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United Nations Names 2016 International Year of Pulse Crop

The United Nations has declared 2016 as the International Year of the pulse crop. “Pulse” is another term for legumes such as dry beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas. These crops are gaining in popularity, not just in the United States but internationally. The word “pulse” comes from a Latin name for “thick soup.”

“We’re working with Pulse Canada and the Global Pulse Confederation to really develop a brand, a recognition campaign that we could launch here in North America and around the world to really raise the awareness about the importance of pulse crops in the food chain for food security and really for the United States for really good health and nutrition,“ McGreevy said.

In 2013, quinoa was named the International Crop of the Year, providing a good platform to promote the benefits it had to offer.

“You know a few years ago no one even knew how to spell or say quinoa and in 2013 they had their international year and it really catapulted them,” McGreevy said. “It was a real catalyst for them to say these are truly super foods.”

McGreevy hopes for a similar reaction from consumers to Pulse crops.

“If we can get that kind of momentum and really have people realize what a super crop these are as well as a sustainable crop for agricultural systems here in the U.S. and around the world it could have a huge impact in terms of increased consumption and increased profitability for our farmers,” McGreevy said.

The campaign wants people to “Eat Clean and Live Lean,” as the pulse crops boast healthy benefits.

“What most people don’t realize is that they can get 10 grams of protein for every one gram of fat in these pulse products,” McGreevy said. “People need to understand these are great foods, they’re great for the environment and they’re good for the planet.”

All of these benefits factor in well while preparing for a growing population.

“If you look at the trajectory of the world population increasing from 6 billion to 9 billion in the next 50 years,” McGreevy said. “We have to produce more food and we have to produce more food sustainably and that’s why these pulse crops are so important.”

AUDIO: Interview with Tim McGreevy (6:08 mp3)

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Get better before you get bigger


As annual meeting time is in full-swing across farm country, one of the busiest guys in the country is Dr. David Kohl, Professor Emeritus, Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech. This year he is travelling the country talking to farmers about what he sees coming down the road for agriculture.

Kohl says agriculture is coming off a ten-year “Super Cycle” created by emerging economies and our Federal Reserve. It ran from 2002 to 2012 and the grain industry benefited the most.  He notes that things heated-up so much for grain pricing that “We forgot about our livestock industry.”  Kohl says long-term sustainability for grain requires a vibrant livestock industry.

Now, livestock numbers are down and the global market has slowed-down. Some key changes are emerging economies have slowed, the biofuels mandate is softening and the Central Bank stimulus is ending.  He says the slowdown is a natural cycle but it affects grain, milk and oil.  He says $60 oil is fine but he has concerns with $40 oil in that it is below the cost of production for even the most efficient producers.  He points to the number of economic recessions that have been led by oil.

Kohl says he is “Cautiously optimistic” about the coming years but also expects more volatility in the markets in the next 10 years than we have seen in the past 40. He is concerned about the economic problems in Europe and warned about depending too much on exports…especially one-or-two big customers.  “We have to realize, those markets can giveth and they can taketh away.”

His final comment: “Better is better before bigger is better”. Get better at what you are doing before you get bigger.

Listen to Kohl’s comments here:

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Japan movement in TPP, says NPPC

Nick Giordano, National Pork Producers Council, 2014 World Pork Expo

Nick Giordano

A Japanese news agency reports Japanese negotiators are prepared to cut high import tariffs on beef and pork and ease tight restrictions on rice imports for U.S. producers in Trans Pacific Partnership trade talks.

Nick Giordano, with the National Pork Producers Council, tells Brownfield there HAS been some movement forward,  “Yeah, there’s been progress in Japan. There’s been progress in the talks. I just can’t get into the specifics.”

He tells Brownfield the NPPC has said all along that anything above zero trade barriers from Japan would NOT be acceptable in the 12-country trade deal.

Giordano says the ag community agrees that the president needs ‘fast-track’ Trade Promotion Authority, TPA, to get the deal done, “There’s another negotiating round going up in New York this week but the reality is, we’ve got to get TPA.”

Giordano says he thinks Congress WILL pass Trade Promotion Authority.

AUDIO:  Interview with Nick Giordano (7:00 mp3):





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Farmers have some decisions to make in the coming weeks regarding allocation of base acreage for their farm and then participation in the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) or Production Loss Coverage (PLC) programs. University of Wisconsin Extension economist Dr. Paul Mitchell has run the numbers on both programs.

He says for starters, landowners need to make sure their crop yield and base acreage data is up-to-date. If you can, reallocate as much acreage as you can to corn “because your payments go up.”  These are decisions to be made by the land owner by February 28th.

Next, the producer raising crops on the land needs to determine if they want to participate in the ARC or PLC programs. There are a number online tools available to plug-in the numbers from your farm and county to then determine which program is best for you.  Mitchell suggests the program from the University of Illinois.

He says in general, ARC seems to be a better program for corn and soybeans, PLC looks better for wheat. But again, each farm is unique.  He stresses the importance of signing up by March 31st, if you don’t you will automatically be enrolled in PLC and you will not get payments for this year.

Mitchell talks about the options:

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More dairy cows and replacements

USDA’s National Ag Statistic Service reports there were 9.3 million dairy cows in the United States on January 1st, up 1 percent from a year ago.  Replacement heifers were up 1 percent at 4.6 million head with nearly 3 million expected to calve within the year.

California started the year with 1.78 million dairy cows, unchanged from a year ago. The Golden State had 750,000 replacement heifers on January 1, the same as a year ago.

Wisconsin started the year with 1.275 million dairy cows, 5,000 more than on January 1st, 2014.  The Badger State had 710,000 replacement heifers on January 1st, 30,000 more than a year ago.

Texas had the largest percentage increase in dairy cow numbers up 7 percent at 470,000. Michigan was up 6 percent to 403,000 cows.  Eleven states had a decline in dairy cow numbers: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

Read the full NASS report here:


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A good week for the dairy markets

A solid close to a good week in the dairy markets on Friday. Cash cheese barrels on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange increased a quarter-cent, blocks added 2 cents, butter was up 4.5 cents and nonfat dry milk gained a half-cent.  Class III futures were mixed.

For the week: cash cheese barrels up 6 cents, blocks have gained 5.25 cents, butter is 20 cents higher and nonfat dry milk is up 8.75 cents per pound. Class III futures February and March contracts each gained $1.02, April increased 91 cents and July added 89 cents.


More than 9.6 billion pounds of milk was delivered into Federal pooled orders in November down 8.3 percent from November of 2013. 36 percent of the milk was Class I; 14 percent went to Class II utilization; 35 percent was Class III and 15 percent was Class IV.

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Ag conference to discuss getting next generation into agriculture

Governor Ricketts Headshot FINALAgriculture needs to do a better job of recruiting the next generation, according to Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts.  That, he says, is one of the highlighted subjects of his inaugural Agriculture Conference March 4-5.

“As I’m sure many people know, the average of a producer here in the state is 56,” said Governor Ricketts, in a statement provided by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA).  “We have more people over the age of 65 than we do have people under the age of 45 in the industry, and so we want to make sure that we’re doing all we can to get young people into the industry.”

In addition, the event, to be held in Kearney, Nebraska, will include discussion on international trade, expansion of value-added agriculture, and federal regulatory and policy issues that have an impact on Nebraska farmers.

Among the speakers are Washington, D.C. policy analyst Jim Wiesemeyer with Informa Economics; and global policy analyst Mike Dwyer with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

Also speaking are John Heck, the senior vice president of The Scoular Company and Randy Thelen, the senior vice president of economic development for the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.

Wiesemeyer will cover federal policy issues impacting agriculture, while Dwyer will give an overview of emerging markets for Nebraska exports.

Heck and Thelen will discuss a recent effort by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce to study ways to build value-added agriculture opportunities in Omaha.

“The Chamber has taken a serious look at this issue and developed a strategic plan to implement the findings of the value-added study,” Governor Ricketts said. “They recognize that such growth helps all of Nebraska be successful, and I am excited they have chosen the Ag Conference to introduce this plan to the public.”

“It is an exciting time to be involved in the agriculture industry,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach, quoted in a news release.  “The conference is a great way to come together as an industry and gain insight into what we might expect in the future and the challenges we will have to meet along the way.”

Other activities will include the “Celebrate Nebraska Agriculture” reception. The reception begins at 6:00 p.m. March 4, featuring a wide variety of Nebraska food products, and entertainment by Jolene Brown.

A $100 registration fee covers participation at activities on both Wednesday and Thursday. Registration and additional information is available online at, or by calling NDA toll-free at (800) 831-0550.

AUDIO: Governor Pete Ricketts (4 min. MP3)

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Dollar pressures soybeans, corn, wheat


Futures Markets copy

Soybeans were lower on fund and technical selling, along with spillover from the higher dollar. The trade’s watching weather in South America, which looks generally good around most growing areas. Safras & Mercado project Brazil’s soybean crop at 95 million tons, down from their previous estimate, but still a new record. Past that – there was no real fresh news to end the week or the month. Soybean meal was lower and soybean oil was higher, correcting some of the recent product spread activity.

Corn was lower on fund and technical selling. There was no real fresh news for corn either and even if demand is solid, there is a lot of corn available. The trade’s also keeping an eye out for any early 2015 U.S. acreage projections. Ethanol futures were higher. Safras & Mercado sees Brazil’s corn crop at 74.7 million tons, compared to the previous guess of 75.5 million, on lower second crop acreage.

The wheat complex was lower on fund and technical selling, in addition to the higher dollar. There was also no real fresh news for wheat and the overall fundamentals remain bearish. Still, there’s some commercial demand, which did limit losses. Ethiopia bought 70,000 tons of optional origin milling wheat milling wheat, while South Korea passed on all offers from its recent tender for 30,000 tons of feed wheat. Several ships loaded with Russian wheat bound for Egypt are reportedly stuck in the Black Sea as traders wait for an export tax to take effect February 1.


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Cattle end the week about steady

A light cattle trade developed in the North on Friday afternoon with dressed deals at 254.00, about steady with last week’s weighed average basis Nebraska. It looks like business just may be done for the week in the South. The weekly kill totaled 563,000 head, 13,000 less than the previous week and 9,000 less than the same week in 2014.

Boxed beef cutout values were lower on light demand and moderate offerings. Choice beef was down 2.15 at 242.44, and select was 2.60 lower at 235.74.

The cattle inventory report released after the close of trade appears bearish to futures as all categories came out above pre-report guesstimates. For more go to the news section of our website.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle contacts settled 77 to 225 points higher. Trader direction had been hard to pin down through most of the morning with prices wandering higher and lower in a moderate range while overall volume remained moderate at best. Buyer support firmed through the complex at midday with contracts holding moderate to strong support as the focus shifted to end of the month positioning. Traders looked for increased support from outside markets as well as potential beef demand growth heading into spring and early summer. February settled 1.32 higher at 154.85, and April was up 1.77 at 152.27.

Feeder cattle ended the session 125 to 162 points higher. Firm buyer support redeveloped in the nearby contracts at midday. The focus on end of the month positioning helped to draw additional support back into the market late In the session. March settled 1.62 higher at 205.20, and April was up 1.20 at 205.35.

Feeder cattle receipts at Missouri auctions this past week totaled 27,885 head. Compared to last week, steer calves sold 10.00 to 15.00 lower, yearling steers were 5.00 to 10.00 lower. Heifer calves were 5.00 to 10.00 lower, a light test of yearling heifers sold steady to 5.00 lower. As the week progressed a few exceptions were noted on quality heifers in the 550 to 600 pound range that sold steady to 5.00 higher. Feeder steers medium and large 1 averaging 573 pounds brought 253.38 per hundredweight. 575 pound heifers brought 223.81.

Lean hogs settled 107 points lower to 47 higher with only the two front months in the red. Even though hogs managed to break away from the triple digit losses seen Thursday, the tone of the market remained weak. February settled 1.07 lower at 67.47, and April was down .95 at 72.75.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade closed 1.55 lower at 66.01 weighted average on a carcass basis, the West was down 1.49 at 66.00, and in the East there was no price comparison at 64.78. Missouri direct base carcass meat price was steady from 54.00 to 62.00.

The pork carcass cutout value FOB plant was .03 higher at 78.33.

Grain market softness through the end of the month is helping to reduce overall cost of hog production in most operations. This is also allowing many producers to focus on securing additional feed sources in the current range for much of early 2015.

The weekly hog kill was estimated at 2,260,000 head, down 58,000 from last week, but 131,000 more than last year.


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Closing Grain and Livestock Futures: January 30, 2015

Futures Markets copy
Mar. corn closed at $3.70, down 1 and 1/2 cents
Mar. soybeans closed at $9.61, down 7 and 1/4 cents
Mar. soybean meal closed at $329.90, down $8.00
Mar. soybean oil closed at 30.00, up 46 points
Mar. wheat closed at $5.02 and 3/4, down 5 cents
Feb. live cattle closed at $154.85, up $1.32
Feb. lean hogs closed at $67.47, down $1.07
Mar. crude oil closed at $48.24, up $3.71
Mar. cotton closed at 59.36, down 31 points
Mar. rice closed at $10.57, down 29 cents
Feb. Class III milk closed at $16.00, up 1 cent
Feb. gold closed at $1,278.50, up $23.90
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 17,164.95, down 251.90 points

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Education found lacking


Column for the week of January 26, 2015

“I don’t know how to read a tape measure.”

I thought when one of our 20-something friends made that statement, he was joking in an effort to lighten the mood because the topic of discussion was serious and emotional.  The despair in his eyes quickly confirmed this was no jest, but a true and painful confession for this young man to make.

The conversation began when I asked him casually how work was going.  He works nights at a factory that manufactures parts for construction equipment.  A quick learner with a solid work ethic, our young friend (let’s call him Joe) has found favor among managers who appreciate his skill and dedication.  But Joe wants more and knows that his is a dead-end job because he is lacking some basics needed to move up the career ladder.

A high school senior who works part-time at the factory was catching up on some homework during a break.  Joe asked him what he was working on and the high schooler told him it was just some of the basics. Joe told me he had never seen anything that resembled in any way the “basics” apparently being taught at a school just 20 miles from his own alma mater.

Joe feels like he got a bad rap.  He’s frustrated and admittedly more than a little angry that his high school diploma means less than it should.  He was not destined to be a doctor or a lawyer or a rocket scientist, but Joe wanted to learn the basics of a trade in high school so he could get an apprenticeship with a pipefitter or another similar vocation.

Joe graduated with 6 boys and 3 girls in his senior class.  His, like many other small schools, closed the departments that prepared students for trades.  The final casualty of the school’s financial struggles came early in Joe’s high school education when the Industrial Arts department was closed.  The rising costs of insurance along with equipment upgrades and maintenance necessary to meet safety regulations were just too much for the school’s bank account.

Joe’s was a small school struggling to meet payroll and pay utility bills.  It is a small school in a small town located 13 miles from another small school in a small town, which is 7 miles from another small school in a small town.  All 3 of these schools graduate fewer than 10 students each year, and have for years.

These students are the hope of their local communities.  They are stars on the basketball court and baseball field.  They represent the beloved mascot and the green, green grass of home.  But sadly, in some cases, too many of them are left behind.  Sure, they know how to pass a test, but they are too often unprepared, lacking the proficiency in math and science that they need to not only survive, but to thrive in the world today.

I’m not suggesting that all small schools in small towns aren’t cutting the mustard.  I’m not even suggesting that all graduates of Joe’s school are ill prepared for life after high school.  Parental involvement can make all the difference.

I understand that the school is quite often the heart of a community, but at some point, instead of placing an enormous tax burden on those living within your school district, some serious thought should be given to what is really best for the 8 eighteen-year olds that will graduate in May.

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NBB blasts EPA decision on Argentina

reg biodieselThe National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is blasting the EPA for its decision to allow streamlined biodiesel imports from Argentina to the U.S.  NBB CEO Joe Jobe has written to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy and has asked for a meeting. Jobe told reporters this morning, “This is a discretionary decision that they made and their statement says they could reverse this decision at any time if they get more information. We’re determined to give them much more information and to appeal to them to reverse this decision.”

The NBB says the decision is damaging to the US biodiesel industry and jobs – especially in light of continued delays in establishing RFS volumes.

Anne Steckel, Vice President of Federal Affairs for National Biodiesel, says there seems to be a “ho-hum” attitude in Washington about the EPA’s RFS delay, “Some of the ethanol groups, for example, have said they are okay with the delays. I guess that makes some sense given the fact that they’re a much larger and more mature industry. And, they actually had their best year ever last year. But, we’re actually going backwards and companies are filing bankruptcy.”

NBB estimates as much as 600-million gallons of Argentinian biodesel could enter the U.S. – as biodiesel plants go out of business.  Just this week, Jobe say, Green Earth Fuels of Houston, Texas filed for bankruptcy.





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Cattle inventory up 1%


angus cattle-conneally

USDA’s cattle inventory report is showing signs of expansion, with all major categories coming out above pre-report estimates. On January 1, 2015, all cattle and calves in the U.S. totaled 89.800 million head, 1% more than on January 1, 2014.

All cows and heifers that have calved were 39.000 million head, 2% above a year ago, including a 2% increase in beef cows to 29.693 million and a 1% rise in milk cows at 9.307 million head. Heifers weighing 500 pounds and over came out at 19.240 million head, 1% more than last year. Beef replacement heifers jumped 4% to 5.777 million head, with 3.546 million expected to calve, and milk replacement heifers were 1% larger at 4.615 million head, with 2.997 million expected to calve. Other heifers were 8.847 million head, slightly lower than a year ago.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and heavier were 15.779 million head, a 1% increase, with bulls weighing more than 500 pounds at 2.104 million head, up 3%, and calves weighing less than 500 pounds at 13.677 million head, up 1%.

The total number of cattle on feed was reported at 13.093 million head, a 1% year to year rise.

USDA adds the 2014 calf crop was 33.900 million head, 1% more than in 2013.

The numbers look bearish for live and feeder cattle futures.


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Lamb, sheep, goat inventories increase


USDA reports all sheep and lambs in the U.S. on January 1, 2015 totaled 5.280 million head, 1% above January 1, 2014. The breeding herd was pegged at 3.935 million head, 1% more than a year ago, with ewes one year old or older at 3.110 million head, also up 1%. Market sheep and lambs came out at 1.345 million head, unchanged on the year, with lambs representing 94% of the total market inventory. The 2014 lamb crop was 3.44 million head, 2% higher than 2013, with a lambing rate of 111 lambs per 100 ewes.

Wool production totaled 26.700 million pounds, 1% less than a year ago, with 3.680 million lambs and sheep shorn, also down 1%. The average price for wool sold in 2014 was $1.46 per pound, a total of $38.949 million, compared to $39.209 million in 2013.

All goats totaled 2.675 million head, a 2% year to year increase. The breeding herd was pegged at 2.204 million head, up 2%, with does one year and older at 1.647 million head, a 3% rise. Market goats and kids were reported at 471,000 head. The 2014 kid crop of 1.714 million head was 2% larger than 2013. Meat and all other goats came out at 2.105 million head, up 2%, with the milk goat inventory at 365,000 head and Angora goats at 160,000 head.

Mohair production totaled 880,000 pounds, with 159,000 goats and kids clipped. The average weight per clip was 5.5 pounds and the average price was $4.85 per pound, for total value of $4.27 million. In 2013, mohair brought $4.23 per pound for a total value of $3.3 million.

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The way the system is supposed to work

The bill was marked for a veto before it even came out of committee.  It is after all a political poke with in the eye of the Obama administration as the Republican Congress moves full speed into the 114th Congress, a legislative exercise of power and control.  However, while it was tagged “purely political” from the get go – even by many supporters – congressional approval of the Keystone XL pipeline carries with it some evidence Congress – or at least the Senate – may be growing up.

For the record, both the House and Senate have approved the Keystone XL legislation; the veto is looming and will happen, whether the votes are there to override is still an open question.  Supporters will regroup and push hard.  However, this week’s scree isn’t about the future of the pipeline, but the process, particularly the Senate process.

The bill, as expected, sailed through the House.  From the get-go, the White House declared congressional approval was usurping Administration authority to review and approve Keystone, and issued the expected veto threat.  The House cited the Administration’s inability – or so they described it – to complete its review and render the public fate of the controversial pipeline.

However, in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY) gambled on the process his chamber would embrace in its deliberations over Keystone.  Good to his public rhetoric and loyal to his House brethren, McConnell used the Keystone XL bill to deliver on two commitments when he became Majority Leader:  A vigorous floor debate on domestic energy policy writ large, but in the context of the Keystone issue, and a return in the Senate to “regular order,” including the consideration of any and all amendments Senators wish to bring forward.

As minority leader, McConnell decried on behalf of himself and his caucus then-Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D, NV) iron-fisted refusal generally to allow amendments on key legislation.  Even Reid’s Democrat colleagues were frustrated by their leader’s refusal to allow them floor time.

The one outstanding example of a wise Reid decision to get out of the way and let the Senate work its collective will was the chamber’s 2013 passage of comprehensive immigration reform.  That bill was slated for the classic draft-in-the-backroom-run-it-to-the-floor-no-amendments system of bill approvals.

However, several  members – nicknamed the Gang of Seven – hammered together a bipartisan proposal for their colleagues to debate.   The gang had its backroom meetings, but they were collectively wise enough to ask stakeholders on opposing sides of specific issues in the immigration debate to sit down, work out your differences, then bring us that on which you agree and can join hands in supporting.  Those agreements were part and parcel of the debated bill; most, if not all, survived.

Bipartisanship and open debate were hallmarks of the Senate immigration package.  The bill was approved by a healthy bipartisan margin. It’s one of those rare examples of the system working as it was designed to work.

For Keystone, the veto threat notwithstanding, a nearly identical scenario has played out.  McConnell, while at times seriously frustrated with the sheer number of amendments presented, allowed a three-week open process to play out.  Sure there was arm-twisting and not-so-veiled threats on more than one occasion, but that’s the reality and the drama of the legislating.

In the end, the imperfect legislative sausage-making process yielded a Keystone bill acceptable enough that nine Democrats broke with their president and voted to approve.   Several GOP and Democrat Senators publicly welcomed back their ability to offer amendments, and while many on both sides of the aisle chafed that their amendments were rejected, nonetheless they had their moment in the sun and on C-SPAN.  That’s the way the system is supposed to work.

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Wisconsin Corn-Soy Expo is growing

Karls 2015

The popularity of the Wisconsin Corn-Soy Expo continues to grow. A joint effort of the Wisconsin Corn Growers, Wisconsin Soybean Association and Wisconsin Pork Association has drawn record-attendance this year around 1,700.  Bob Karls is Executive Director of the Wisconsin Soybean Association and the Wisconsin Soybean Board, he says the appeal of the trade show, the seminars, the speakers and the annual association meetings makes the show.

He says the increasing soybean acreage in Wisconsin has resulted in increased membership in his association. He is optimistic about the future as research finds new and better ways to grow soybeans while domestic and export demand grows.

Karls talks about the show:



Low commodity prices are proving to be a challenge for growers. Wisconsin Corn Growers Association president Brian Long says they knew the high prices would not last and now the focus is on weathering the storm.

Corn-Soy Expo runs through 4 pm Friday at Kalahari in Wisconsin Dells.

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Midday cash livestock prices

A few bids on the cattle are being reported at 252.00 on a dressed basis in Nebraska on Friday, following a light trade yesterday with just a few cattle reported selling at 250.00. On a live basis cattle sold in Kansas, Texas and Nebraska from 159.00 to 160.50, about steady to $1.00 lower than last week. More trade is expected to develop today. Asking prices are around 160.00 to 162.00 in the South and 258.00 plus in the North.

Boxed beef cutout values are lower with the choice down 1.20 at 243.39, and select is 1.31 lower at 237.01.

Feeder cattle receipts at Missouri auctions this past week totaled 27,885 head. Compared to last week, steer calves sold 10.00 to 15.00 lower, yearling steers were 5.00 to 10.00 lower. Heifer calves were 5.00 to 10.00 lower, a light test of yearling heifers sold steady to 5.00 lower. As the week progressed a few exceptions were noted on quality heifers in the 550 to 600 pound range that sold steady to 5.00 higher. Feeder steers medium and large 1 averaging 573 pounds brought 253.38 per hundredweight. 575 pound heifers brought 223.81.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade are 1.11 lower with a weighted average of 66.45 on a carcass basis, the West is down 1.02 at 66.47, and no price comparison on the East at 66.06. Missouri direct base carcass meat price is steady from 54.00 to 62.00. Midwest hogs on a live basis are lightly tested at steady prices from 41.00 to 46.00.

The pork carcass cutout value is .91 lower FOB plant at 79.21.

Grain market softness through the end of the month is helping to reduce overall cost of hog production in most operations. This is also allowing many producers to focus on securing additional feed sources in the current range for much of early 2015.


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What goes around, comes around


The livestock industry saw record profits in 2014 and is expecting another profitable year in 2015.  Mike Boehlje from Purdue’s Center for Food and Agriculture Business says they shouldn’t get too comfortable – as grain farmers were in a similar position just a few years ago. “The lessons are very clear,” he says.  “The lessons are what goes around, comes around.”

He tells Brownfield when grain prices were high – livestock producers were not doing very well and now, the situation has flipped.  “We already see dairy prices under pressure and dairy incomes are expected to be lower in 2015 than they were in 2014,” he says.  “Beef cow operators are going to be okay for a while.  But cattle feeders are probably going to be in more trouble than they’d like to because they paid too much for feeder cattle.”

Boehlje says the point is that profitable times in the livestock sector will be limited in length. Which he says, means farmers shouldn’t get too aggressive in expansion and become overextended and to make sure there is some reserve for when (not if) things turn around.

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Improving genetic selection in the sheep industry

Dr. Reid Redden_Chairman_NSIP_web

Taking a page from others livestock species, the sheep industry is putting an emphasis on genetic improvement. Reid Redden, chairman of the National Sheep Improvement Program (NISP) says in order for the sheep industry to remain profitable, sheep producers will need to do a better job when it comes to genetic selection. To help with the selection process, Redden says NSIP has developed Estimated Breeding Values or EBVs.

Audio: Reid Redden, Chairman, National Sheep Improvement Program




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Missouri corn and soybean prospects in Cuba


(L to R) Governor Jay Nixon, Richard Fordyce, Gary Marshall, and Don Nikodim

Missouri ag leaders are on board with expanding ag trade with Cuba and the head of the state’s Corn Growers Association says it’s a great opportunity to market Missouri corn. Gary Marshall tells Brownfield Ag News,  “We raise a lot of corn in southeast Missouri and a lot of that goes right down the Mississippi river to New Orleans so, we think it’s an excellent opportunity. But even if it’s not Missouri corn from a U.S. standpoint, if we had the entire Cuban market it would be over 750 thousand metric tons which would make that market the number 12 market for corn in the world.”

And,  Marshall says, there’s great potential for corn byproducts, “Excellent opportunity I think to move DDG’s into that market. They raise a lot of hogs, a lot of beef, some poultry and of course we can use distillers grains in each one of those markets so, we think an opportunity there and eventually if they get new cars, maybe an opportunity for ethanol.

Gary Wheeler, head of the Missouri Soybean Association, says Cuba is preparing to import more soybeans, “They have a 200 metric ton crush facility and they’re building another one, it’s actually being built right now so it’s instant access that we could take right from Missouri and collect on down from the states as well. On top of that, 100 percent of their imports on whole beans comes from the United States.”

Wheeler tells Brownfield corn and soybean growers alike would benefit, “You know, really, our growers are one in the same. Especially north of I-70 being a rotational crop so we’re definitely with our growers we’re going to take advantage of that, help educate them and give them access to a new market.”

Marshall and Wheeler were among several Missouri commodity leaders with Governor Jay Nixon at a discussion about Cuba exports at the Missouri Farm Bureau headquarters on Thursday.

Nixon is leading a trade trip to Cuba in early March with Missouri commodity group leaders and members of national ag groups that are part of the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC).



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