 fair, 75 good, and 15 excellent. Alfalfa first cutting was at 13 percent, ahead of 8 last year, but near 17 average. Dry edible beans planted was at 2 percent, equal to last year, but behind 7 average. Kansas: Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 6 poor, 37 fair, 49 good, and 7 excellent. Winter wheat jointed was 30 percent, ahead of 12 last year and the five-year average of 16. Corn planting was underway in southern counties and was 2 percent complete, compared to 0 last year and average. ** National Crop Progress Summary This Last Last 5-Yr Week Week Year Avg Corn Planted 86 75 90 85 Corn Emerged 60 43 69 55 Soybeans Planted 56 36 56 52 Soybeans Emerged 22 10 27 21 Winter Wheat Headed 75 68 74 66 Spring Wheat Planted 95 89 95 77 Spring Wheat Emerged 78 60 76 51 Cotton Planted 46 40 44 54 Sorghum Planted 37 33 40 43 Oats Planted 98 94 99 90 Oats Emerged 90 81 89 76 Oats Headed 25 NA 24 29 Barley Planted 94 90 99 81 Barley Emerged 80 68 82 56 Rice Planted 93 87 92 89 Rice Emerged 83 76 79 73 National Crop Condition Summary (VP=Very Poor; P=Poor; F=Fair; G=Good; E=Excellent) This Week Last Week Last Year VP P F G E VP P F G E VP P F G E Winter Wht 1 7 30 51 11 1 7 30 51 11 6 13 36 37 8 Spring Wht - 2 22 68 8 NA NA NA NA NA 1 3 27 61 8 Oats 1 3 23 64 9 1 3 23 65 8 2 6 22 59 11 Barley - 1 23 58 18 1 1 24 58 17 - 2 24 61 13 Rice 3 6 24 54 13 3 5 29 48 15 1 5 28 49 17
Sugarbeets a Focus in Fight Over GMO Food Ingredient Labels
OMAHA (DTN) -- U.S. sugarbeet industry leaders question USDA's decision last week to increase sugar cane imports due to "uncertainty" surrounding GMO labeling issues. Industry representatives note the imports were needed more to deal with growing complications with sugar imports from Mexico. Sugarbeets are in the bullseye of the national GMO debate. Some are calling for a national law that would preempt Vermont's mandated labeling law from going into effect. Some companies have announced they will use their own labels while others are changing ingredients -- reformulating -- to avoid having a GMO label on their food. When USDA announced on Wednesday it was allowing 200,000 tons more raw cane sugar into the U.S., the department stated, "America's beet sugar producers have made significant investments in a strong 2016 crop, but they continue to face uncertainty." USDA lifted some tariff restrictions and quotas "to maintain an adequate sugar supply in an uncertain market. This uncertainty is in part due to inaction on GE [genetic engineering] labeling legislation and lack of consumer information about genetic technology." At a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on Thursday, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., asked representatives from the Farm Credit Administration if they have factored in the risk of food-company formulation changes affecting the finances of farmers and processors. "This represents a major risk in demand for the future," Tillis told the Farm Credit witnesses. Tillis added that ingredient reformulation by major food companies would shut down demand for commodities, specifically sugarbeets. David Berg, president and CEO of American Crystal Sugar, said he wants to shoot holes in some of the comments being made about the sugarbeet industry, but he acknowledges sugar is unique because it's the one food item with two distinct GMO and non-GMO production methods. "Sugar is on the tip of the spear, because there is no other crop or food ingredient that I can think of where a buyer can simply say, 'I want non-GMO so I will simply go to cane sugar,'" Berg said. "You can't do that with corn in most instances. You can't do that with vegetable oil or some other products. It doesn't mean they aren't there, but the products aren't as readily available as sugar cane." Berg said some false statements about a decrease in sugar orders have been made as Washington lobbyists try to push the Senate into action. The sugarbeet growers trade association shows sugarbeet demand is down about 2.2% from two years ago, he said. USDA, in numbers reported last week, shows sugarbeet deliveries and exports combined were down 5% in 2015 from 2014, and down about 3.3% from two years ago. "Beet sugar demand is not down, because it will go up or down based on the size of the crop," Berg said. "We feel we have lost 2.2% of our total customer volume to cane sugar for GMO reasons -- 2.2% of our volume has switched to cane because of GMO reasons." In addition, Berg said there has been some reduction in beet sugar deliveries in 2016. Duane Grant, who grows about 7,000 acres of sugarbeets near Rupert, Idaho, is chairman of the board for Amalgamated Sugar, the nation's second-largest sugarbeet processor, behind only American Crystal. Grant said the issue of GMO reformulation is overblown. The potential uncertainty is causing some customers to postpone purchasing decisions, but beet refiners continue to run at capacity. "Everyone is running at capacity in our system on the beet side," Grant said. "Any representation that we on the beet side of the sugar market have not been able to move all our sugar to market is just inaccurate. We have been able to move our sugar at prices right on par with cane." Grant noted there is a price difference right now between cane and beets. USDA's Economic Research Service, tracking prices from Milling and Baking News, has reported a spread in the spot price for sugars from 3 cents to 5 cents. As of May 6, sugarbeets were at 30 cents to 31 cents a pound while cane was at 33 cents to 36 cents. That's one of the larger spreads, but not the largest since early 2012. "Some customers have said if cane is tough to get, they would be happy to switch to beets and get a price break for it," Grant said. "So the market is still evolving." As a grower, Grant said he believes the GMO labeling debate distorts the understanding that biotech sugarbeets grow in a more environmentally friendly way. Grant said farmers make eight to 10 fewer passes over the field planting glyphosate-resistant sugarbeets. Further, they aren't spraying multiple different herbicides that generally had restricted uses, required sprayers to have licenses, and wear special gear. "The change was just dramatic. We were able to park our plow and go to no-till farming techniques. We were able to close the door on the insecticide and herbicide shed and stop using a mixture of six or seven different herbicides." IMPORTS AND CANE REFINERS Luther Markwart, executive vice president of the American Sugarbeet Association, said there are two different issues regarding the raw sugar market for cane refiners and the GMO reformulation issue. USDA's order to increase imports of cane sugar by 200,000 short tons included 60,000 tons from Mexico. Another 140,000 will come from any countries already holding a quota to export sugar into the U.S. USDA said there was a 500,000-ton shortfall in the U.S. sugar cane production. Last fall, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that subsidized Mexican sugar imported into the U.S. dragged down the prices for U.S. sugar growers. The trade commission ruled to keep specific Mexican export quotas that maintain a stocks-to-use ratio of 13.5%. Sugar importers were upset over the trade commission's ruling last September, but the U.S. sugar industry praised it, expecting it would hold the limit on Mexican imports. The U.S. imports 1.3 million to 1.7 million tons of sugar from Mexico annually, but U.S. sugar growers complain because the Mexican sugar industry isn't willing to ship enough lower-quality sugar that can be further refined by U.S. refineries. Those U.S. refiners then become starved for business and push for further imports of raw sugar to keep operating. "Our cane refiners are being harmed because of the Mexicans aren't supplying those refineries with enough sugar," Markwart said. ... "You have just got to make sure that mix is right of how much refined sugar is coming up and how much [raw] sugar is coming up to feed those cane refineries. And they have just got to find a way to fix it." According to the latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, the U.S. is already set to import 3.48 million short tons through various country trade quotas -- up 7% from the 2015-16 crop year. The total includes 1.758 million tons from Mexico, which will increase its exports to the U.S. for 2016-17 by 26% over last year. While the imports are up, total U.S. sugar supply is projected down compared to a year ago by 46,000 tons to 13.932 million short tons. That's due mainly to a 6% decline in projected U.S. cane production for the 2016-17 year. All of those WASDE numbers come down to U.S. total use for 2016-17 at 12.275 million tons and ending stocks at 1.657 million tons, a potential final stocks-to-use ratio of 13.5% -- the goal set by the ITC. With a boost in 2015-16 ending stocks, and new-crop beginning stocks, the 200,000 tons of extra imports have the potential to move the 2016-17 stocks-to-use ratio to just above 15.1%. The Sweetener Users Association welcomed USDA's decision to increase raw sugar imports by 200,000 tons, declaring it would ease "uncertainty in the U.S. sugar market caused by America's broken sugar policy." The U.S. Sugar Alliance, which represents both cane and beet growers and processors, was lukewarm to USDA's decision, stating that the department has a challenging job given the pressures from food processors to lower prices, more subsidized Mexican sugar being sold globally, and the "unstable conditions on the heavily-subsidized world market." IMPACT OF GMO LABELS Industry leaders note sugarbeets are facing some turbulence because of the lack of a federal bill on biotech food labels. So companies are switching to cane to avoid putting on a label in Vermont. "The impact of that today is relatively small, but it is something that could grow and it has grown a bit already," Duane Maatz, executive director of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association, said. Industry leaders are concerned about how refined sugar from sugarbeets would be treated under a GMO label law. A National Academy of Sciences report released last week declared there are no added health risks from foods derived from genetically engineered crops. Still, the report also looked at other issues and noted food companies in Europe reformulated food products to avoid using a GMO label. "That would be exactly the concern we would have," Maatz said. "Is that going to happen? I don't know. We think there has been more acceptance of GMO in the market." Sugarbeet growers have been highly critical of chocolate manufacturer Hershey's for announcing last December that it was moving completely away from sugar refined from beets. They are doing so, even though there is no distinction between cane and beet sugar. Scientific studies have sought to distinguish refined sugar from glyphosate-resistant beets, non-GMO beets and sugar cane. They can't tell the different because the final extracted sucrose is the same. http://dld.bz/… Markwart said the sugarbeet industry went through great pains in 2006 before converting to glyphosate-resistant sugarbeets to test samples from all over the world in an effort to show food companies and confectioners that the refined sugars from cane and beets are identical. Vermont's law was scheduled to go into effect on July 1 and could fine manufacturers up to $1,000 for failing to label products. The state legislature there is advancing language that would delay a key part of the enforcement provision of that law for at least one year and at least prevent companies from putting labels on food that might be shipped before July 1. "If Vermont were more the rule of the land, it would be a bigger problem," Markwart said. "But it's more of a minor issue now, but long-term if you don't get something that supersedes or preempts Vermont, then you've got a long-term problem." Australia, New Zealand and Japan all have labeling laws for foods from genetically-engineered crops, but actually exclude products made with refined sugar from the U.S. because of the lack of difference in sugar. "Part of this is American agriculture has not educated American consumers the way they should have," Markwart said. "It was always someone else's job to do and then you have got activists, frankly, out there scaring people and drive this out of the food system."
Senator Offers Provision to Change How ARC Yield Calculated
State Farm Service Agency offices will get some say in evening out uneven or imbalanced county yield data under the Agricultural Risk Coverage ARC-County program through a potential pilot program. Sen. John Hoeven, a Republican from North Dakota, added an amendment to USDA's funding bill on Thursday that would create a $5 million pilot program to change ARC-County payment calculations for the 2016-17 crop. If Hoeven's amendment makes it into the final 2017 fiscal year budget for USDA, the department will be required to provide state Farm Service Agency offices with a role in adjusting county yield determinations for the ARC program. In a news release, Hoeven stated that if the FSA office finds disparities in county yields, then the office would be allowed to change them using a different calculation method. Essentially, FSA would ensure a more even distribution of farm-program payments across the state. Complaints over payment distribution have come from several states. Iowa's senators wrote FSA earlier this month asking for some clarification on how ARC-County payments are calculated. North Dakota Corn Growers was among the first groups last fall to raise issues with the Farm Service Agency over disparities between counties on the 2014 payments issued last fall. The group argued farmers in the state lost out on $14 million to $15 million in payments because of disparities in yields from county to county. "The North Dakota Corn Growers are very appreciative of Senator Hoeven's leadership on the ARC county payment issue in urging USDA to find a fair method to calculate ARC," said Carson Klosterman, president of the North Dakota Corn Growers. "Today's passage of Hoeven's amendment is an important step forward in making sure farmers don't face the same yield disparities in crop year 2016 that they have experienced in the 2014 crop year, and we hope the Hoeven amendment sends USDA a strong message that it needs to find a solution for the 2014 and 2015 crop years." FSA relies on county yield data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service from its annual yield survey sent to farmers across the country. To use that NASS data, however, reports from the NASS county surveys need to account for at least 25% of the acreage in a county and at least five farms in the county as well. Hoeven stated that if NASA data creates a "substantial disparate" result, then FSA should look at yield data from neighboring counties, as well as look at data from the Risk Management Agency or NASS district data. FSA has stated the agency already turned to the Risk Management Agency to get the 2014 yield in counties where NASS did not get enough information to make an accurate calculation. RMA calculates yield by taking total production of crop insurance records and dividing that production total by the number of insured acres in the county. If there is not enough RMA data to make a determination, then FSA uses district yield data and in some crops turns to state yield information. The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved the fiscal year 2017 Agriculture appropriations bill with several provisions and amendments that were not in the bill approved by the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday. The full committee roll call vote was 30 to zero in favor of the bill. Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Moran, R-Kan., added several amendments in a manager's package. An amendment from Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, would continue the ban on the commercialization of genetically modified salmon if the salmon is not labeled. She also wants the Food and Drug Administration to change the labeling of golden king crab to avoid confusion with crab caught in Russian waters. Another voice amendment offered by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., would ban the inspection of horse meat intended for human consumption. Committee Republicans and Democrats each posted summaries of the bill.
Land Affordability, Availability Moving Cattle Indoors
Some Midwestern corn and soybean producers may want to get into the cattle business, but with land still averaging more than $8,000 an acre, it's impossible to pencil in a profit using traditional methods. Jeff Morse, Council Bluffs, Iowa, did that math a few years back, and he couldn't make it work. "We were looking for a way to bring my sons, Jared and Joshua, into the operation," he said. "We initially were thinking we wanted to expand our feeder operation, but we got caught with some heifers when the market went down, so we decided to expand with a cow/calf operation. Land price was the element that made adding pasture acres a cost-prohibitive move." Morse was looking at buying pasture for 64 cows -- a herd size that would have required around 160 acres. The purchase price for that much ground in 2011 around Pottawattamie County was a shocking $1.5 million. And Morse points out that in Iowa, those 160 acres would only have supported the cattle for part of the year. "Providing you get ample rain and you fertilize well, you are only going to feed them from May through August [on pasture]. Maybe, if you're really creative, you get five months off those pastures. The rest of the year, you are going to have to feed hay, cornstalks or something," he said. ANOTHER OPTION Morse started to consider a cow/calf operation that wasn't so traditional. What about raising calves under-roof 365 days a year? He has now pulled the trigger not once, but twice, on hoop barns designed to do just that. The first year, 2011, he added a barn with a capacity for 64 pairs; then in 2014, he put in a second barn with a capacity for 128 pairs. These systems come with the added benefit of Morse being able to reuse cornstalk residue from where cows bed down on corn and soybean ground. The residue fertilizes and aids in the soil's biological activity. FAST ADOPTION Brent Bryant is managing director of Hoop Beef System (www.hoopbeef.com) and a fourth-generation Iowa beef producer. The Bryant family started selling hoop barns for cattle in 2003. Today, these structures are being used by both feeders and cow/calf operators across the country. The Bryants not only provide the barns but also expertise and even their own composite-type heifer they believe adapts especially well to the controlled environment. Cost for a structure varies based on size and customization. Bryant said a general turnkey price for a cow/calf facility can be figured at about $1,400 per pair. Estimates show there are now close to 1,000 hoop-barn systems in the state of Iowa alone. Morse uses the Hoop Barn System, with most of his cow herd coming from the composite heifers he bought from the Bryants. He said they are half Jersey and half Gelbvieh, bred to Black Angus or Black Simmental-cross bulls. Average cost for these bred heifers in 2015 was $2,400. Prices change monthly based on the market. At press time, Bryant said bred heifers were being contracted at $2,000 each. "A lot of people will look at you and question the Jersey, but these heifers have decent size and the hips that will take the capacity of that high-performance black bull," Morse said. Bryant said because they don't sell just hoop barns but also breed cattle and finish 3,000 to 4,000 head of feeders annually, they know from experience what will work in a given situation. He explained the original hoop barn system (there are multiple variations, depending on what a producer needs) is 36 feet wide with a 4-foot awning over the feedbunk and a center ridge vent down the length of the building to keep air circulating. End walls and roll-up doors are steel. Lengths of buildings vary. Life of a hoop barn is between 20 and 25 years, with the fabric guaranteed for 15 years. Morse said he has seen no unusual wear and tear on his buildings, and believes they will last longer. Bryant said they've built systems in 14 states to date, with capacities ranging from 80 to 4,000 head. Recommended stocking rate is one cow/calf pair per 2 feet of running space or 2 feet of bunk space. "Ten years ago, we saw the first wave of cows going under-roof into a year-round controlled environment," Bryant says. "The main force behind this move was a lack of pasture, affordable or otherwise, in the Corn Belt. We take calls now from guys from Canada to North Carolina, all facing the same challenges. If I have grass, and I look at the cost for a cow/calf unit on that ground, many operators can't make it pencil out. That's why we developed this system." NOT FOR EVERYONE Bryant said some producers using the system are under-roof year-round, some for part of the year. It depends on the resources of each operation. "We match those resources with the producer's goals to come up with the type of system that best fits their operation and their skill set," Bryant explained. He added a cow/calf operation under-roof is not for everyone. "When we put feeder cattle under a roof, we can hide a lot of management flaws. The buildings allow people who aren't the world's best managers to do a great job of feeding. But the opposite is true if we're talking about a cow/calf operation. If you are a below-average manager, this will expose flaws. This is not for everybody, and it doesn't solve all your problems," he stressed. "If you just want to check cows once a week, this is not the best choice for you. You will be with them every day. You will need an up-to-date vaccination program, a consulting veterinarian and a nutritionist. Those are important elements in a profitable operation. Once you have cows under-roof, it's not a hobby, it's a professional operation." Grant Dewell of Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine agreed cows under-roof necessitate more intensive management. He said calves born in this environment can be more prone to scours and respiratory disease if management is anything less than excellent. The reason is partly because calves are in close proximity to each other, but it also can be due to something rare in a pasture environment—cross-fostering among cows. "The colostrum a calf gets from its dam is so critical to the immune function of that calf the first couple of months of life," Dewell explained. "In confinement, we sometimes have problems with cows that have strong maternal instincts trying to clean other cows' newborn calves; sometimes, they will do this to two or three calves. Once they clean that calf, it will nurse them, but since that cow has no colostrum, the calf won't get the immunity it needs." Dewell said this makes it critical that cow/calf producers working in this type of controlled environment have management in place to ensure calves are nursing from the right cow as soon as they are born. In the hands of a good cow/calf producer, even with these type of challenges, Bryant said he has come to believe a roof can be the best tool to get the highest number of live, weaned and healthy calves. It eliminates weather losses and deaths to predators, helps ensure cows maintain the best body condition conducive to rebreeding and makes it easier to spot and treat health issues in a timely manner. In Morse's case, breedback on the herd is at 91%. He feeds cornstalks, supplemented with distillers syrup from a nearby ethanol plant. Calves get creep feed and are weaned with their dams until moved to the feedlot. TEMPERATURE CONTROLS When asked how these barns are heated or cooled, Morse explained the design makes both unnecessary. In the winter, cattle are out of the wind, and the ridge vent down the top of the building releases steam that can build up and cause lung problems. The cattle stay dry and out of the elements. In the summer, Morse opens the north side of the building and allows the natural airflow to create a fan effect through the barn. He added there are no flies and no smell associated with the building thanks to its design and management that focuses on keeping everything dry inside the facility. Morse's operation has three calving seasons balanced around row-crop work, the need to split bull usage and marketing. Those times fall around November, February and April. Asked if he can tell a difference in terms of disposition of cows under-roof and those on pasture, the producer said there is a big improvement in cows in the barn. He describes them as more docile and said, in most cases, they allow him immediate access to their newborn calves for tagging and inspection. "I can go right up next to mom and welcome her baby to the herd," he said. "Most of these cows will let me put my hands on their heads and their hips. Honestly, it wouldn't take much for me to be able to walk up and start milking them, they have that good of a disposition. And as they get older, they just get tamer and tamer." GROWTH AREAS Bryant expects to see the use of controlled environments for cow/calf operations continue to increase, especially in the Midwest. While some in the industry commonly refer to these systems as confinement, Bryant stressed that paints the wrong picture. "'Confinement' as a word has a lot of negative concepts," he said. "We are putting cows in a controlled environment where they have cornstalks to lay on; they aren't in the mud or the snow or the rain. It is absolutely the best maternal environment you can give a cow. We give her the exact food she needs. Our goal is that she never have a bad day. Even when we wean calves, it is a totally nonstressful event. They are already eating, and they are weaned nose to nose with their dams." There's one more plus to the system, Morse said, that often goes unsaid. He believes it's about as green of a system as exists thanks to the use of the decomposed cornstalks from his fields. "Before, we'd leave cornstalk residue on the ground," he said. "It takes about five years for it to completely decompose into the soil. If we take that residue off to feed and bed our cows, and then haul it back and spread it on the same ground, we've helped speed up nature's process, and we've improved the soil. We are, in essence, utilizing a waste product, and we don't have to buy commercial fertilizer. I believe that savings alone will pay for these barns. That is green. It's a win-win for me."
Use Dormant Native Range and Supplements to Possibly Improve Cow Herd Efficiency
Maintaining cow herd nutritional requirements in an economically feasible way is vital to efficient cattle production, according to John Jaeger, Kansas State University associate professor of animal sciences. Jaeger has researched how producers can use dormant native range to graze beef cattle in conjunction with providing protein supplements. One of the biggest ways to improve economic net returns is by limiting reliance on hay, he said. But before using dormant forages in place of hay, producers should consider a number of items. “While using dormant forage as a forage base for our cow herd, we have to be aware of how much is available in the pasture before beginning to graze,” Jaeger said. “This is important so we can calculate animal days on the pasture and know the nutrient content of the available forage to know how much protein supplement to provide.” Jaeger, a beef cattle scientist with K-State Research and Extension located in Hays, Kansas, noted a past method for gathering forage availability information was by measuring a square meter, clipping and drying the forage, then weighing what was left. A more modern method of collection is to use a disc meter on a stick with a hole in the disc. Using this method, the disc is dropped down the stick; the amount of forage underneath the disc prevents it from hitting the ground. There is a ruler on the stick to measure how far the disc is being held from the ground. Similar to the previous method, the forage under the disc is clipped, dried and weighed. The resulting weight is then multiplied by 44 to get an estimate of pounds of forage per acre. “Extension agents are knowledgeable about how to clip forage,” Jaeger said. “To get a representative sample of the whole pasture, you need to clip multiple places within the pasture, and an extension agent can help you. He or she can also teach you how to use a disc meter so you get accurate measurements.” The quality of the forage and its protein content also are important, he said, and some factors can alter quality. Droughts can lead to problems, including differences in plant moisture, early plant maturing and early plant senescence. However, a drought can also lead to higher protein content in the dormant forages. So while there is less available forage available during drought conditions, it is usually higher in nutrients, Jaeger noted. Therefore, producers will not need to provide as much protein supplementation when compared to a year with normal moisture. “It is important to think about how the pasture has been used in the past as that can affect the quality or amount of forage in the dormant grazing season,” Jaeger said. “Typically, here at the research center (Agricultural Research Center – Hays), we prefer to graze our stockpiled pastures early in the spring and allow the pasture to accumulate dry matter the rest of the year.” Jaeger suggested that if a producer needs to graze a pasture over a longer period for summer grazing, he or she should use the pasture early in the summer. This will allow dry matter in the pasture to accumulate the remainder of the growing season. Also, while many forbs are not palatable to livestock, some are useful for grazing, he said. Wild petunias and sunflowers, for example, can be grazed and often have a higher protein concentration into the winter compared to native grasses. The nutrient content of these forbs also varies throughout the summer. Supplementation options “Supplementation is typically required to maintain animal performance once the pasture drops below 7 percent crude protein,” Jaeger said. “During winter months in western Kansas, we have found pastures drop to about 4 percent crude protein.” By supplementing protein to cattle, producers are feeding the rumen microbes to aide in digestion, which allows for improved performance, he said. The supplement, Jaeger said, needs to be greater than 30 percent protein. If the supplement is lower, it provides other nutrients that may be unnecessary to the cow. If the supplement is greater than 30 percent, it will improve animal performance more so than the supplements that contain less than 30 percent crude protein. When providing adequate protein, a producer will ultimately improve forage digestion. However, beef cattle also can be over-supplemented, he said. When over-supplemented, they will try to recycle some of the protein, but most is passed as waste. Past research has found that about three-tenths of a percent of body weight was the maximum, and feeding beyond that did not improve animal performance. Traditionally, the cattle industry has used oilseed supplements, such as cottonseed and soybean meals, for protein supplementation, Jaeger said. Due to the recent rise of the ethanol industry, producers have begun using distiller’s grains for protein. Distiller’s grains are often readily available and can be more cost effective on a pound-of-protein basis. “We also examined the frequency of supplementation, as it can reduce the labor and delivery costs associated with protein supplementation,” Jaeger said. “Over the years a lot of research has been done on traditional oilseed supplements. Researchers found that protein can be fed once every six days or once weekly and still maintain adequate cow performance due to the ability of the cow to recycle excess protein.” Jaeger suggested that if a producer was going to feed two pounds of a supplement daily, the producer could instead feed 14 pounds once weekly and maintain adequate performance. He also wanted to examine distiller’s grain byproducts, as they have a different crude protein makeup. The oilseed supplements have less than 50 percent rumen non-degradable protein, while the distiller’s grains have greater than 50 percent. He found there is not a difference in animal performance when feeding distiller’s grains during the last trimester of gestation when that animal was fed daily, once every three days or once every six days. Once a feeding time of either – once every three days or once every six days is scheduled, Jaeger said it should not be changed during the last trimester of gestation, as it can result in a decrease in performance. More information about beef cattle systems research at the Western Kansas Agricultural Research Centers isavailable online.
Costco Selects Site Just South of Fremont for Chicken Plant
FREMONT, Neb. (AP) _ Costco Wholesale Corp. is seeking rezoning and annexation of some property south of Fremont where it can locate a chicken processing plant. The Greater Fremont Development Council said in a news release Monday that the land is part of an industrial tract south of Cloverly Road. Costco and a Georgia company, Lincoln Premium Poultry, have been checking for a new site in the area and elsewhere since the Nickerson Village Board voted last month against a plan that would have let the plant locate between Nickerson and Fremont. Opponents have raised concerns about the plant's potential impact on schools, housing and roads. The development council has said the plant would create 1,100 new jobs and provide other financial benefits to the area.
Deere Tightens Leasing Terms
Deere & Co. said on Friday it has tightened conditions for renting equipment as a slump in farming incomes has led customers to prefer leasing rather than buying its agricultural machinery. In the face of lower crop prices, farmers in the U.S., South America and elsewhere have cut back sharply on equipment spending despite planting big crops. For nine straight quarters, the slump has eaten into Deere's sales and profits, and it is now bleeding into the company's customer-finance arm, Deere has stepped up its leasing activity in recent quarters, with leases accounting for about a quarter of its customer-financing deals lately, compared with about 15% in the past, according to estimates by industry analysts. But its finance unit and dealers have been burdened with used equipment as customers walk away when short-term leases expire. That has forced the company to tighten the terms for renting equipment that has rapidly depreciated in value. Deere, which took a write-down on used equipment in the latest quarter, said it is restructuring leases to share more of the risk of further declines with dealers. New leases also will likely cost farmers more as the company lowers residual equipment values at the end of the leases to reflect the depressed prices for used equipment. "The focus is on how do we reduce some of that risk, primarily around the short-term portion of the business," Deere investor relations director Tony Huegel said on a call after the company reported a 28% drop in second-quarter profit and cut its 2016 outlook for a second time this year. Deere shares fell 5.4% to $77.74 on Friday as the downbeat outlook outweighed quarterly results that beat analyst expectations. The company warned of steeper sales declines for its construction machinery business in the current fiscal year and trimmed the profit forecast for its finance unit. Earnings from that business fell 39% to $103 million in the latest quarter. Deere's overseas sales remain under pressure, especially in Brazil, where like peers it must deal with a strong U.S. dollar as well as economic and political turmoil. Deere now expects industrywide sales of farm equipment in South America to fall by 15% to 20% this year, 5 percentage points steeper than its prior forecast. The Moline, Ill.-based company expects a profit of about $1.2 billion for the fiscal year ending Oct. 31, down around $100 million from its February forecast and below analyst expectations. Deere last year earned $1.9 billion. For the quarter ended April 30, Deere reported a profit of $495.4 million, or $1.56 a share, down from $690.5 million, or $2.03 a share, a year earlier. Equipment sales declined 4% to $7.1 billion. Deere's construction and forestry equipment unit was especially weak, as sales fell 16% to $1.4 billion and operating profit plunged 61% to $74 million. Deere now expects construction equipment sales to fall 13% this year after previously predicting an 11% sales decline. Its farm machinery business performed better than expected during the quarter, thanks mostly to the timing of recent sales. Farm equipment sales slipped 0.4% to $5.7 billion, well above analyst expectations for $5.2 billion. Operating profit dropped 4% to $614 million. The company now expects farm equipment sales to decline 8% this year; it had previously forecast a 10% decrease.
Nebraska Gasoline Blends Top 13 Billion Gallons of Ethanol
High octane, less expensive, locally produced, renewable – no matter the reason, Nebraska motor fuel sales show that drivers continue to choose ethanol-blended gasoline. According to the Nebraska Department of Revenue Motor Fuels Division, in the last 37 years more than 13 billion gallons of ethanol have been sold in the Nebraska fuel market. Ethanol has gained a steady market acceptance in Nebraska, starting in 1978 with just 1/10 of a percent of Nebraska gasoline blended with ethanol. In 2015, 85 percent of Nebraska gasoline contained ethanol, and currently about 90 percent of the nation’s fuel includes ethanol. “Ethanol has been part of our fuel supply for almost 40 years,” said Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. “Given the choice, consumers purchase homegrown, renewable ethanol that is less expensive and burns cleaner.” Nebraska has more than 80 fuel pumps around the state that dispense blends higher than E10 including E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline). About one in seven Nebraskans are driving a flex fuel vehicle that can operate on any blend of ethanol and gasoline up to E85. In 2001, EPA approved E15 (15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline) for use in light-duty cars, pickups and SUVs model 2001 and newer. “More fuel retailers are starting to sell E15 and higher blends of ethanol in Nebraska and nationwide,” Sneller said. “Approximately 80 percent of cars, trucks and SUVs on the road today are approved to use E15, and with pollution mitigation efforts underway in large cities, we’ll continue to see more ethanol blended in our fuel.” In 2015, the use of ethanol in gasoline reduced greenhouse gas emissions on our roads and highways by 41.2 million metric tons. That’s equivalent to removing 8.7 million cars from the road, according to the Renewable Fuels Association. Nebraska is the nation’s second-largest producer of ethanol with 25 plants. According to a recent University of Nebraska-Lincoln study, the ethanol industry has a $5 billion annual economic impact on the state.
$140 Million Ethanol Plant Planned Near Onida Delayed
ONIDA, S.D. (AP) _ A $140 million ethanol plant planned just outside of Onida is having trouble getting off the ground. Ringneck Energy had hoped to start construction this spring and have the plant operating in a year. But Ringneck Energy President and CEO Walt Wendland says the company is about $20 million short of the $75 million in startup money it needs. The company also is still awaiting a state air quality permit that it had expected to have by February. The state Department of Energy and Natural Resources has had to respond to comments from plant opponents. Opponents also have sued over Sully County's zoning approval for the plant. That case is before the state Supreme Court. Wendland says construction isn't likely until fall, with the plant not operating until late 2018.
Meat Institute Welcomes USITC Report Affirming Positive Economic Impact of TPP
The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) welcomes the positive findings of the U.S. International Trade Commission’s (USITC) report regarding the beneficial impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on the U.S. economy, agriculture sector and meat and poultry industry, in particular. The report affirms the potential economic gains for American businesses and workers in a region that accounts for nearly 40 percent of global gross domestic product. “The USITC’s report underscores the critical importance of TPP to the long-term economic stability and viability of the U.S. meat and poultry industry,” said NAMI President and CEO Barry Carpenter. “By facilitating trade and investment, as well as reducing or eliminating tariffs and non-tariff barriers on U.S. meat, poultry and animal products in the Asia-Pacific region, TPP will yield greater value for U.S. companies and products, will support high-paying American jobs and will enhance the competitiveness of the U.S. industry in foreign markets.” In 2015, 10 percent of U.S. beef production, 20 percent of pork production and 16 percent of poultry production was exported to foreign markets, according to USDA. While TPP will augment the competitiveness of U.S. meat and poultry exports across all countries represented in the agreement, meat and poultry exports to high-tariff, high-demand markets, like Japan and Vietnam, will benefit significantly. For instance, under the agreement, Japan will reduce import tariffs on major cuts of fresh and frozen U.S. beef to nine percent over 15 years after the entry-into-force date, down from the current level of 38.5 percent. Meanwhile, tariffs on U.S. pork exports to Japan, which are as high as 20 percent, will be phased out over a number of years. “TPP will strengthen our strategic relationships with trading partners in the Asia-Pacific region, while promoting transparency, driving innovation and supporting robust labor standards,” Carpenter added. “This trade agreement bolsters U.S. leadership in an important economic and geopolitical arena, and provides American businesses with greater confidence and certainty in the international marketplace.” TPP will also strengthen exports of meat industry byproducts, such as hides and skins used to manufacture leather. In 2015, more than 90 percent of hides and skins, the largest, and most valuable, byproduct of the industry, were exported to foreign markets. Consequently, the agreement will enhance the competitiveness of U.S. products in key global leather and footwear manufacturing markets, thereby providing greater value and higher returns for U.S. businesses. “TPP offers a tremendous export opportunity for U.S. hides, skins and value-added products, such as semi-processed ‘wet blue’ hides,” said U.S. Hide, Skin and Leather Association President Stephen Sothmann. “U.S. suppliers can capitalize on the increased market access for value-added products, particularly in Vietnam, which currently imports approximately 85 percent of its leather from China.” “USITC’s report reveals that the U.S. cannot sit idly by while other TPP countries negotiate bilateral and regional free trade agreements that would place American exports, including meat and poultry exports, at a competitive disadvantage,” said Carpenter. “Failure to ratify TPP will result in lost market share for U.S. meat exports, and undermines the long-term position of the U.S. meat and poultry industry, which relies on identifying new markets and consumers.” TPP is a regional trade deal that includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The agreement, and the economic and trade opportunities it represents, also provides a foundation for trade expansion worldwide as it includes the prospect of adding other countries in the future, such as Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand—all of which have expressed interest in joining the trade bloc.
EPA Looks to Propose Pollinator Rule Before Obama Term Ends
New regulations that would require pesticide makers to begin submitting more data to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on how their products affect pollinators are set to be proposed before President Barack Obama leaves office. Under current regulations EPA may request pollinator data on an as-needed basis if there is concern a pesticide may harm the crucial insects. The new regulation would specify what types of data companies would need to submit for certain types of chemicals. EPA plans to formally propose the rule in January, according to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) May 18 regulatory agenda update. EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) is also developing a guidance document for pesticide makers which outlines the protocols to follow when conducting pollinator risk studies for their products, according to remarks by Anita Pease, a division director at a May 18 pesticide stakeholder meeting. Other planned EPA regulatory actions on pesticides include relaxing requirements for publishing pesticide actions in the Federal Register, expected to be proposed Aug. 2016, and small changes to pesticide incident reporting requirements, set to be finalized Oct. 2016.
Moran Sponsored Ag Bill Passes Full Appropriations Committee
The full Senate Appropriations Committee today approved U.S. Senator Jerry Moran’s (R-Kan.) bill to support farmers and ranchers, encourage rural economic development, and enhance food safety in fiscal year 2017. The legislation, which Sen. Moran authored as Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman, directs funding and operations within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The legislation balances continued investment in rural America with fiscal responsibility by reducing federal spending compared to currently enacted levels. “Agriculture is the backbone of our state’s economy,” said Sen. Moran. “This bill prioritizes interests crucial to farmers and ranchers in Kansas and across the country by investing in agriculture research, conservation and animal health initiatives. The legislation emphasizes food safety efforts, which will help keep families across the country healthy and maintain consumer confidence in American-produced food. The legislation also increases flood prevention and conservation efforts by addressing watershed project backlogs in Kansas and other states. Sen. Moran continued, “I’m especially proud of provisions in the bill that incentivize military veterans to explore opportunities in production agriculture. Encouraging our veterans to pursue farming, ranching and other careers in agriculture will strengthen our farm economy while empowering vets to apply their unique skill sets and abilities to agricultural production.” The bill prioritizes a number of key issues for Kansans, including: Agriculture research Increases support for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), USDA’s premier competitive grant program for basic and applied agriculture research. Studies estimate that every dollar invested in agriculture research returns $20 to the U.S. economy. Research completed at USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) labs and universities in Kansas keep producers on the cutting edge of technology and competitive in a global market. Watershed and flood prevention Supports the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations program for the first time since fiscal year 2010. This program protects our rural communities from flooding by providing needed support for watershed projects. Watersheds also protect our natural resources and provide conservation benefits by reducing erosion and increasing sediment retention. Estimates show that in Kansas alone, watershed projects in place today provide $115 million in economic and flood damage reduction benefits. Veteran outreach Includes funding for the Food and Agriculture Resilience Program for Military Veterans (FARM-Vets) program and directs USDA to engage in additional outreach and training for veterans transitioning from military service to careers in agriculture. Nearly 40 percent of the nation’s farms are owned and operated by farmers over the age of 65 creating a significant demand new farmers, while at the same time, over 800,000 service members are expected to transition out of the military in the coming years. Rural water systems Provides robust support for the Grassroots Source Water Protection Program and Circuit Rider Program, which are designed to provide technical assistance to rural water systems and prevent pollution of surface and ground water used as the primary source of drinking water by rural residents. Sen. Moran believes the ability for rural communities to provide safe drinking water to its citizens is of utmost importance. Food safety initiatives Supports implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which intends to improve preventive control measures for food production, decrease foodborne illness outbreaks, and better ensure the safety of imported food. Preventing food contamination keeps consumers safe and heathy and helps agriculture stakeholders by instilling confidence in our food systems. The U.S. Senate now has the opportunity to debate the agriculture bill, along with the other 11 appropriations bill required of Congress annually.