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The Friday Fontanelle Final Bell Heather Ramsey of the ARC Group

Highlight of the day was the wheat market…crop doesn’t look good & the market is finally responded to it.  EU wheat isn’t good, U.S. wheat has some struggles.  Tension once again with China.  Shifting away from planting & focus goes to weather & plant growth.  Rains of the past...

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The Friday Fontanelle Final Bell Heather Ramsey of the ARC Group

Highlight of the day was the wheat market…crop doesn’t look good & the market is finally responded to it.  EU wheat isn’t good, U.S. wheat has some struggles.  Tension once again with China.  Shifting away from planting & focus goes to weather & plant growth.  Rains of the past...

Read More

Season Two of Nebraska Show 'Heartland Docs, DVM' to Premiere Saturday

The husband-and-wife veterinary duo from northeast Nebraska are making their season two debut this weekend on Nat Geo Wild for their show, Heartland Docs, DVM. Drs. Ben and Erin Schroeder, who live and work in Hartington, Nebraska, said season one was all about bringing real rural Nebraska experi...

Read More

AUDIO: Market Commentary with Daily Brokers

Summary Closing Market Recap Friday 5/29 Whoa this week has went by fast. Of course it was shortened one day with Monday being Memorial day. After the long weekend bullish traders were quick to come back on Monday, but by Friday the trade seems to have divided into two camps. One being bul...

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Box Butte County Fair Board votes to move forward with fair

Another county fair is deciding to go forward after Governor Pete Ricketts announced on May 21, Nebraska Department of Agriculture guidance would leave the decision to move forward or not, with a county fair or livestock event, being decided at the local level. Locally members of the Box Butte Co...

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Nebraska 'Beefs Up' Beef Month | Friday Five | May 29, 2020

Beef Month may be coming to an end, but you can celebrate beef all summer long! Nebraska has the top three beef cow counties in the U.S., including the nation’s No. 1 cow county – Cherry County, followed by Custer and Holt Counties. Cattle also outnumber Nebraskans nearly 4 to 1, and there...

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Crops

The Friday Fontanelle Final Bell Heather Ramsey of the ARC Group

Highlight of the day was the wheat market…crop doesn’t look good & the market is finally responded to it.  EU wheat isn’t good, U.S. wheat has some struggles.  Tension once again with China.  Shifting away from planting & focus goes to weather & plant growth.  Rains of the past few days will help out the crops with upcoming heat.  Bean exports were small, but to China.  

AUDIO: Market Commentary with Daily Brokers

Summary Closing Market Recap Friday 5/29 Whoa this week has went by fast. Of course it was shortened one day with Monday being Memorial day. After the long weekend bullish traders were quick to come back on Monday, but by Friday the trade seems to have divided into two camps. One being bullish and focusing on the positive economic data coming from states re-opening. The other camp being the bears wanting to be overly concerned with increasing US China trade tensions. So far the week has mostly went to the bullish camp, but Friday brought risk off sentiment most of the day. That sentiment centered around President Trump scheduling a late afternoon press conference at the White House. Following the press conference though equity and currency traders were ready to step back into the market. DOW Futures were back up 28 points at the time of this writing. While President Trump did remove the US from the WHO and place Hong Kong under the same umbrella for sanctions as China he didn't bring up trade. The Phase One trade deal was not mentioned in his speech and looks to be intact. China according to Reuters has now threatened to purchase fewer US goods if it continues with backlash against Hong Kong. Back to the data on the week we start in the non-ag markets. Thursday saw analysts report that the US economy shrank 5% in the first quarter of 2020. Analysts expect that the second quarter of 2020 will be even worse given the prolonged shutdown that continued through much of May. US jobless claims also came in at 2.12 million on Thursday. That was right at analyst expectations, but below the previous week. Wednesday there was little for economic data, but the FED's beige book showed some positive signs in the afternoon. The beige book is where each Federal Reserve Bank gathers anecdotal information on current economic conditions in its District through reports from Bank and Branch directors and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources. The Beige Book for May showed; wage pressure was mixed across the country, consumer pricing pressures varied but were steady to down modestly on balance, and in New York there were scattered signs of a pickup in early May. Tuesday saw a surprise in new home sales. Analysts expected a sharp decline in new home sales to an annualized rate of 495,000 in April. Sales actually improved in April to an annualized rate of 623,000. Homes buyers seem to be taking full advantage of record low mortgage rates. Maybe the best trade action on the week has been in the US Dollar index. Investors have been thawing their money from the safe haven  asset and pushing it towards equities and even a few commodities. The technical damage done to the US Dollar has also been significant with it now trading well below it's 50 and 100 day moving averages. Likely making them points of resistance in the future. On the week the US Dollar index will drop about 1.6%. Energies were sideways on the trade until Thursday. That's when they soured in the morning on the latest stocks report.  National crude oil stocks excluding the strategic petroleum reserve gained 7.9 million barrels to 534.4 million barrels. Following Thursday morning energies turned around and came back on the soft dollar. Friday afternoon's close brought WTI crude oil back above $35/barrel. Ethanol production and stocks are reflecting an increase in consumer driving. Ethanol production increased back to it's highest level since late March at 724,000 barrels per day. Ethanol stocks shrank almost 500,000 barrels to 23.176 million barrels. That is 4.5 million barrels down from it's highs. Grains were mixed much of the week, but at the end wheat divorced corn and soybeans. Wheat moved higher on it's own. Hot dry weather is predicted for much of the winter wheat belt over  the next 7-10 days. Long range forecasts are also starting to dry for the month of June.  A hot dry summer isn't good American farmers, but it may actually help the global balance sheet. The global wheat stockpile without China is expected to see ending stocks at 149.7 MMT. That would be a three year high and the second largest on record.   The latest crop progress report shows winter wheat improving in quality. Nationally the crop improved 2% to 54% good to excellent. Kansas remained unchanged at 40% good to excellent. Nebraska improved 3% to 70% good to excellent. Colorado wheat farmers are still struggling with a poor crop as only 32% of the winter wheat is considered good to excellent. Corn and soybean planting continue well ahead of their five year average. Nebraska and Iowa are both 97% complete for corn planting. As expected North Dakota and Pennsylvania are just at the half way point for corn planting. This may help curb some corn acres, but for the majority the US looks to have another large crop developing. Friday brought the latest USDA exports and net sales for the week. Corn and soybeans saw a decrease in net sales week to week while wheat saw a slight increase. Corn saw net sales of 427,200 MT for the 19/20 marketing year. That was down 52% from the previous week. The top buyer was Japan at 171,300 MT. Corn exports totaled 1,061,200 MT, down 16% from the previous week. The top destination was Mexico 321,200 MT. Soybean net sales were 644,300 MT for the 19/20 marketing year, down 47% from the previous week. The top buyer was China 192,400 MT. Soybean exports totaled 331,800 MT, which is a marketing year low. It's also down 34% from the previous week. Mexico was the top destination for US soybeans taking in over 116,400 MT. Wheat saw net sales of 209,800 MT for the 19/20 marketing year. That was up 19% from the previous week. Vietnam was the top buyer of US wheat at 60,000 MT. Wheat exports totaled 561,200 MT up 53% from the previous week. China was the top destination for US wheat at 166,400 MT. There were no flash sales from USDA last week, but Tuesday got rolling with two sales. The first 264,000 MT of soybeans sold to China; 66,000 MT for the 19/20 marketing year and 198,000 MT for the 20/21 marketing year. USDA retracted it's Wednesday release and said that the 138,000 MT of soybean meal that was originally changed from unknown to the Philippines was actually a new sale. The unknown destinations purchased 216,000 MT of soybean meal for the 19/20 marketing year was also the Philippines. Monday export inspections showed week to week reductions for all grains except wheat. Corn was still fairly solid at 1,091, 972 MT vs. 1,182,471 MT. Soybean export inspections were 333,127 MT vs. 356,078 MT.  Wheat export inspections were 535,691 MT vs 506,323 MT. Sorghum exports were 140,458 MT vs. 285,813 MT. All grains inspected for export thus far in the 2019-2020 marketing year is just over 90 MMT. That is still about 7.8 MMT less than the previous marketing year. The largest spread between marketing years is corn which is about 8.2 MMT behind the previous marketing year. Soybeans and sorghum are both ahead of the previous marketing year. Wheat is almost steady with the previous marketing year. Livestock were mixed on the week. The biggest move for live cattle came on Wednesday with all contracts settling for the first time in almost two months above $100. The $100 run would be short lived as June an August contracts settled back below $100 on Friday. The risk off sentiment in the entire market complex as the time was to much to overcome and the contracts retreated back to more stable area's of support. With the mute feeling following the President's press conference traders could return Monday ready to buy cattle. Lean hogs on the other hand caught the buying early and were able to settle with modest gains on Friday. China was again a notable buyer of US pork and didn't have any cancellations like the previous week. Beef net export sales were 11,500 MT up noticeably from the previous week. South Korea was the top buyer at 5,400 MT. Beef exports totaled 11,300 MT up 3% from the previous week. The top destination being Japan at 4,500 MT. Pork net export sales were 20,600 MT up noticeably from the previous week's net reduction. Mexico (9,000 MT) and China (6,100 MT) fought it out to be the top buyer. Pork exports totaled 34,500 MT down 31% from the previous week. China was still the top destination at 15,200 MT. The country saw a slow trickle of cash trade all week. Friday afternoon saw mostly dressed business in Nebraska at $190. Tuesday, Wednesday  and Thursday had live deals in the South with a full range of $110 to $120 while Northern dressed deals had a range of $174 to $190. The Fed Cattle Exchange Auction on Wednesday listed a total of 1,164 head, four lots in Texas, totaling 801 head, and three lots in Kansas, totaling 363 head. No cattle actually sold. Asking prices ranged from $115 to $120. All were set for 1-17 day delivery. For the week ending May 16, 2020, Imported Beef Passed for Entry in the U.S. totaled 41,699, 111.33% of the previous week and 107.88% of the 4-week average.   Expected Slaughter numbers Friday Cattle 111,000 hd today 103,000 hd wk ago 123,707 hd yr ago Saturday 74,000 hd Sat 54,000 hd wk ago 95,687 hd yr ago Hogs 413,000 hd today 394,000 hd wk ago 472,531 hd yr ago Saturday 290,000 hd Sat. 170,000 hd wk ago 249,976 hd yr ago   Midday Carcass Value Friday Beef Choice dn 3.99 365.57 Select dn 0.63 343.46 C/S Spread 22.11 Loads 64 Pork Carcass dn 1.37 90.83 Bellies up 4.99 90.08 Loads 396   Grains Settlements Corn dn 1 1/4 -2 Soybeans dn 6 1/4 up 1 1/4 Chicago Wht up 2 1/2 - 6 1/4 Kansas City Wht  up 6 - 6 1/2 Livestock Settlements Live Cattle dn 0.07 - 1.75 Feeder Cattle dn 0.15 -1.52 Lean Hogs  dn 0.07 up 1.70 Class III Milk up 0.06 - 0.55 Pre-Opening Market Broker Commentary Mark Gold, Top Third Ag Marketing, discusses overnight grains and what the trade may see today. Hot weather on the way, but it could take a back seat with Hong Kong tensions ramping up Friday morning. Jerry Stowell, Country Futures,  looks at what may impact the livestock futures today. Mike Zuzolo, Global Commodity Analytics, takes a look at the midday trade. John Payne, Daniels Ag Marketing, looks at the grain settlements. Jack Fenske, York Commodities, looks at the closing market numbers. cycle.

Northern Plain Farm Labor Analysis

LINCOLN, Neb. May 28, 2020 - In the Northern Plains Region (Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota) there were 42,000 workers hired directly by farm operators on farms and ranches during the week of April 12-18, 2020, up 40 percent from the April 2019 reference week, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Workers numbered 35,000 during the week of January 12-18, 2020, up 40 percent from the January 2019 reference week. Farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage of $15.93 per hour during the April 2020 reference week, up 2 percent from the April 2019 reference week. Field workers received an average of $15.89 per hour, down 24 cents. Livestock workers earned $14.59 per hour compared with $13.42 a year earlier. The field and livestock worker combined wage rate, at $15.20, was up 60 cents from the April 2019 reference week. Hired laborers worked an average of 41.5 hours during the April 2020 reference week, compared with 42.9 hours worked during the April 2019 reference week. Farm operators in the Northern Plains Region paid their hired workers an average wage of $16.41 per hour during the January 2020 reference week, up 4 percent from the January 2019 reference week. Field workers received an average of $16.83 per hour, up 19 cents. Livestock workers earned $14.63 per hour, up 121 cents. The field and livestock worker combined wage rate, at $15.55, was up 85 cents from the January 2019 reference week. Hired laborers worked an average of 40.9 hours during the January 2020 reference week, compared with 42.9 hours worked during the January 2019 reference week. Access the National publication for this release at: https://usda.library.cornell.edu/concern/publications/x920fw89s Find agricultural statistics for your county, State, and the Nation at www.nass.usda.gov

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Livestock

Season Two of Nebraska Show 'Heartland Docs, DVM' to Premiere Saturday

The husband-and-wife veterinary duo from northeast Nebraska are making their season two debut this weekend on Nat Geo Wild for their show, Heartland Docs, DVM. Drs. Ben and Erin Schroeder, who live and work in Hartington, Nebraska, said season one was all about bringing real rural Nebraska experiences to their viewers across the country. “Just to get that story out there that these farmers really, really care about their animals with all their heart and soul, it made us feel good showing the story that needs to be shared,” said Ben. Although it’s less common for a national television show to originate from Nebraska, Erin said the couple was noticed nationally through their efforts in renovating a historic hotel in the community, Hotel Hartington. After visiting with the couple, the producers discovered their veterinary business that serves rural Nebraskans. “It was the veterinary business, and really the people and animals we treat that captured their hearts,” said Erin. The couple said season two of Heartland Docs, DVM will feature a pygmy goat named Veronica. They will also be treating a number of cattle, horses, dogs, cats, bison and more. Season two will premiere on Nat Geo Wild at 8/7 central on May 30, 2020. Watch season one on Disney Plus and Hulu Live. Follow Drs. Ben and Erin on social media @docsbenanderin and at www.docsbenanderin.com.  

AUDIO: Market Commentary with Daily Brokers

Summary Closing Market Recap Friday 5/29 Whoa this week has went by fast. Of course it was shortened one day with Monday being Memorial day. After the long weekend bullish traders were quick to come back on Monday, but by Friday the trade seems to have divided into two camps. One being bullish and focusing on the positive economic data coming from states re-opening. The other camp being the bears wanting to be overly concerned with increasing US China trade tensions. So far the week has mostly went to the bullish camp, but Friday brought risk off sentiment most of the day. That sentiment centered around President Trump scheduling a late afternoon press conference at the White House. Following the press conference though equity and currency traders were ready to step back into the market. DOW Futures were back up 28 points at the time of this writing. While President Trump did remove the US from the WHO and place Hong Kong under the same umbrella for sanctions as China he didn't bring up trade. The Phase One trade deal was not mentioned in his speech and looks to be intact. China according to Reuters has now threatened to purchase fewer US goods if it continues with backlash against Hong Kong. Back to the data on the week we start in the non-ag markets. Thursday saw analysts report that the US economy shrank 5% in the first quarter of 2020. Analysts expect that the second quarter of 2020 will be even worse given the prolonged shutdown that continued through much of May. US jobless claims also came in at 2.12 million on Thursday. That was right at analyst expectations, but below the previous week. Wednesday there was little for economic data, but the FED's beige book showed some positive signs in the afternoon. The beige book is where each Federal Reserve Bank gathers anecdotal information on current economic conditions in its District through reports from Bank and Branch directors and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources. The Beige Book for May showed; wage pressure was mixed across the country, consumer pricing pressures varied but were steady to down modestly on balance, and in New York there were scattered signs of a pickup in early May. Tuesday saw a surprise in new home sales. Analysts expected a sharp decline in new home sales to an annualized rate of 495,000 in April. Sales actually improved in April to an annualized rate of 623,000. Homes buyers seem to be taking full advantage of record low mortgage rates. Maybe the best trade action on the week has been in the US Dollar index. Investors have been thawing their money from the safe haven  asset and pushing it towards equities and even a few commodities. The technical damage done to the US Dollar has also been significant with it now trading well below it's 50 and 100 day moving averages. Likely making them points of resistance in the future. On the week the US Dollar index will drop about 1.6%. Energies were sideways on the trade until Thursday. That's when they soured in the morning on the latest stocks report.  National crude oil stocks excluding the strategic petroleum reserve gained 7.9 million barrels to 534.4 million barrels. Following Thursday morning energies turned around and came back on the soft dollar. Friday afternoon's close brought WTI crude oil back above $35/barrel. Ethanol production and stocks are reflecting an increase in consumer driving. Ethanol production increased back to it's highest level since late March at 724,000 barrels per day. Ethanol stocks shrank almost 500,000 barrels to 23.176 million barrels. That is 4.5 million barrels down from it's highs. Grains were mixed much of the week, but at the end wheat divorced corn and soybeans. Wheat moved higher on it's own. Hot dry weather is predicted for much of the winter wheat belt over  the next 7-10 days. Long range forecasts are also starting to dry for the month of June.  A hot dry summer isn't good American farmers, but it may actually help the global balance sheet. The global wheat stockpile without China is expected to see ending stocks at 149.7 MMT. That would be a three year high and the second largest on record.   The latest crop progress report shows winter wheat improving in quality. Nationally the crop improved 2% to 54% good to excellent. Kansas remained unchanged at 40% good to excellent. Nebraska improved 3% to 70% good to excellent. Colorado wheat farmers are still struggling with a poor crop as only 32% of the winter wheat is considered good to excellent. Corn and soybean planting continue well ahead of their five year average. Nebraska and Iowa are both 97% complete for corn planting. As expected North Dakota and Pennsylvania are just at the half way point for corn planting. This may help curb some corn acres, but for the majority the US looks to have another large crop developing. Friday brought the latest USDA exports and net sales for the week. Corn and soybeans saw a decrease in net sales week to week while wheat saw a slight increase. Corn saw net sales of 427,200 MT for the 19/20 marketing year. That was down 52% from the previous week. The top buyer was Japan at 171,300 MT. Corn exports totaled 1,061,200 MT, down 16% from the previous week. The top destination was Mexico 321,200 MT. Soybean net sales were 644,300 MT for the 19/20 marketing year, down 47% from the previous week. The top buyer was China 192,400 MT. Soybean exports totaled 331,800 MT, which is a marketing year low. It's also down 34% from the previous week. Mexico was the top destination for US soybeans taking in over 116,400 MT. Wheat saw net sales of 209,800 MT for the 19/20 marketing year. That was up 19% from the previous week. Vietnam was the top buyer of US wheat at 60,000 MT. Wheat exports totaled 561,200 MT up 53% from the previous week. China was the top destination for US wheat at 166,400 MT. There were no flash sales from USDA last week, but Tuesday got rolling with two sales. The first 264,000 MT of soybeans sold to China; 66,000 MT for the 19/20 marketing year and 198,000 MT for the 20/21 marketing year. USDA retracted it's Wednesday release and said that the 138,000 MT of soybean meal that was originally changed from unknown to the Philippines was actually a new sale. The unknown destinations purchased 216,000 MT of soybean meal for the 19/20 marketing year was also the Philippines. Monday export inspections showed week to week reductions for all grains except wheat. Corn was still fairly solid at 1,091, 972 MT vs. 1,182,471 MT. Soybean export inspections were 333,127 MT vs. 356,078 MT.  Wheat export inspections were 535,691 MT vs 506,323 MT. Sorghum exports were 140,458 MT vs. 285,813 MT. All grains inspected for export thus far in the 2019-2020 marketing year is just over 90 MMT. That is still about 7.8 MMT less than the previous marketing year. The largest spread between marketing years is corn which is about 8.2 MMT behind the previous marketing year. Soybeans and sorghum are both ahead of the previous marketing year. Wheat is almost steady with the previous marketing year. Livestock were mixed on the week. The biggest move for live cattle came on Wednesday with all contracts settling for the first time in almost two months above $100. The $100 run would be short lived as June an August contracts settled back below $100 on Friday. The risk off sentiment in the entire market complex as the time was to much to overcome and the contracts retreated back to more stable area's of support. With the mute feeling following the President's press conference traders could return Monday ready to buy cattle. Lean hogs on the other hand caught the buying early and were able to settle with modest gains on Friday. China was again a notable buyer of US pork and didn't have any cancellations like the previous week. Beef net export sales were 11,500 MT up noticeably from the previous week. South Korea was the top buyer at 5,400 MT. Beef exports totaled 11,300 MT up 3% from the previous week. The top destination being Japan at 4,500 MT. Pork net export sales were 20,600 MT up noticeably from the previous week's net reduction. Mexico (9,000 MT) and China (6,100 MT) fought it out to be the top buyer. Pork exports totaled 34,500 MT down 31% from the previous week. China was still the top destination at 15,200 MT. The country saw a slow trickle of cash trade all week. Friday afternoon saw mostly dressed business in Nebraska at $190. Tuesday, Wednesday  and Thursday had live deals in the South with a full range of $110 to $120 while Northern dressed deals had a range of $174 to $190. The Fed Cattle Exchange Auction on Wednesday listed a total of 1,164 head, four lots in Texas, totaling 801 head, and three lots in Kansas, totaling 363 head. No cattle actually sold. Asking prices ranged from $115 to $120. All were set for 1-17 day delivery. For the week ending May 16, 2020, Imported Beef Passed for Entry in the U.S. totaled 41,699, 111.33% of the previous week and 107.88% of the 4-week average.   Expected Slaughter numbers Friday Cattle 111,000 hd today 103,000 hd wk ago 123,707 hd yr ago Saturday 74,000 hd Sat 54,000 hd wk ago 95,687 hd yr ago Hogs 413,000 hd today 394,000 hd wk ago 472,531 hd yr ago Saturday 290,000 hd Sat. 170,000 hd wk ago 249,976 hd yr ago   Midday Carcass Value Friday Beef Choice dn 3.99 365.57 Select dn 0.63 343.46 C/S Spread 22.11 Loads 64 Pork Carcass dn 1.37 90.83 Bellies up 4.99 90.08 Loads 396   Grains Settlements Corn dn 1 1/4 -2 Soybeans dn 6 1/4 up 1 1/4 Chicago Wht up 2 1/2 - 6 1/4 Kansas City Wht  up 6 - 6 1/2 Livestock Settlements Live Cattle dn 0.07 - 1.75 Feeder Cattle dn 0.15 -1.52 Lean Hogs  dn 0.07 up 1.70 Class III Milk up 0.06 - 0.55 Pre-Opening Market Broker Commentary Mark Gold, Top Third Ag Marketing, discusses overnight grains and what the trade may see today. Hot weather on the way, but it could take a back seat with Hong Kong tensions ramping up Friday morning. Jerry Stowell, Country Futures,  looks at what may impact the livestock futures today. Mike Zuzolo, Global Commodity Analytics, takes a look at the midday trade. John Payne, Daniels Ag Marketing, looks at the grain settlements. Jack Fenske, York Commodities, looks at the closing market numbers. cycle.

Box Butte County Fair Board votes to move forward with fair

Another county fair is deciding to go forward after Governor Pete Ricketts announced on May 21, Nebraska Department of Agriculture guidance would leave the decision to move forward or not, with a county fair or livestock event, being decided at the local level. Locally members of the Box Butte County Fair Board met on Thursday, May 28, and decided to move forward with this year's fair. "We decided to go ahead with basically a full-fledged fair, and hopefully we can be at better than the 25 percent capacity, they're saying now," said Ron Henzler, president of the Box Butte County Fair. Part of the reason for the board's decision to move forward with the fair was based on the 4-H and FFA youth. Many had had their livestock since late last year or early this year before Covid-19 began closing events and venues. It's a stressful and emotional time, Henzler said, but they are working to make the fair as safe as possible. "We're not trying to put anyone at risk, we'll have all the guidelines in place," he said. "We'll have signage, and we'll all do all we can to keep everyone safe." The Box Butte County Fair will be held the first week in August, with the horse show and shooting events leading up to the kickoff on Saturday, Aug. 1. The fair will host it's popular events and is looking to have its concert with Ned LeDoux on Aug. 8  

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Technology

USDA Funding Rural Water and Wastewater Improvements

The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced a $281 million investment for 106 projects to improve rural water and wastewater infrastructure. Announced by deputy undersecretary for rural development Bette Brand, the funding will assist rural communities in 36 states and Puerto Rico. Brand says the investments will “bring modern, reliable water and wastewater infrastructure to rural communities.” USDA is funding the projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. Eligible applicants include rural cities, towns and water districts. The funds can be used for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems in rural communities that meet population limits. The funds will help rural communities replace deteriorating, leaking water pipes with new ones, and upgrade water and wastewater handling systems that are decades old. USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. For a list of funded projects, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

Nebraska Duo Eyes End to Costly Swine Diseases

Lincoln, Nebraska, May 28, 2020 — Two University of Nebraska–Lincoln researchers have received $1 million in grant funding to continue research that could lead to the development of vaccines and genetic-selection tools to fight some of the world’s costliest swine diseases.  Husker researchers Daniel Ciobanu and Hiep Vu have each recently been awarded a three-year, $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. It is the third NIFA grant for each.  Ciobanu, an associate professor of molecular genetics in the Department of Animal Science, is working to identify the role a pig’s genes play in resistance to viral diseases. His research mostly focuses on porcine circovirus 2, a pathogen found in global swine populations that costs U.S. pork producers more than $250 million annually.  Vu, an assistant professor in the Nebraska Center for Virology and Department of Animal Science, is engaged in developing vaccines to protect pigs against viruses such as swine influenza and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus, which affect swine production worldwide.  Their work may seem to go against each other in some ways, Ciobanu said. If the gene variant that makes an animal susceptible to a viral disease can be identified and over time eliminated from the swine population, is a vaccine even needed? But Ciobanu said their research actually complements each other.  “Hiep and I will have totally opposite kinds of objectives, but they tie together way more than other people believe,” Ciobanu said. “You can use both vaccination and host genome profiling to provide a better immune response. You can vaccinate only certain animals that are susceptible, and you don’t need to vaccinate everyone. This is valid in humans and could be valid in animals, as well.”  Ciobanu’s research will build upon data he began collecting eight years ago from more than 1,000 pigs infected with porcine circovirus 2 at the university’s Animal Science Complex. After genotyping the pigs with 60,000 data markers and conducting extensive DNA and RNA sequencing, a breakthrough discovery was made. The team has identified a gene called Synapogyrin 2 that is associated with resistance to porcine circovirus 2, the smallest virus that infects mammalian cells.  Early identification of pigs susceptible to the virus would improve the general health and welfare of swine populations worldwide, Ciobanu said, with potential benefits for other livestock species and even humans.  “If the swine industry can use this gene variant or mutation as a DNA marker to select for disease resistance, then they can assess its impact in cattle and other livestock and even in humans,” Ciobanu said.  The next phase of Ciobanu’s work will be done in vitro, using cell lines engineered with different mutations of Synapogyrin 2. Ciobanu and his team will test the different cell lines to see if the gene impacts susceptibility for viruses other than porcine circovirus 2.  Vu will use his grant to utilize molecular methods in his efforts to engineer a broadly protective vaccine that could protect against multiple, if not all, variants of swine influenza virus.

Deere Earnings Beat Expectations

John Deere's quarterly sales and profit estimates beat expectations. Net income fell 41 percent to $665.8 million, or $2.11 per share in the quarter, but beat analysts’ average estimate of $1.62 per share, according to Reuters. Equipment sales declined 20 percent to $8.22 billion, topping expectation of $7.69 billion. Agriculture and turf sales decreased for the quarter due to lower shipment volumes and the unfavorable effects of currency translation. The new forecast from the company expects farm and turf equipment sales to fall between 10 percent and 15 percent this year. Net income attributable to Deere and Company is forecast to be in a range of $1.6 billion to $2 billion for the full year. However, many uncertainties remain regarding the effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic that could negatively affect the company's results and financial position in the future. A news release states, “Uncertainties related to the magnitude and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic may significantly adversely affect the company’s business and outlook.”

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Ag Policy

AUDIO: CFAP Enrollement Begins for Producers, Where and How to Apply

Tuesday the USDA began accepting applications from crop growers and livestock producers for $16 billion in aid under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Financial assistance is available to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five-percent-or-greater price decline or who had losses due to market supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 and face additional significant market costs. A complete break down of eligibility, exclusions, and more can be found at https://www.farmers.gov/cfap. More information for payments on non-specialty crops can be found at https://www.farmers.gov/cfap/non-specialty. More information for payments on livestock can be found at https://www.farmers.gov/cfap/livestock. USDA has also produced a video to assist with sign up https://youtu.be/mGXl7dr8kaQ. Applications will be accepted through August 28th. Susan Littlefield recently caught up with Administrator of the FSA, Richard Fordyce, to discuss the program at length.

Hong Kong Trade Status, U.S. Relationship with China, in Limbo

The Trump Administration sent a formal notice to Congress that it doesn’t see Hong Kong as an autonomous region from China. Politico says that puts Hong Kong’s status as a separate customs territory at risk and opens up Beijing to sanctions. The move would hurt Beijing but also lessen Hong Kong as an Asian center for business and finance. “I fully expect the U.S. to proceed with sanctions on individuals and entities deemed to be undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy,” says Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Politico says Beijing recently proposed a “national security law” that would bypass Hong Kong’s legislature and give China more authority to crack down on protests. What’s next for the U.S. is currently up to President Trump, who hinted at the possibility of sanctions on the Asian nation. China has already vowed to retaliate if the U.S. takes strong actions because of its moves against Hong Kong. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell says the possibilities include personnel sanctions, visa sanctions, economic sanctions, as well as numerous other options. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says any changes to Hong Kong’s status could have serious impacts on the more than 1,300 U.S. companies that operate in the island nation.

National FFA Launches Online Social Network for Alumni, Supporters

The National FFA Organization recently launched a social networking platform specifically for FFA alumni and supporters. The Forever Blue Network was designed to give alumni, supporters and FFA members a space to connect and share about job and internship opportunities, local events, volunteer opportunities and more. "We really want it to be an opportunity to reconnect with the over 8 million former FFA members," said National FFA Executive Director of Alumni & Supporters Josh Rusk. "The FFA community is only as strong as the members that are in it." Rusk said over 1,350 people have joined the network since it launched two weeks ago. He described the network as a hybrid between Facebook and LinkedIn, which also features a business directory for FFA members, alumni and supporters. The directory creates a virtual storefront for FFA businesses and Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAEs).  In addition, Rusk said his team launched Grad 2020 on the network to celebrate high school graduates in FFA who missed out on state conventions, competitions and banquets. Join the Forever Blue Network at foreverbluenetwork.org.

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