Tag Archives: agriculture

Wheat buyers from Morocco and Tunisia got an up close look at the intricacies and reliability of the U.S. grain infrastructure during the April 12-19 Cochran Fellowship Program’s experience in Kansas and Texas. Morocco and Tunisia are part of the Middle East-East and North Africa (MEENA) region which has the largest volume of wheat imports from all origins. While market share in the MEENA region has fallen, there are several expanding end use market segments that hold promise for U.S. wheat. These niche products include specialty artisan and frozen doughs and pre-mixes, pasta from non-durum flour, and growing biscuit, cracker and confectionary products. These products need the high or low protein (depending on the product) wheat with the high quality traits that American wheat is known for.

“While it’s unfortunate that U.S. market share in the MEENA region has dropped due to increased competition, there are some real opportunities for us in those specialty products,” said Aaron Harries, Vice President of Research and Operations for Kansas Wheat. “The U.S. wheat industry has to remain visible to those buyers in order to capitalize on these emerging opportunities, and bringing the Cochran Fellows to Kansas is a great way to do that.”

 

Kansas was the first leg for the Cochran Fellows team. During their first day in the state, the participants visited the research space at the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center, received an overview of the U.S. grain handling infrastructure and grain quality assessment at the IGP Institute, toured the Kansas State University Hal Ross Flour Mill and the OH Kruse Feed Mill and ended their day at the Anderes farm near Junction City. The next day participants visited the Cargill Shuttle Train Loader near Topeka and the Federal Grain Inspection Service Technical Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

 

Morocco and Tunisia’s sub-region relies heavily on grain imports with bread and durum wheat as the most prominent imported cereals. These countries imported 17.35 MMT wheat of all origins in MY16/17, and 1.6 MMT of US wheat in MY16/17, 85% of which was HRW and 14.3% was durum. Morocco does buy smaller quantities of hard red spring, but mostly relies on hard red winter wheat to fill the shortage of domestic or EU production. Tunisia mostly buys U.S. durum.

 

Team participants also visited Houston, Texas. While there, the Cochran fellows experienced Port Houston up close and personal with a Sam Houston Boat Tour along the Houston Ship Channel. This unique opportunity helped buyers to visualize international cargo vessels and operation at the port’s Turning Basin Terminal. Next the Cochran fellows visited the Lansing Terminal to get a full-fledged field-to-vessel look at the country’s wheat industry.

 

“The members of this group of Cochran Fellows were engaged and excited about the U.S. wheat industry,” said Harries. “It’s experiences like these that help to build, or solidify, trading relationships with our export markets.”

 

The Cochran Fellowship Program provides short-term training opportunities to agricultural professionals from middle-income countries, emerging markets, and emerging democracies. Approximately 600 Cochran fellows come to the United States each year to work with U.S. universities, government agencies, and private companies. They receive hands-on training to enhance their technical knowledge and skills in areas related to agricultural trade, agribusiness development, management, policy, and marketing. Since the program’s inception there have been more than 18,000 total fellows from 126 participating countries.

The Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund is providing financial assistance on a statewide basis to needy or distressed cattle producers in Nebraska impacted by Winter Storm Ulmer/Bomb Cyclone.

Eligible applicants under the Fund include any cattle producer with an operation located in a county or tribal area falling under an emergency or disaster declaration made by the Nebraska Governor or Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). Moreover, applicants must demonstrate genuine need or distress as a result of the disaster by providing relevant asset information and certifying their assets are not sufficient or adequate to rebuild from the damage suffered.

 

Membership in Nebraska Cattlemen is NOT required for an applicant to receive relief.

 

Submitted applications must be fully completed and have all required eligible expense documentation attached or enclosed to be considered. Applicants may submit documentation and requests for reimbursement for cattle production expenses not paid for by insurance or other governmental sources, including but not limited to costs for rebuilding and recovery for lost fencing and pens, feed, livestock/carcass removal or other necessary cattle production costs directly related to rebuilding from the winter storm.   Documentation can include copies of receipts for purchases of supplies, invoices for repairs, photos of damage, etc.

 

Applicant must demonstrate that expenses/losses incurred were related to cattle production and directly caused by recent storms and flooding as the result of Winter Storm Ulmer/Bomb Cyclone in the State of Nebraska.

 

Submitted applications will be reviewed individually by a committee selected by the Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund Board of Directors. Eligibility for financial assistance will be determined on a case-by-case basis with the goal of distributing relief so as to maximize the Fund’s charitable impact to support cattle producers in Nebraska. The total amount that each applicant will be eligible to receive will be determined after the application period ends in accordance with the above stated impact goal. The review committee has the right to reject any and all applications for any reason.

 

Applications must be completed and have all required documentation to be considered.
Applications for relief must be postmarked by May 31, 2019. No application will be considered if postmarked after that date.

 

Completed applications must be mailed to 4611 Cattle Drive, Lincoln, NE 68521 or scanned and e-mailed to disasterrelief@necattlemen.org.
DES MOINES,– America’s pig farmers continue to practice many of the principles of Earth Day, which is April 22, every day on their farms, and in many cases, have done so for generations. This fact is underscored by the results of a recent study from the University of Arkansas, which confirmed that today’s pork is more earth-friendly than ever thanks to great progress in multiple key sustainability metrics over more than five decades.

According to the new study, A Retrospective Assessment of U.S. Pork Production: 1960 to 2015the inputs needed to produce a pound of pork in the United States have become more environmentally friendly over time. Specifically, 75.9% less land is needed, 25.1% less water and 7% less energy. This also has resulted in a 7.7% smaller carbon footprint (see infographic.)

To save as much water as today’s pig farms do over their predecessors of 50-plus years ago, the average American would have to take 90 fewer showers per year. Likewise, to understand the energy savings accomplished by pig farmers during the study period, a typical household would need to eliminate the use of a refrigerator altogether.

“The study confirms that U.S. pig farmers like me have been making progress in our ongoing commitment to do what’s best for people, pigs and the planet, which is at the heart of the industry’s We CareSM initiative,” said Steve Rommereim, National Pork Board president and a pig farmer from Alcester, South Dakota. “It’s encouraging to see this level of progress in environmental stewardship over the years. It also is helpful to have a benchmark to measure additional improvements.”

Unlike some earlier studies, the new Pork Checkoff-funded study used a comprehensive life-cycle assessment approach and the best available methodology along with a field-to-farm gate approach. This meant including material and energy flows associated with the full supply chain, beginning with extraction of raw materials through production of live, market-weight pigs, including marketed sows.

“As it has for decades, the U.S. pork industry will continue to make strides in overall efficiency, which is the major driver behind improving sustainability across all metrics,” Rommereim said.

This may come in terms of nutrition, genetics, health management, crop management and overall technology adoption. The ongoing trend is clearly seen in the Arkansas study. Feed conversion (pounds of feed needed for pound of pork gained) started at 4.5 in 1960 and ended at 2.8 in 2015 – a 38% improvement even while market hog weights went from 200 pounds to 281 pounds.

“Celebrating Earth Month in April provides an opportunity to not only recognize the environmental sustainability advancements of pig farming in the last five decades, but also to explore new ways to build on this progress going forward,” Rommereim said. “We look forward to the challenge of improving our current metrics of sustainability because it’s right for consumers, farmers, animals and the planet.”

A bipartisan group of Senators is seeking a USDA-wide National Water Quality Initiative to prioritize conservation measures in the 2018 Farm Bill to address water quality.

In a letter, the Senators point out that the 2018 Farm Bill made “historic investments” in voluntary conservation efforts to address water quality challenges. Specifically, the bill reformed and improved all major conservation programs in order to provide new tools to assist farmers, ranchers, and landowners in addressing water quality concerns.

The group of Senators, led by Senate Agriculture Committee ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow, urged Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to implement the provisions through the department-wide approach, which would build off the existing initiative housed at the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

The letter was also signed by Senate Republicans Joni Ernst of Iowa, Mike Braun of Indiana, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Democrats Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Tom Carper of Delaware, and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A federal judge has awarded more than $181,000 in legal fees to seven lawyers who successfully fought a 2012 Iowa law that made it illegal to get a job at a livestock farm to conduct an animal cruelty undercover investigation.

Animal rights and civil rights organizations, including the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Iowa Citizens For Community Improvement, sued Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and others over the so-called ag gag law.

In January, U.S. District Court Judge James Gritzner concluded the law violated the constitutional right to free speech. The state has appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Last week, Gritzner approved animal rights groups’ attorney fees, which the state must pay. Additional costs are mounting for the appeal.

TOPEKA, Kan. — At its 123rd annual meeting in Wichita, Kansas Grain and Feed Association (KGFA) chose Deb Miller, general manager of Stockton Farmers Union Mercantile and Shipping Association, as its first-ever chairwoman. Miller was chosen by the association’s 16-member board of directors to serve her two-year term leading the association through April of 2021.

“It’s such an honor to be chosen as the first chairwoman of this storied association,” Miller said. “As an industry, we’ve had many trials and tribulations, but we’ve always persevered, adapted and succeeded. We’ve done pretty well in the last 123 years, and we’re just getting started.”

Miller is the 90th industry leader to be picked into KGFA’s pinnacle role after previously serving three terms on the board of directors beginning in 2011.

“Throughout her career, Deb Miller has been an unmatched leader and innovator in the grain industry,” KGFA president and CEO Ron Seeber said. “We are honored to have her at the helm.”

KGFA members also picked Bob Tempel (WindRiver Grain LLC, Garden City) as vice chairman, Brent Emch (Cargill, Inc., Olathe) as second vice chairman and Troy Presley (CoMark Equity Alliance, Cheney), Devin Schierling (Team Marketing Alliance, Moundridge) and Allen Williams (ADM Grain Co., Overland Park) as board members.

During its 123rd annual gathering at the DoubleTree Airport hotel on Monday and Tuesday, nearly 230 KGFA members enjoyed networking and educational activities. Members heard a keynote address from Dan Oblinger, a hostage negotiator on how improved listening techniques and skills will enhance leadership qualities in the workplace and Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle provided an update on the Kansas political landscape after the legislature’s first adjournment last week.

Midwest lawmakers last week introduced a bill that would provide tax relief for disaster victims stemming from events this spring. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa announced the Tax Relief Act of 2019.

The bill would provide tax deductions for individuals and businesses affected by federally declared disasters that occurred between January 1, 2019 and April 15, 2019, including flooding in the Midwest and tornadoes in the South. Benefits under the bill include special rules allowing access to retirement funds, a special credit for employee retention during business interruption, suspension of limits on deductions for certain charitable contributions, special rules for deductions for disaster-related personal casualty losses, and special rules for measurement of earned income for purposes of qualification for tax credits.

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst joined Grassley and says the bill would “help provide important and badly-needed relief for Iowans in disaster areas.”

Lincoln, NE.  The Nebraska Farmers Union Board of Directors met April 13th for their spring board meeting.  They spent a good deal of time reviewing bills before the legislature. Their list of legislative positions is below.

 

Strong Support

 

  1. Property tax reform and relief.NeFU reaffirmed their strong support for the efforts of Nebraskans United Coalition to broaden the sales tax base, eliminate income tax exemptions, and more fairly fund K-12 education.  Efforts to undo the one billion shift from state income and sales tax based education funding to property taxes over the last 25 years must be addressed this session.  There must be immediate and substantial property tax relief.

  1. Take full advantage of the 2018 Farm Bill’s decriminalization of industrial hemp.The board reaffirmed their longstanding support for Senator Lathrop’s LB457 that removes industrial hemp from the scheduled drug list and Senator Wayne’s LB657 that authorizes 2019 hemp production under the rules and regulations still in place under the 2014 Farm Bill, and authorizes the development of state rules and regulations that accommodate the USDA guidelines that will authorize production under the 2018 Farm Bill. They welcome the prospect of adding a new profitable crop as an option for farmers to consider.

  1. Expansion of Cottage Foods. The board reaffirmed their support for Senator Crawford’s LB304 that expands the opportunity for people to sell non-potentially hazardous “cottage foods” already allowed at farmers markets from their homes or at certain events.  Many of these cooks are farm women.

Strong Opposition

 

  1. Efforts to radically change Right to Farm protections. The NeFU board took strong opposition to Senator Hughes LB227 that undermines Nebraska’s Right to Farm’s traditional protections for agricultural activities and neighbors.  It would provide carte blanche nuisance exemptions for one neighbor who dramatically changes or expands their operation at the expense of their neighbors, most of whom are also farmers. The clear intent of this bill is to proactively provide nuisance exemptions for Costco poultry growers and other mega CAFO livestock operations. Everyone in rural Nebraska should use good neighbor practices and be responsible for the well-being of their neighbors. LB227 picks one winner at the expense of all their next door neighbors who will be the losers.

  1. Efforts to undermine Nebraska wind development.  The NeFU board strongly opposes Senator Brewer’s LB155 and LB373 and Senator Bostelman’s LB700.  All these bills are unnecessary, and intended to discourage wind development in Nebraska. Wind development has brought $3 billion of new capital investment and tax base and millions of dollars additional income landowners and local and state taxes.  These bills are intended to yank the Nebraska “Welcome Mat” for clean burning renewable energy that uses no water, emits no carbon, and uses only willing buyer/willing seller landowner easements. Only willing landowners have wind turbines on their land.

The American Veterinary Association is happy about the re-introduction in Congress of the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act.

It’s an important bill to the industry because if it’s passed, it will play a critical role in addressing shortages of food animal and public health veterinarians in rural and agricultural communities. “Veterinary shortages are one of the many significant challenges facing farmers and ranchers today,” says AVMA President Dr. John De Jong. “If we don’t take steps to address these shortages, we’ll likely see an increase in animal disease incidents that impact our economy and even public health.” De Jong says they’re very grateful to all lawmakers who’ve been supportive of the legislation.

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture designated 190 regions in 44 states as suffering from shortages of food animal or public health veterinarians, the most in the program’s history. Student debt is a key cause of the shortage. Students typically graduate with $180,000 in debt. Careers as a food animal vet typically pay less than a career as a companion animal vet.

Senators from states that are still recovering from natural disasters met with President Trump at the White House to talk about stalled disaster aid.

The House passed a bill that failed to advance in the Senate. Politico says the legislation has been bogged down for months over a dispute about U.S. aid to Puerto Rico. Roll Call Dot Com says Hurricane Maria battered the island in 2017 and Congress set aside billions of dollars in assistance. However, some $20 billion in rebuilding aid hasn’t been spent yet and President Trump has accused Puerto Rico officials of mismanaging the aid. Senate Republicans have introduced a $13 billion aid package, which includes $600 million in additional assistance to Puerto Rico. Democrats want an additional $462 million for the long-term rebuilding of the country.

House Democrats introduced a $17.2 billion bill last week that builds on the House version while adding an additional $3 billion to help Midwest flooding victims recover. Another winter storm dumped heavy snow on parts of the Plains and the Midwest last week. At one point, almost 90,000 people were without power in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The additional precipitation and snow melt could cause another surge in the Missouri River after severe flooding swamped farmlands and grain storage sites last month.