Ashburn VA

Partly Cloudy
20°F / 7°F
Wind: 24 NW
Average Humidity: 40
The Next Three Days

Partly Cloudy
26°F / 16°F
Wind: 9 NNW
Humidity: 39

31°F / 30°F
Wind: 9 SSE
Humidity: 87

49°F / 30°F
Wind: 12 WNW
Humidity: 86
Month High Low Last Chg
Mar '16 362'0 358'2 358'6 -1'4
May '16 366'6 363'2 363'4 -1'4
Jul '16 371'4 368'2 368'4 -1'2
Sep '16 376'2 373'2 373'4 -1'0
Dec '16 384'6 381'4 381'6 -1'0
Mar '17 393'4 391'0 391'0 -1'0
Month High Low Last Chg
Mar '16 875'4 868'4 872'6 -0'6
May '16 880'0 872'4 876'4 -1'2
Jul '16 885'0 878'0 881'6 -1'2
Aug '16 886'4 880'2 883'4 -1'2
Sep '16 886'0 880'2 883'2 -1'6
Nov '16 889'6 882'4 886'0 -1'6
Jan '17 895'0 888'2 891'2 -2'0
Month High Low Last Chg
Mar '16 449'0 442'4 444'2 0'2
May '16 458'2 452'2 453'6 0'0
Jul '16 469'0 463'0 464'4 0'2
Sep '16 481'2 478'4 478'4 0'4
Month High Low Last Chg
Feb '16 131.600 129.375 129.950 -0.175
Apr '16 130.875 128.600 129.125 -0.400
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OCA Priorities For 2016 Includes Passage Of State Question 777 And A State Beef Checkoff
The Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association (OCA)board of directors approved a set of priority policy issues that will drive the association's policy work in 2016 at their annual winter board meeting earlier this week in Oklahoma City.
Gulke to Farmers: Ignore Muddled Markets, Focus on Inputs
Between the dollar’s collapse, the crop situation in South America, and all the unknowns about this year’s planting and growing season, the market doesn’t know what to think.  
We are finally out! Are you? Post your big snow piles and show how ...
We are finally out! Are you? Post your big snow piles and show how ACE customers Get It Done!>
The Aurora Tire Center and Service Center are open if you need them, ...
The Aurora Tire Center and Service Center are open if you need them, whether it is for a tire repair or to purchase more snow shovels!>
The main office is Aurora is closed again today. If you need ...
The main office is Aurora is closed again today. If you need assistance, please reach out to the person you need via email or mobile phone. Everyone, please stay safe out there!>
The main offices in Aurora are closed for the day due to weather. ...
The main offices in Aurora are closed for the day due to weather. Please be safe out there!>
Post your Winter Storm Kayla Video, this video from Chris Vincent's ...
Post your Winter Storm Kayla Video, this video from Chris Vincent's home north of Aurora, Ne>
Come on over to and check out our new website! A ...
Come on over to and check out our new website! A group of young people from each division is working hard to bring you a website that will be your favorite spot for all things agriculture!>
Over 30 area producers were in attendance today in Geneva, NE for ...
Over 30 area producers were in attendance today in Geneva, NE for today's R2G yield meeting. Aurora Agronomy will be hosting many of these same yield focused meetings across the trade area. We encourage you to attend to learn and share what helps yield on your farms!>
Dr. Tom Osborne addressed employees, patrons, and friends of Aurora ...
Dr. Tom Osborne addressed employees, patrons, and friends of Aurora Cooperative today while he visited Aurora!>
Don't miss out on these January specials - stop into the Service ...
Don't miss out on these January specials - stop into the Service Center & Tire Center before they are gone!>
Randy Dowdy, a first generation farmer and winner of numerous ...
Randy Dowdy, a first generation farmer and winner of numerous national yield contests, came from Georgia to speak to a group of producers today about preventing yield loss. What a turnout!>
It is a full house for the Aurora Cooperative producer meeting with ...
It is a full house for the Aurora Cooperative producer meeting with Randy Dowdy as the speaker.>
Aurora Cooperative Is proud to announce that patron Brad Kroeger was ...
Aurora Cooperative Is proud to announce that patron Brad Kroeger was a winner of a new Polaris Ranger. Aurora Agronomy and Curry Seed teamed up for the Ranger promotion that all Curry customers qualified for this fall. Congratulations Brad and thanks to Curry Seed for delivering the Ranger to Brad this afternoon.>
The York Ag Expo goes until 5:00 today. If you haven't stopped by ...
The York Ag Expo goes until 5:00 today. If you haven't stopped by yet, you should!>
Stop by the Northeast Nebraska Farm & Equipment Show at the Chuck ...
Stop by the Northeast Nebraska Farm & Equipment Show at the Chuck Pohlman Ag Complex in Norfolk to visit the Aurora Cooperative booth! We will be there until 4:00 pm today!>
The Nebraska Cooperative Council Education Foundation Scholarship ...
The Nebraska Cooperative Council Education Foundation Scholarship Applications are due by April 15, 2016. Go to the link below for more information.>
Nebraska Ag Update - February 12, 2016
Nebraska Ag Updates
USDA Secretary Vilsack Announces $58.25 Million to Protect Agriculture and Plants from Pests and Diseases
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has allocated $58.25 million from Section 10007 of the 2014 Farm Bill. This money will support 434 projects that prevent the introduction or spread of plant pests and diseases that threaten U.S. agriculture and the environment and ensure the availability of a healthy supply of clean plant stock in the United States. Funding will be provided to 50 States plus Guam and Puerto Rico to implement projects suggested by universities, States, Federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, non-profits and Tribal organizations. "Through the Farm Bill we are working with our partners and stakeholders to not only ensure the global competitiveness of our specialty crop producers but to fight back against the destruction caused by invasive pests," said Vilsack. "The projects and centers funded through this effort are helping to develop and put in place the strategies, methods and treatments that safeguard our crops, plants, and natural resources from invasive threats." Since the 2014 Farm Bill was enacted, APHIS has funded more than 1,200 projects that have played a significant role in our efforts to protect American agriculture. Collectively, these projects make it possible for us to quickly detect and rapidly respond to invasive pests. They also help our country maintain the infrastructure necessary for making sure that disease-free, certified planting materials are available to U.S. specialty crop producers. This year, funded projects include: Old world bollworm (Helicoverpa Armigera): $420,725 to delimit the infestation in Puerto Rico and collect and study samples of the pest; and $470,004 for survey and response planning activities in Florida; Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer/Fusarium Dieback in avocado: $175,000 for survey, early detection, and educational outreach in California; Bark beetle: $157,793 for a Regional Identification Center for Bark Beetle and other wood boring beetles in Oregon; Giant African land snail: $2,203,080 to support ongoing eradication efforts in Florida; Spotted lanternfly: $1,666,612 million to support eradication and education efforts in Pennsylvania; Coconut rhinoceros beetle: $1,649,384 to respond to infestations in Hawaii and Guam; Honey bees: $1,068,988 to survey honey bee populations and study bee health; Invasive pest control on Tribal lands: $504,786 for six projects to support Tribal outreach and education initiatives and projects to mitigate and control invasive pests on Tribal lands; Grapes: $465,145 to enhance surveys for grape commodity pests and diseases in 15 states. National Clean Plant Network: $5 million to support 22 projects in 17 states that focus on providing high quality propagated plant material for fruit trees, grapes, hops, berries, citrus, roses and sweet potatoes free of targeted plant pathogens and pests. The Farm Bill provided $62.5 million for these programs in fiscal year 2016, though funding was reduced by sequestration. The FY 2016 Section 10007 of the 2014 Farm Bill spending plan is available on the APHIS Web site at The public can help protect America's agricultural and natural resources by being aware of invasive pests and the damage they cause. APHIS created the Hungry Pests public outreach program to empower Americans with the knowledge they need to leave these "hungry pests" behind. Visit to learn more about invasive plant pest and diseases impacting your area and how you can help. And, join the discussion about invasive plant pests via the Hungry Pests Facebook and Twitter pages. Source: USDA
Ethanol Manufacturer: Cheap Oil Will Force Industry Consolidation
The cheapest crude oil prices in 12 years could spark a wave of ethanol industry mergers in 2016, Green Plains Inc., a producer of the biofuel, said Thursday. So far this year, returns from converting a bushel of corn into the gasoline substitute have been poor as the oil rout reduces motor fuel prices, Todd Becker, chief executive officer of Green Plains, said Thursday on a conference call to discuss quarterly earnings. That could force everyone from smaller companies to major producers to consolidate. "There will be M&A activity in 2016," Becker said. "In 2016 you'll see consolidation in the industry." Crude has slid about 28 percent this year. That, combined with high corn costs, has gutted ethanol margins. Denatured ethanol for March delivery has fallen 4.9 percent in the past year to $1.375 a gallon on the Chicago Board of Trade. Meanwhile, stockpiles rose to a record 23 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 5, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and lawmakers have been debating whether or not the U.S. should continue to require the biofuel's use. Earlier this month, Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., the largest producer, said its assessing the future of some of its plants. About 40 percent of the industry's capacity is controlled by the top five producers with the remaining share held by smaller companies, including farmer-owned cooperatives, Becker said. "Industry margins have not gotten better since the first of the year," he said. "They haven't seen a year like this for a while." Green Plains fell $2.58 or 17 percent to $12.43 at 1:54 p.m. in Nasdaq composite trading, after earlier touching $12.39, the lowest since 2013. The Omaha, Nebraska-based company reported a net loss for the fourth-quarter of $3.6 million, or 9 cents a share compared with profit of $42.2 million or $1.07 a share a year earlier. Source: Agri Marketing
Harvest the Sky
Farmers who put pencil to paper in the 1970s or 1980s and decided investing in solar power on their farm wasn’t worth the effort may want to rethink that position, according to Mark Olinyk. Olinyk is a Jackson, Mich., entrepreneur and president and CEO of Harvest Energy Solutions. He owned and operated a grain warehouse facility in the 1980s and built small offset antennas in the 1990s. In the 2006, he turned to helping farmers and ranchers become more energy independent on their operation with solar power and wind power. He says he’s seen big changes in costs since that time. “In 2006, solar was twice the cost of wind power,” he says. “Today, it’s half.” Thanks to grants, solar renewable energy credits, tax credits and even equipment depreciation, the cost of solar power is about as low as it has ever been, he says. “The price has gone down 50% in the last five years,” he says. “It might be bottoming out, but it’s still worth your consideration. Olinyk highlighted other benefits of solar energy during a session at the 51st National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Ky., including: Clean, safe, quiet, affordable, renewable energy source Offsets to utility electrical costs Production warranties of up to 25 years, with reasonable lifespan of 40 years or more Reliable real-time and historical performance monitoring Olinyk says he may have had the largest indoor solar display ever at the 2016 National Farm Machinery Show. "I'll claim that until someone proves me wrong," he jokes. Harvest Energy Solutions takes would-be customers through a rigorous 150-point inspection during the proposal process. That’s because any number of farm conditions could help or hinder a particular project, such as shade, gradient, local utility requirements, the amount of wire to connect to the grid, and so on. For others, wind energy could prove the most lucrative renewable energy source. One company, United Wind, hopes to connect thousands of U.S. farmers to customized wind turbine projects that are tailor-made to their operations’ energy needs. The group’s legacy was crunching numbers on wind analysis, and once CEO Russell Tencer saw that banks were comfortable lending against those analyses, the idea was born to place turbines on farms. Now, United Wind has $200 million in backing to make that idea a reality. “We see wind as a resource that has value, and there’s value in harvesting it, just as you would harvest any other crops on your property,” he says. Tencer says there’s a difference between United Wind’s efforts, which he describes as “distributed wind,” and the large-scale utility wind endeavors. Farmers who participate aren’t selling energy to a utility company; rather, they’re paying United Wind a lower cost than they would for their current utility provider for generating wind energy on their property. Tencer says savings could add up to $200,000 or more for the lifespan of the 20-year lease – with no initial or downstream costs. “Once it’s up and spinning, we manage it remotely and maintain it when needed,” Tencer says. At the end of the 20-year lease, Tencer says farmers can renew the lease, pay outright for the current market value, or have the turbine removed. All told, United Wind hopes to build 1,000 new projects during the next 2 to 3 years and reach out to as many as 10,000 farmers over the next two decades. Source: Ben Potter,
USDA Sees Strong Demand for Conservation Reserve Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reminding farmers and ranchers that the competitive sign-up deadline for its most popular voluntary conservation program, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), is Feb. 26, 2016. This will be one of the most competitive general sign-up periods in history, in part due a statutory limit on the number of acres that can be enrolled in the program. The most competitive applications will be those that combine multiple conservation benefits, such as water quality and wildlife habitat. For the past thirty years, CRP has provided financial incentives to farmers and ranchers to remove environmentally sensitive agricultural land from production to be planted with certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and increase wildlife habitat. Since 1985, CRP has sequestered an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking 9 million cars off the road; prevented 9 billion tons of soil from erosion, enough to fill 600 million dump trucks; and reduced nitrogen and phosphorous runoff by 95 and 85 percent, respectively. CRP also protects more than 170,000 stream miles with forests and grasses, enough to go around the world seven times. The program has allowed for the restoration of 2.7 million acres of wetland. "Since the start of this Administration, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make conservation improvements, working with as many as 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect land and water on over 400 million acres nationwide," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The Conservation Reserve Program has been and continues to be a key piece of USDA's conservation strategy, and with this competitive sign-up we are encouraging applications that offer the greatest environmental protection." As of January 2016, 23.6 million acres were enrolled in CRP, with contracts for more than 1.6 million acres set to expire this fall. The statutory cap on acres that can be enrolled is 24 million acres. Submissions will be ranked according to environmental benefits in comparison to all other offers nationwide. USDA will announce accepted offers after the enrollment period ends and offers are reviewed. For an interactive tour of CRP success stories from across the U.S., visit, or follow on Twitter at #CRPis30. In 2015, a record number of continuous CRP acres were enrolled, totaling over 830,000 acres. These high-value acres provide multiple benefits on the same land including water quality, wildlife, carbon sequestration and others. For example, the acres dedicated to pollinators have almost tripled to over 190,000 acres and support the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. This record sign-up came after a May 2015 announcement that an additional 800,000 acres would be accepted for key natural resource enhancements. Since the May 2015 announcement, wetland restorations have increased by 77,000 acres, duck nesting habitats have increased 35,000 acres and other wildlife habitat has increased 255,000 acres within the CRP State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE). Surveys have demonstrated significant increases in populations of upland grassland birds; the 227,000 acres dedicated to upland bird habitat buffers are estimated to increase bobwhite quail numbers by 350,000 each fall. For more information on Farm Service Agency (FSA) conservation programs, visit a local FSA office or To find your local FSA office, visit Source: USDA
Farm Economy Tightens Further
Farmland values in the Tenth District dipped again in the fourth quarter. According to respondents of the Tenth District Survey of Agricultural Credit Conditions, values of nonirrigated and irrigated cropland decreased 4 percent and 2 percent, respectively, from a year ago (Chart 1). With the fourth quarter declines, irrigated cropland values have fallen modestly in four consecutive quarters, and the value of nonirrigated cropland generally followed the same trend through 2015. Growth in the value of ranchland also stalled in the fourth quarter alongside sharp declines in cattle prices that persisted to the end of the year. From January 2015 through December, feeder cattle prices plunged more than 25 percent, causing profit margins in the cattle sector to deteriorate significantly. Alongside these price declines, year-over-year growth in the value of ranchland dropped from an average of 8 percent in the first three quarters of 2015 to zero in the fourth quarter. In contrast to most other District states, farmland values in Oklahoma continued to rise modestly. Oklahoma was also the only state where bankers reported increases in average cropland values when compared with the previous year. Ranchland values also continued to rise modestly in Oklahoma, in addition to the Mountain States (Table). Changes in farmland values in most other states, however, generally were consistent with average changes for the Tenth District as a whole. Survey respondents expected farmland values to fall further in the coming months. In fact, bankers expected the value of each land type – nonirrigated cropland, irrigated cropland and ranchland – to decline again in the first quarter of 2016 (Chart 2). However, between the three land types, more bankers expected further losses in the value of nonirrigated cropland. Moreover, bankers expected slightly larger adjustments in nonirrigated cropland values in the coming year than what was expected at the same time a year ago (Chart 3). The volume of farmland sales also dropped in 2015. Historically, changes in the volume of farmland sold and farmland values have moved together (Chart 4). Landowners may be less inclined to sell when prices have recently fallen, in hopes that prices might rebound in the future. A more limited supply of farmland available for purchase, then, may partly explain why farmland values have retracted only modestly, as demand has remained relatively strong in the meantime. Farm Income Reduced farm income likely has contributed to expectations of further declines in both farmland values and cash rents. In the fourth quarter, 87 percent of survey respondents reported farm income was lower than a year ago (Chart 7). Reports of waning farm income also were consistent across District states. In fact, for the first time since 2002, bankers in all District states reported that farm income in the fourth quarter was lower than a year ago (Chart 8). Persistently low prices for agricultural commodities remained a primary driver of diminished farm income across District states. In addition to sharp declines in cattle prices, most crop prices also fell from year-ago levels. For instance, national average prices for soybeans and wheat dropped 14 percent and 19 percent, respectively, while corn prices also declined slightly. Moreover, corn prices were nearly 40 percent lower, on average, in 2015 than two years earlier. Sustained weakness in corn, soybean and wheat prices has had a particularly negative effect on farm income because these three crops account for about 70 percent of harvested crop acreage in Tenth District states, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Bankers expected farm income to remain subdued in the coming months. For the second quarter in a row, bankers in all District states indicated they expect a further decline in farm income in the coming quarter (Chart 9). These expectations of lower farm income continued the trend of reduced incomes in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, but marked a significant downturn in expectations for future farm income in Oklahoma and the Mountain States. Farm Sector Credit Conditions Farm credit conditions in the Tenth District also deteriorated somewhat alongside lower farm income. Farm loan repayment rates slipped further in the fourth quarter while farm loan demand remained high (Chart 10). Moreover, both loan demand and repayment rates moved in similar directions in all District states (Chart 11). Through the fourth quarter, softening repayments rates and strong loan demand appeared to be a reflection of persistently weaker farm income and reduced cash flow. Yet, commercial banks generally continued to report low delinquency rates on agricultural loans, as shown in the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s first quarter Agricultural Finance Databook. Softening farm income and consistently strong loan demand appeared to also reduce credit availability for some borrowers in the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter marked the 11th consecutive quarter of increased loan demand and the second straight quarter of diminished availability of funds for agricultural loans (Chart 12). In addition to strong demand for farm loans, the recent surge in loan renewals and extensions and weaker repayment rates likely has reduced principal payments, thereby restricting the availability of funds for new loans. Bankers also indicated they expect credit availability to tighten somewhat in the first quarter of 2016, which would mark the longest period of reduced availability of funds at agricultural banks in the District since 2000. Conclusion The effects of weakening farm income continued to ripple through the farm economy in the fourth quarter. Reduced income pushed cropland values lower and developments in cattle markets halted growth in ranchland values. In addition, lower farm income trimmed cash rents somewhat and was expected to continue to pressure agricultural credit conditions in the coming months. View all charts and tables here. Disclaimer The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City or the Federal Reserve System. Source: Kansas City Federal Reserve
California's Prop 65 Listing of Glyphosate a Warning to Farmers
Monsanto says California’s Prop 65 needs to get its facts straight in a recent complaint filed against the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. The state recently listed glyphosate (Roundup) as a known carcinogen to its Proposition 65 list based on a controversial report from the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015. For background, Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, is a California voter initiative that requires the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm and must be updated a minimum at least annually. Since 1978, the list has grown to about 800 chemicals. Glyphosate was recently added to the list based on the 2015 finding by WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). That agency labeled glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” based on reviews of selected past studies, not new research conducted by WHO. Monsanto and others disagreed with IARC's report and stressed that glyphosate has been approved as safe by the European Union and regulatory agencies in the U.S. What does the addition of glyphosate to California's Prop 65 list mean for growers? If you live and farm in California, this could be bad news. “Farmers might be pressured away from using glyphosate and have to switch to a less effective or more expensive option,” says Renee Pinel, president and CEO of the Western Plant Health Association, a group that represents crop protection, fertilizer, seed and retailer groups in legislative and regulatory issues. “The biggest risk is if glyphosate is found at any detectable level in waterways the farmer could be sued and would have to prove it wasn’t them or settle.” More than 250 different cropping systems in California use glyphosate so many farmers could find themselves at risk of a lawsuit--anyone can sue for “perceived health risk.” “Prop 65 is written in very broad language. It prohibits discharge into drinking water, which is pretty much any surface water,” Pinel says. “Plaintiffs don’t have to prove guilt the farmer has to prove innocence.” She thinks Monsanto and growers might have a tough road ahead of them if the listing sticks. “The major concern is this listing is not based on a scientific review by California,” Pinel says. “We think this is inappropriate.” If you don’t live in California, consider this a warning. “If you see a bill that looks like it’s based on Prop 65, stop it,” says Pinel, who warns that a law based on the best of intentions has broadened its reach and left farmers to pay the price. Source: Sonja Begemann, Farm Journal
How Dogs Can Help You Tackle Weeds
Tucked into his home office, Jim Peters sits with one dog at his feet and two others close by. What started as a simple love for dogs turned into an opportunity to make a career working with them. One year ago, the Iowa native partnered with a friend to train dogs to find whatever their handlers might be seeking: missing people, dead bodies, specific types of amphibians, and even weeds. German shepherd Rocky is on search-and-rescue and cadaver duty while the red heeler mix Jojo and border collie-blue heeler mix Charlie are on conservation duty, finding endangered turtles and invasive weed species. “We look for dogs from a working breed category,” he says. “We need them to be familiar with working with people and to be trainable.” His dogs aren't the high-dollar purebreds you might expect. Instead, they're typically mixed breeds that he's adopted after seeing how they performed on simple tests assessing their trainability. Charlie, for example, was one of a full litter of puppies. Peters brought toys for the dogs to see which one was the most curious and responded the best to challenges. He let the dogs see the toy and hid it in various spots near the dogs to see which one had the best searching instincts. Charlie stood out from his littermates when he found the ball in a closed trash can. In the initial training stages, he uses toys to get dogs started using their noses. He simply tosses the toy into tall grass and other tricky spots to get the dogs to sniff out their location. From there, he works up, eventually training them on specific scents such as endangered turtles, weeds or missing people. “Now I’ve got a county conservation group lined up to find weeds,” he says. “Dogs can find the much smaller weeds before they pollinate and spread.” In some cases, the dogs can even detect weeds prior to emergence. They’re starting in Iowa with lespedeza weeds and training with more as counties request it. Peters plans to focus on two or three different weed types this year and might add more in 2017. Currently, the dogs are finding weeds for conservation purposes, but he can see a place for it in production agriculture. “In pastures especially, I think they’ll be great at finding weeds,” he says. Peters notes that dogs are capable of more than many people realize, from detecting explosives, drugs, and organic materials at airports and to sensing signs of seizures or cancer in humans. “We don’t talk about what are the limitations," the dog trainer says. "We talk about the opportunities.” Source: Sonja Begemann, Farm Journal
Rabobank Report Examines Water Situation
The world must increase its usable water supply and effectively manage water demand. These are the key findings in a new report from Rabobank. The report "Agricultural Water - Free Flowing Markets Sustain Growth" focuses significant attention on water markets as a tool that has been proven to be effective at delivering water where it's most valued. According to the research, markets are an important part of ensuring that the proper allocation of water can occur, and helping ensure that the agricultural industry has access to enough water to be economically viable and can feed a growing world population. "We encourage food and agri suppliers and other leaders to be directly involved in the establishment of water markets to protect the long-run economic sustainability of the agriculture industry," says Vernon Crowder, analyst at Rabobank. "Globally, local governance and investment will be required in order to ensure stable water supplies but also to replenish current deficits caused by years of overuse in many countries. Water markets will increase the overall net benefit to society, increase the incentive for expanded investment, while decreasing risk for the agriculture sector as a whole." The report goes on to examine the situation in some of the major agricultural regions of the globe. In North America the report focuses on California, the Colorado River Basin and the Ogallala Aquifer with the following: California - As represented by tree rings, the last four years in California have marked the worst drought seen in the last millennium. This has forced Californians to create policies which will help manage and replenish basins in the future. In the meantime, water marketing has enabled most California ag producers to reduce the economic impacts of severe drought conditions, but improvements to its water trading system are needed to deal with ongoing increases in demand and tighter supplies. Colorado River Basin - More than 80 percent of the water delivered from the Colorado River Basin is used for agricultural purposes. Increasing demand from agriculture, municipal and industrial users severely threatens the sustainability of the basin. The US Bureau of Reclamation predicts that a 20 percent decrease in runoff could lead to a 60 percent or 70 percent decrease in storage, along with a 15 percent increase in salinity. Ogallala Aquifer - The Ogallala Aquifer is a name for thousands of smaller aquifers that stretch from South Dakota into Texas, reaching into Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. In a 2013 study published by Kansas State University, it was estimated that, between 1960 and 2010, nearly 30 percent of the total volume of the Ogallala Aquifer had been depleted. If the use of water continues at a similar rate, the projection is that, by 2060, nearly 70 percent of the aquifer's total available water will be tapped. The report concludes by encouraging food and agri suppliers and other leaders to be directly involved in the establishment of water markets to protect the long-run economic sustainability of the agriculture industry. Globally, local governance and investment will be required in order to ensure stable water supplies but also to replenish current deficits caused by years of overuse in many countries. The research proposes that water markets will increase the overall net benefit to society, increase the incentive for expanded investment, while decreasing risk for the ag sector as a whole. Source: Ag Professional
U.S. Farm Income Will Drop for Third Year in Commodity Slump
The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast that farmers will face a drop in profit for the third straight year as persistent surpluses depress crop and livestock prices. Farm net income will be $54.8 billion in 2016, the USDA said Tuesday in a report on its website, 2.8 percent less than the $56.4 billion estimated for 2015. The hard times follow an era of record profit that peaked at $123.3 billion in 2013, when rising global demand combined with a domestic drought that crimped supplies of corn and cattle, while a virus devastated hog herds. Direct government farm-program payments are forecast to rise 31 percent to $13.9 billion in 2016 with the 2014 Farm Bill’s price-loss and risk coverage accounting for almost two-thirds of the total. U.S. farm expenses will fall 1 percent to $376.5 billion this year, the first consecutive annual decline since 1986. ‘The drop in expenses is expected to alleviate, but not completely offset, the drop in cash receipts, and ultimately lead to tighter margins,” the USDA said in a report. Surplus Cycle The 2013 boom spurred farmers to boost crop and livestock production, triggering a cycle for surpluses in major agricultural commodities at the same time, David Anderson, a livestock economist at Texas A&M University in College Station, said in a telephone interview. Farmland values have dropped from all-time highs. The U.S. farm debt-to-equity ratio will rise for a fourth straight year, indicating “a higher level of financial stress is building” relative to recent years, the USDA said. This measure “remains low relative to historical levels,” indicating the industry is “insulated from solvency risk associated with declining commodity prices” and swings in farm-asset values, the agency said. Some farmers will work through supply gluts faster than others, with chicken and dairy cattle possibly seeing some price improvement later in the year, Anderson of Texas A&M said. For crops, only a major improvement in trade, or a weather disaster, will soak up supplies in the near term, said Patrick Westhoff, an agricultural economist at the University of Missouri in Columbia. “For years, we saw rising ethanol demand and Chinese growth as sources for profit,” he said in a telephone interview. “Ethanol growth is behind us, and China is cloudy. It’s hard to see much that will significantly increase profit going forward.” Source:
4 Questions That Will Shape Farm Decisions in 2016
The questions you ask are sometimes more important than the answers they bring. That’s because even though hindsight is 20/20, those revelations sometimes come too late to bring about effective change. “If we could predict future prices, [for example], we would simply wait until the market price is at its highest level, then market an entire year’s worth of production,” according to John Berry, ag marketing educator with Penn State University. “Imagine how fun that would be. Since this ability is not possible, grain marketers are stuck with doing the best they can with what they have.” In particular, farmers need to know their true cost of production to implement truly effective marketing strategies, Berry says. The challenge is, farmers often tell him they don’t know cost of production until harvest is over. “I agree with this,” he says. “However, my point is we can make a fairly accurate guess of next year’s cost of production by using last year’s costs and yield well before the crop is even planted. We do not have to wait until after harvest to know the cost of operating our grain business to decide on a market price we like.” So back to asking questions. Berry says farmers who ask – and answer – these four questions in particular will help them do the best they can with what they have. What does it cost for your farm to operate? What do you expect prices to be? What is your current guess of total 2016 farm revenues? What is your farm management team’s plan for managing your business in the months ahead? Any time you can sell bushels for above your cost of production, you are in effect locking in “a modicum of profit,” however big or small, Berry adds. In that regard, trying to project future prices isn’t pure folly, he says. “Remember, nobody can predict the future with any certainty, but it can offer some insight that might be reflected in our price expectations when we try,” Berry says. Source: Ben Potter,
What?s In Store For Nitrogen In 2016?
Supply is the overriding theme for the North American 2016 nitrogen outlook. In the last 12 months, global factors have created a supply-driven market. In the next 12 months, new nitrogen capacity starting up, along with those same global factors, will build on that story. At the same time, demand in North America, while not the dominant theme ahead, will be positive for the year. The Dynamics Of 2015 North American nitrogen during 2015 was defined by declining nitrogen prices globally while corn and the futures market traded sideways, incentivizing farmers not to sell grain. North America entered the year with excess ammonia inventory due to a carryover from the poor fall 2014 application season and customer reluctance to take on inventory due to perceived price risk. Spring 2015 proved to be exceptionally strong for ammonia application in North America. The weather patterns that evolved in March and lasted through May were highly conducive to ammonia application throughout the Midwest and Canada. The extended season allowed us to have a record spring at some of our distribution terminals, though overall ammonia shipments were lower than the record we had shipped during the first six months of 2014. North American growers are expected to produce a corn harvest of about 13.7 billion bushels during 2015, which would be the third largest production on record. With a continued trend of positive economic return on the incremental crop yield, growers applied nitrogen fertilizer in order to maximize their revenue per acre. Nitrogen fertilizer trade volumes continue at historically high levels. CF Industries estimates that Chinese urea exports will total more than 12 million tons in 2015, down from the record level of a year ago, but still overwhelming the global market. High UAN volumes were also seen in 2015, particularly high exports from Russia. Global Factors Affecting a Global Commodity For a significant part of 2015, prices for nitrogen in North America declined. The factors were clear: Global production and delivery costs declined while nitrogen capacity expanded in low cost regions. The energy market played a key role. Lower energy prices for natural gas and coal have reduced input costs for most nitrogen producers. On top of that, lower demand for coal and other raw materials in China have weighed on dry bulk freight rates. Combined with lower fuel costs, freight rates have continued to decline, making offshore producers more competitive in North America. Devalued currencies have also played a key role in where global supply moves. The weak Ruble continues to give the incentive to Russian producers to export high volumes as Russian natural gas costs are priced in Rubles and very low in dollar terms. Another supply side impact was the announcement by the Chinese government to weaken its currency. This devaluation offset the impact of a new VAT tax on fertilizers and helped to keep Chinese exporters competitive in the international market. On the demand side, the devalued Brazilian Real contributed to an unstable operating environment for Brazilian fertilizer importers driving a few to bankruptcy as well as lower urea imports. New capacity continues to come on-stream in higher quantities than usual, in China as well as the Middle East/North Africa, Russia, and Southeast Asia, from this year through 2017. North American Nitrogen Supply Coming Online New capacity is not coming online just in other parts of the world. In December, CF Industries announced that it had started up the new urea plant at the company’s Donaldsonville Nitrogen Complex, with UAN and ammonia to follow. This is the first new plant to start-up as part of our capacity expansion projects at Donaldsonville and our Port Neal Nitrogen Complex in Iowa. It is also the first world-scale urea plant to be completed in North America since 1998. It won’t be the last. CF Industries projects more than five million tons of gross ammonia to come online in North America in the coming years. More than 40% of that total will be at CF Industries’ Donaldsonville and Port Neal sites. Despite this new capacity, North America will still depend on imports to meet nearly 30% of its nitrogen needs. The 2016 Nitrogen Demand Outlook The global factors helping increase the supply of nitrogen in North America will also help increase demand in 2016, though not enough to move away from the supply-driven market we are in today. The current returns for the 2016 crop, based on new crop futures, favors nitrogen-intensive corn plantings. Weaker soybean prices due to increasing global supplies and devaluation of the Chinese yuan, along with lower fertilizer prices, has the market signaling an increase in corn acres. As a result, CF Industries now expects 2016 corn planting to be 90.5 million acres, which is 2.1 million acres higher than last year. Along with other crops, this level of corn planted acres should lead to total North American nitrogen demand of 15.7 million nutrient tons for fertilizer year 2016, with 13 million nutrient tons in the U.S. alone. Considering the very weak fall application season the last two years, the product mix is expected to shift in 2016 and favor more direct application ammonia consumption. As a percent of corn revenue, 2015 U.S. fertilizer costs are projected at 23%, slightly above the 10-year average of 21%. Looking Forward Will anything move North American nitrogen away from the supply-driven environment we find today? There are a number of factors that could: Production curtailments and limited natural gas availability; supply interruptions stemming from political unrest; shuttering or mothballing high-cost, marginal plants. Also, the delay in purchasing and positioning of plant nutrients could result in price distortions if demand exceeds supply in the short term. We saw all those factors affect prices in 2015 at one point or another. In the near term, though, the supply-driven outlook for nitrogen appears firm. Source: Bert Frost, CropLife
Stalk Nitrate-nitrogen as Affected by Nitrogen Rate, Row Spacing and Population Density
There is considerable interest in maximizing corn yields by combining new hybrids with improved production practices. In 2015, Michigan State University Extension and DEKALB/Asgrow brands of Monsanto Company tested two modern semi flex-ear-type hybrids, DKC50-84RIB and DKC49-72RIB, at two-row spacings of 20 inches and 30 inches, three populations of 30,000, 36,000 and 42,000 per acre, and two nitrogen application rates of 120 and 240 pounds nitrogen per acre. The experiment was located in Mason, Michigan, and treatments were replicated three times. The overall objective was to find how these hybrids will interact with non-limiting plant populations and nitrogen rates to produce the highest grain yield per acre. The 20-inch row spacing was included to provide a more desirable geometric spacing for plants at high populations. This means higher within-row distances between plants for a given population rate compared to 30-inch rows. The trial was planted under ideal weather conditions on April 27, 2015. All plots received 25 pounds of nitrogen per acre at planting. The balance of nitrogen was sidedressed as liquid nitrogen (28 percent) injected on June 2. Based on MSU nitrogen fertilizer recommendations, the high nitrogen rate (240 pounds per acre) is considered an adequately fertilized treatment. In 2015, the site received excess rainfall in June (7 inches) and early July, raising concerns about potential nitrogen losses and shortages. Some of the heaviest rainfall was received few days after the nitrogen sidedress application. This field was temporarily flooded several times. Corn at the V7-V8 stage looked normal, but we started to notice early firing starting in September. The end of season cornstalk nitrate test is a diagnostic tool that can assess nitrogen fertilizer practices and adequacy to corn throughout the season. We analyzed stalk samples from all plots at the MSU Soil and Plant Nutrient Laboratory. The stalk nitrate-nitrogen as affected by the nitrogen rate in the second hybrid, DKC49-72, is discussed in this article. The overall stalk nitrate-nitrogen average for all plots receiving 120 pounds of nitrogen per acre was 47 ppm. The overall average for the plots receiving the 240 pounds of nitrogen per acre was 187 ppm. Both low and high nitrogen rates produced stalk nitrate-nitrogen levels considerably below the optimum lower level of 700 ppm. This data is in sharp contrast to the first hybrid DKC50-84 (see Part 1). The data supports our speculation that heavy rainfall received in June/July after the nitrogen sidedress application may have contributed to substantial nitrogen losses due to denitrification and leaching, creating severe nitrogen shortages in the field. Based on climate and rainfall patterns we have observed in the past few years, corn farmers will benefit by having rescue nitrogen application options when necessary, and be able to stretch the sidedress nitrogen application window based on current season weather, soil type, nitrogen source and fertilizer application equipment availability. Sticking to a predetermined nitrogen fertilizer rate has proved to be too risky in the past two years. For data on the first hybrid, DKC50-84, see “Stalk nitrate-nitrogen as affected by nitrogen rate, row spacing and population density – Part 1.” Source: Michigan State University 
Building Soil Organic Matter on Upper Peninsula Crop Rotations
All of the buzz about soil health – benefits for crop production, how to improve it, how to measure it – has left some Michigan farmers wondering where they fit into the discussion. Two main practices stand out front and center in the soil health discussion: no-till or reduced tillage planting systems, and inclusion of cover crops into rotations. Many of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula farmers are somewhat skeptical about the practical application of these techniques in their cropping systems because of short growing seasons and the widespread conviction that no-till “doesn’t work up here.” To simplify the issue, a focus on soil organic matter content may be helpful. In February 2015, 57 Upper Peninsula farmers and agriculture industry people attended Michigan State University Extension cover crop educational meetings held in four Upper Peninsula locations: Rudyard, Chatham, Hancock and Escanaba, Michigan. Many of these farmers were primarily livestock producers with main crops of hay, pastures and occasional small grains. Feedback from attendees indicated farmers are interested in improving their soils, but feel that currently promoted practices focus on annual crop rotations and don’t apply to their systems. After all, when your rotation includes perhaps nine years of perennial forage and one year with a small grain including a new hay seeding, you are cover cropping as much as you could possibly be, right? And won’t that long-lasting perennial hay or pasture result in a maximum of soil organic matter accumulation? Don’t we have some information about the results of no-till practices under Upper Peninsula conditions? Well, yes we do, but not from a controlled research project. Soil organic matter tests have been collected occasionally at the MSU Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center. This was not done as part of a research project, but rather in the course of normal feed production for the Center’s cattle. The following MSU soil test report information is interesting. Keep in mind this is not a research project, just typical farm information: No-till management started in 1991. Typical rotation included corn, small grain, alfalfa. Soil organic matter levels were not measured until 1998. Average organic matter of 19 fields in no-till rotation tested in 1998 was 3.3 percent. Average organic matter of 16 fields in no-till rotation tested in 2013 was 3.6 percent. Average organic matter of 12 fields in permanent hay (no rotation) since 1991 tested in 2013 was 4.1 percent. It is logical to assume that the 4.1 percent organic matter may serve as a goal for those other fields that were under a conventional tillage system through 1991 and under no-till through 2013. The soil organic matter averages suggest a trend of soil organic matter build-up amounting to 0.3 percent increase over 15 years (0.02 percent per year) between 1998 and 2013 – slow but steady. Using this data, the goal of 4.1 percent organic matter might be reached in another 25 years or so. This would be about 47 years after the implementation of no-till planting practices in 1991. Certainly not a scientific analysis, but puts the process into perspective for this type of cropping system. Part 2 of this series focuses on cover crop opportunities to build soil organic matter on Upper Peninsula farms. Source: Michigan State University 
Wheat Down After USDA Forecasts Biggest Stocks in History
Chicago wheat futures fell again on Wednesday, remaining near their lowest level since 2010 hit on Tuesday after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said the largest world wheat inventories in history are being piled up. Corn was again weak after dropping in the previous session after the USDA forecast hefty U.S. supplies. Soybeans were firm on bargain buying. "Wheat, corn and soybeans are still burdened by the forecasts of large global supplies made by the USDA monthly report on Tuesday," said Frank Rijkers, agrifood economist at ABN AMRO Bank. "But markets have been moving in and out of positive territory today because of the impact of re-positioning after the USDA report and bargain-hunting following yesterday's price falls." The Chicago Board of Trade most-active wheat contract fell 0.1 percent to $4.56-3/4 a bushel by 1049 GMT after dropping to $4.55 a bushel on Tuesday, the lowest since 2010. Most active soybeans rose a 0.09 percent to $8.64 a bushel. Corn was down 0.2 percent at $3.60 a bushel, having ended down 0.3 percent in the previous session when prices hit a low of $3.59-1/4, the weakest since Jan. 15. The USDA on Tuesday raised its forecast of 2015/16 world wheat season ending stocks to 238.87 million tonnes, above trade estimates. The figure would be the largest in history if realized. "There is a global picture of large wheat supplies facing little demand," Rijkers said. "But some attention in the wheat market is now turning towards the northern hemisphere sowing season soon to gather speed in coming weeks." The USDA also raised its estimate of U.S. corn season ending stocks to 1.837 billion bushels, the most in a decade and above the average analyst estimate of 1.809 billion. The USDA increased its forecast of U.S. 2015/16 soybean ending stocks to 450 million bushels, up from 440 million in January. The figure was above an average of trade estimates for 445 million. "Corn is being weakened by the outlook for good harvests, with crop recent weather positive in South America," Rijkers said. "There is also some concern that the U.S. weekly figures on ethanol production due later today could show a dip in production." "Soybeans are facing headwinds from the prospects of large global supplies, but are not much changed from yesterday, with some bargain-buying supporting." Source: Ag Professional 
OCA Priorities For 2016 Includes Passage Of State Question 777 And A State Beef Checkoff
The Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association (OCA)board of directors approved a set of priority policy issues that will drive the association's policy work in 2016 at their annual winter board meeting earlier this week in Oklahoma City.
Certified Angus Beef Continues To Grow, Bringing Profitability Back To Cattlemen
The Certified Angus Beef (CAB) program is all about bringing economic value back to Angus cattle producers.
Producers Attending Biosecurity and Food Safety Workshops
Cattlemen are learning more about Biosecurity and Food Safety as part of Canada?s on farm food safety program known as Verified Beef Production .
El Nino helps alleviate U.S. drought
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report shows the percentage of the country in drought is down to 15 percent. USDA chief meteorologist Brad Rippey says stormy weather in many parts of the country?in part driven by a strong El Nino?has significantly reduced drought coverage since last fall. ?Since we reached a late summer-early autumn peak of about 35 percent of the country in drought?that being back in mid-October?we?ve seen a drop of almost 20 percentage points in that drought coverage,? Rippey says. Rippey says that represents the smallest areal coverage of U.S. drought in more than five years.? He says most of the remaining drought is in the far West. ?If you look at the eleven western states, we still see more than one-third covered by drought?but that is down from 57 percent in early October, which is the beginning of the western water year,? he says. Ninety-five percent of California remains in drought.? However, the percentage of the state in the exceptional and extreme drought categories has declined from 71 to 61 percent since last fall. The post El Nino helps alleviate U.S. drought appeared first on      
Missouri group sues state over beef checkoff process
The Missouri Rural Crisis Center is suing the Missouri Department of Agriculture over the current referendum process for a proposed $1 per head state Beef checkoff. Rhonda Perry is the Center?s program director who says there are numerous problems with the process. She says the process disenfranchises some voters and discourages producers from registering and voting. Plus she says the department has refused to hold public rulemaking for determining how to conduct the election, ?We were forced to file a lawsuit requesting that they start this process over and that they abide by the law when they do so.? The Crisis Center is opposed to a state beef checkoff in Missouri. Perry tells Brownfield there is a lack of trust among many producers about how the money will be spent. And, she says the timing is wrong, ?Particularly at this time when we?re facing a significant drop in cattle prices with no real change predicted in the coming months. None of us believe this is the time to add another tax to beef producers.? The lawsuit, filed in Cole County Circuit Court in Jefferson City, is seeking an injunction to stop the state beef checkoff referendum process. Producers vote on the proposal in April. The Missouri Agriculture Department says it cannot comment on pending litigation. ? ? The post Missouri group sues state over beef checkoff process appeared first on      
McCarthy says EPA has no intention of withdrawing WOTUS
EPA Chief Administrator Gina McCarthy testified Thursday that the EPA has no intention of withdrawing its proposed Clean Water Rule also known as the Waters of the US (WOTUS). McCarthy testified at a House Agriculture Committee hearing Thursday where she also said the EPA has ?a collaborative spirit? with federal agencies associated with farming. ?EPA is working every day with the USDA and the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) to see how we can advance their mission as a way to advance our own,? McCarthy told committee members during questioning. McCarthy tried to reassure committee members about the increased jurisdiction in the controversial water rule. She said it?s a necessary part of the rule to explain which waters are covered and which are not. ?So is there is not significant amount of time wasted asking in areas where there is no jurisdiction or where we well know that from our history there is a direct hydrologic connection that is significant enough to warrant protection,? said McCarthy.? ?But in terms of the agriculture community, there is no added permit burden.? Minnesota Democrat Tim Walz said that the EPA has used what he calls ?regulatory humility.? But, Pennsylvania Republican Glenn Thompson disagreed. ?I haven?t seen a lot of regulatory humility,? said Thompson.? ?At least since I?ve been here it?s more like regulatory arrogance.? There is nearly unanimous opposition in agriculture to the water rule which many say is a regulatory overreach. The rule remains on temporary hold under a federal court ruling. AUDIO: House Agriculture Committee hearing w/Gina McCarthy (2 hrs. 53 min. MP3) The post McCarthy says EPA has no intention of withdrawing WOTUS appeared first on      
St. Louis Fed reports slide in farm income
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reports a continued slide in farm income across areas of the Midwest and Mid South. In its Ag Finance report, the average value of ranchland, pastureland and quality farmland also declined in the fourth quarter of 2015. The survey was done in the last two weeks of December of 33 ag banks in the St. Louis district. A Kentucky lender said even though crop and cattle prices are down ?input costs are rising at a slower pace.? More than 75% of the lenders surveyed say they expect a slightly positive return on farmland for landowners of up to five-percent this year. More than half the farmland sold was bought by farmers in 2015. The St. Louis Fed district covers Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee. ? ? ? The post St. Louis Fed reports slide in farm income appeared first on      
Closing Grain and Livestock Futures: February 12, 2016
Mar. corn closed at $3.58 and 3/4,?down 1 and 1/2 cents Mar. soybeans closed at $8.72 and 3/4,?down?3/4?cent Mar. soybean meal closed at $262.00,?down?$1.70 Mar. soybean oil closed at 31.80,?up?21?points Mar. wheat closed at $4.57 and 1/2,?down 3/4?cent Feb. live cattle closed at $129.95,?down?17 cents Feb. lean hogs closed at $65.95,?up?42 cents Mar. crude oil closed at $29.44,?up?$3.23 Mar. cotton closed at 58.90,?up 48?points Mar. rice closed at $10.76 and 1/2,?down 25?cents Feb. Class III milk closed at $13.87,?down 1?cent Apr. gold closed at $1,239.40,?down $8.40 Dow Jones Industrial Average: 15,973.84,?up 313.66?points The post Closing Grain and Livestock Futures: February 12, 2016 appeared first on      
Proposed boost to Michigan Department of Ag budget
The Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture says Governor Rick Snyder?s proposed budget recommendations include a $5 million increase for agriculture. Jamie Clover Adams tells Brownfield the Governor has recommended almost $1.2 million to be earmarked for technical education and outreach on the Food Safety Modernization Act.? ?We will be working with MSU Extension, conservation districts, and fruit and vegetable farmers on how they can start to bring their farms up and into compliance.? She says the Governor has also proposed enhancing the Farmland Preservation Program.? ?This will help us, along with efficiencies that we?ve found in the program, get back on track and provide the service that farmers expect.? Clover Adams tells Brownfield $2 million will be set aside for the Rural Development Fund to support rural infrastructure. The proposed budget for the department will be $91.6 million in fiscal year 2017, if approved by the Michigan legislature. AUDIO: Interview with Director Jamie Clover Adams The post Proposed boost to Michigan Department of Ag budget appeared first on      
Michigan specialty crop grants available
The Michigan Department of Agriculture has almost $2 million available for specialty crop block grants. The department says grants are available to enhance the competitiveness of Michigan?s specialty crop industries. Funds up to $100,000 will be awarded to projects that help provide additional access to specialty crops, improve quality and availability, and ensure the industry remains competitive. Proposals must be submitted to the department by March 31st. The post Michigan specialty crop grants available appeared first on      
Ohio Farmers Union outline policy priorities
The president of the Ohio Farmers Union (OFU) says proposed farmland tax reform is one of the top policy priorities for the group this year. Joe Logan tells Brownfield they support bills in the Ohio House and Senate that would update the Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV) formula. ?Our members across the state have received tax increases in the two, three, four hundred percent range over the last several years,? said Logan. ?That is just something we cannot tolerate in an era when commodity prices have absolutely collapsed.? The Ohio Farmers Union is also calling on the Kasich Administration to change state regulations on disposal of fracking waste. OFU policy recommends any new fracking waste disposal wells be built and regulated under the more stringent Class-One standards. Ohio Farmers Union 2016 policy priorities The post Ohio Farmers Union outline policy priorities appeared first on      
USDA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Join Forces to Promote Agriculture Jobs and Farming and Ranching to Military Veterans
WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2016 ? The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced a joint agreement with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to increase employment opportunities in the agricultural sector for military veterans and their spouses.
Egg production practices in Canada about to change
Canadian egg farms will transition away from conventional housing. Roger Pelissero, an egg producer and 1st Vice Chair of Egg Farmers of Canada says the industry-wide agreement establishes a time-line for moving to other production methods. ?So the timeline is that there will be no new installation of conventional cages and that within 20 years, all conventional housing will be phased out,? Pelissero said. Pelissero anticipates a majority of egg farmers will switch to enriched housing, with the rest transitioning to a cage-free system. Currently about 90 percent of egg production in Canada is conventional housing. Audio: Roger Pelissero, 1st Vice Chair,?Egg Farmers of Canada The post Egg production practices in Canada about to change appeared first on      
Steps to prepare for VFD
A veterinarian with Elanco Animal Health says it?s not too early for livestock producers to get ready for new antibiotic regulations in animal feed that go into effect in 2017. Kerry Keffaber says there are four steps that can be done, on the farm, to prepare for the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). ?One, make sure you have a valid client-patient relationship, check with your suppliers of these products, make sure how that system is going to work, third, training, I think we can all be better trained in all aspects of how to do it better and fourth, let?s review our health program,? Keffaber said. ?Let?s look at ways we can reduce the need for antibiotics and make sure everything we?re using is appropriate and a responsible use.? Keffaber says its important animal agriculture demonstrates it is doing it right. The Veterinary Feed Directive takes effect January first of next year. Audio: Kerry Keffaber, Elanco Animal Health The post Steps to prepare for VFD appeared first on      
USDA-APHIS evaluating poultry indemnity calculator
The USDA is evaluating how it calculates the value of poultry in its indemnity program. Incoming deputy chief economist Dr. Warren Preston says in the wake of the avian influenza outbreak last year, finding a fair price for lost birds proved to be quite challenging. ?We don?t have market prices for the animals.? With a turkey we have meat prices, but for a live bird price; that?s not available.? And for egg layers, there just aren?t really any transaction prices available.? He tells Brownfield there is a federal law stating that the Ag Secretary shall compensate producers for the fair market value of any animals destroyed, and USDA?s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has been assessing its indemnity calculator to see if appropriate values are being formulated. Preston says with turkeys it?s fairly straightforward using current meat prices, but for layers the calculations are more complicated. ?You can obviously look at historical egg prices and historical data on the cost of production.? But how does that translate back into the value of the bird?? We?ve been involved in some discussions with the industry, because they have raised questions about the calculations.? An estimated 500 million birds were affected by the avian flu outbreak in 2015 and Preston says total indemnity payments totaled nearly $270 million dollars. ? The post USDA-APHIS evaluating poultry indemnity calculator appeared first on      
Gulke to Farmers: Ignore Muddled Markets, Focus on Inputs
Between the dollar’s collapse, the crop situation in South America, and all the unknowns about this year’s planting and growing season, the market doesn’t know what to think.  
Farmers Cope With Chesapeake Bay Runoff Rules
A new Farm Bureau poll says three out of four residents living along the Chesapeake Bay say state and local government authority over water resources should top federal authority. Despite AFBF and the EPA’s heated lawsuit over the issue, for those living  and farming along the Bay, regulations are now a way of life. 
"You Broke the Law." House of Agriculture Committee Drills Down on EPA
In a hearing with the Environmental Protection Agency on Feb. 11, members of the House of Agriculture Committee discussed with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on the agency’s impact on the rural economy. 
Organic Ink?
Pete's Pick of the Week:1996 John Deere 8300
This tractor only had 666 original hours when it sold. 
Take Advantage of Annual Gifts
Annual gifting can solve a lot of estate tax problems for farmers with significant land value. Here are some examples.
Macro Factors Overshadow USDA Reports
There were no major surprises in USDA's February Supply & Demand Report.
2015 Agrichemical Sales Fall To $54.6 Billion
In nominal terms the global market for crop protection chemicals declined to $54.6 billion in harvest year 2015 as measured at ex-company level. Compared to the all-time high of $60.5 billion in 2014, this represents a decline of some 9.8%. It is also the first year that the market has declined this decade and brings to an end a five-year period of growth. The writing was on the wall as far back as early 2014 so it comes as no surprise that the market has declined by this amount. However, as always the devil is in the detail and whilst a 10% decline in nominal terms is the case, it is not so when expressed in real terms. If we strip out the effect of currency movement and express the market in constant currency (2014) then in fact the reverse is true: The market saw a slight improvement. Inflationary pressures when taken into account will change the picture once again, but overall in real terms, we will see a growth, albeit significantly less than has been the case for the last few years. Asides the impact of external factors such as currency headwinds and emerging market instability, then significantly lower commodity prices, credit availability, variable weather patterns including the impact of the current El Ni?o weather phenomenon have also contributed to this slowdown. Not so well documented is the effect of farmer buying patterns ?downgrading? purchases to cheaper off-patent alternatives as the squeeze on farm incomes tightens. The trend may well be reversed once farm incomes improve, but as yet that remains unknown. Kleffmann?s value assessment for the crop protection industry remains higher than other estimates and for good reason. An increasing number of farmer surveys and increasingly more within the Asian region allow for the collection of more realistic data on field applications instead of inventory moving through the value chain. This product-use data captures more post-patent products being used and relies less on market share and value information provided by, for example, multinational companies. An interesting comparison is between the reported sales of the leading companies and that of the overall market in 2015. It is a reasonable observation that the leading companies had a tougher time as compared to the overall market, which in turn, lead to the assumption that the distribution chain at least in part filled the void. This is actually the reverse of the situation in 2014. Whether the supply chain has reverted to an equilibrium of before 2014 or in-fact is now effectively de-stocked lead us to various assumptions about the market in 2016 and going forward. It is also true that many of the smaller companies performed better than the multinationals in 2015. Whilst the overall market performance in 2015 could be considered as a disappointment, there are a few shining stars. The massive weakening of many currencies against the U.S. dollar hides some good local opportunities. Strong sales in local currency terms in Ukraine?and Russia stand out and continue the run of good years in these markets. Latin America is very much in the same situation where double-digit growth in local currency terms in Brazil translated into double-digit decline when converted to U.S. dollars, purely due to currency movement. Mexico with a much better growing season in 2015 performed exceptionally well even when converted to U.S. dollars. Within Asia, there were fewer opportunities for growth in contrast to the 2014 season. The markets of China?and India grew in local currency but not to the sort of levels as seen in the past, somewhat analogous to the developments in GDP. The Japanese market fell 2% in local currency. These three main Asian markets, however,?all effectively saw declines when translated to U.S. dollars, significantly so in the case of Japan. In China, which is increasingly transforming into a mature market, agriculture is in the middle of a period of structural change. Modernization of the sector ? emphasized by an accelerated speed of land transfer and crackdown on ?excess-toxicity? has in part contributed to a transient market slowdown. In the near future, however, the modernization of?Chinese agriculture is set to spur the demand for high-quality farming inputs. Of the EU 28 markets, Italy did better than most at close to 4% growth in euro terms. Germany saw slight improvement whereas France declined by just over 1%, further narrowing the gap between these two leading EU country markets. When translated to U.S. dollars, however, all euro markets saw double-digit declines as was the case for the sterling-based UK market. Within the North American region, the U.S. market fell for the first time in a number of years, and whilst the Canadian market was essentially flat in local currency, the region as a whole fell close to 5% in US$ terms. The African & Middle East region continues to be an area with vast potential and under-reported sales at the retail level. Turkey conversely saw significant improvement even when expressed in U.S. dollars. South Africa remains a robust market especially for higher value products but suffered a downturn in 2015 as compared to 2014. For many of the other African markets, however, where registration requirements are less robust, low-value products continue to dominate to the overall benefit of the generic producers. The Middle East remains dominated by political instability although there are positive signs in some markets. None more so than Iran, a market that essentially was off the radar is suddenly becoming a focus for some of the multinationals. Kleffmann?s amis?AgriGlobe?database of farmer surveys and product use information drives much of the company?s top-level analysis. Now in its third year and hosted on the company?s software platform Kleffmann4you,?the database segments product use by geography, crop types, active ingredients and seed varieties. Visit with Drs. Bob Kleffmann and Nomman Ahmed at the AgriBusiness Global Trade Summit Aug. 17-19 in Orlando, Florida, U.S, as Fairclough delivers a “Global Crop Protection Market Trends” on the morning of Aug. 18.
Land Sale of the Week: $9,400/a in Eastern South Dakota
Tuesday saw 160 acres  of highly productive farmland in Moody Co., S.D. sell for $9,400 an acre. The farm was located about 8.5 miles east of Trent almost on the Minnesota border
Syngenta?s Acuron Flexi Gets EPA Approval
Growers looking to control their toughest weeds with flexibility will have access to Acuron Flexi corn herbicide from Syngenta, now that it has received registration from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The flexibility from Acuron Flexi is significant as weed resistance is expanding and weeds are becoming increasingly difficult to manage in various geographies. Acuron Flexi features three active ingredients, including bicyclopyrone, and two modes of action to deliver a multi-targeted approach to control tough weeds. Bicyclopyrone provides burndown plus residual, which delivers improved and more consistent control of large-seeded broadleaf weeds in corn. Read more here.
Dry Start to 2016 for the Corn Belt - A Sign of Things to Come!
Year to date precipitation summaries and 14-day outlook
Hearing Focuses on Proposed Ban on Some Animal Products
While both critics and supporters of a proposed ban on the sale of food products from farms that keep animals in overly restrictive cages say the measure would likely raise egg prices in Massachusetts, supporters contend consumers would barely notice the increases.
Fertilizer Prices Aligning with Revenue
LimelightPlayerUtil.initEmbed('limelight_player_449346'); Pro Farmer's Chip Flory and Input Monitor's Davis Michaelsen discuss input prices for this week's Profit Briefing segment on AgDay TV.
Shrinking BASF Is Pruned for Deals as Chemical Makers Merge
BASF SE is opting to sell businesses at a time when rivals push ahead with mega-deals.