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ISA showcases research at FPS

anderson-edThe Iowa Soybean Association showcased the activities of its On-Farm Network and Environmental Programs and Services teams at this year’s Farm Progress Show.  ISA research specialists were on hand to discuss specific replicated strip trials and projects from areas across the state and to work with farmers to determine what opportunities might exist on their farms.

In this interview with Brownfield, ISA senior director of supply and production systems Ed Anderson gives us an update on ISA research and discusses how ISA is working in conjunction with the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and the recently-announced Iowa Ag Water Alliance.

AUDIO: Ed Anderson (3:35 MP3)

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For the love of wild mustangs

This is a small slice of the story of Alan Day’s efforts to manage wild mustangs.  In the 1980s, the Tucson, Arizona cowboy acquired his third ranch in southern South Dakota.  As Alan Day tells the story, on his ranch, he managed wild mustangs that were owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. His book, The Horse Lover, tells the entire story, but Mr. Day told me some it in a phone call. There’s much more in the book, including the forward, written by Alan’s sister Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

AUDIO: Alan Day (3 min. MP3)

AUDIO: Alan Day full interview (30 min. MP3)

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NCR-SARE grants available

The 2015 North Central Region – Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE) Farmer Rancher Grant Call for Proposals is now available.

Farmers and ranchers in the North Central region are invited to submit grant proposals to explore sustainable agriculture solutions to problems on the farm or ranch. Proposals should show how farmers and ranchers plan to use their own innovative ideas to explore sustainable agriculture options and how they will share project results. Projects should emphasize research or education/demonstration.

There are three types of competitive grants: individual grants ($7,500 maximum), partner grants for two farmers/ranchers from separate operations who are working together ($15,000 maximum), and group grants for three or more farmers/ranchers from separate operations who are working together ($22,500 maximum). A total of approximately $400,000 is available for this program.

NCR-SARE will be accepting online submissions for the Farmer Rancher Grant Program. More information about the online submission system can be found in the call for proposals.

Interested applicants can find the call for proposals online as well as useful information for completing a proposal at  Proposals are due on November 20, 2014 at 4p.m. CST.


The program announcing two grants to University of Wisconsin-Madison students: Julie Dawson has been recommended for funding for a $199,866 grant for the project “Tomato variety trials for flavor, quality and agronomic performance, to increase high-value direct marketing opportunities for farmers and on-farm trialing capacity”.

Ruth Genger has been recommended for funding for a $199,106 grant for the project “Building Resilience and Flexibility into Midwest Organic Potato Production:  Participatory Breeding and Seed Potato Production”.

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Another good week in the dairy markets

Cash cheese and butter were higher on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Friday along with Class III futures.  For the week, cash cheese barrels up 8.5 cents, blocks up 6.75 cents, cash butter down 6.75 cents, nonfat dry milk up 2.5 cents.  September Class III futures increased $1.42, October gained 43 cents and November up 13 cents.

While the price of butter declined for the week, it is still trading in near-record-high territory.  Spot loads are hard to come by and garnering 3.5 to 6 cents over market.  More milk is going into bottling as the pipeline is being filled for back-to-school; that means more cream should be available.

Dairy Market News reports milk production across the country is trending lower but still above year-ago levels thanks to increased cow numbers.  Favorable weather in the Midwest and Northeast is supporting production but heat is taking its toll in California, Arizona and the Pacific Northwest.

3.8 billion pounds of packaged fluid milk products were estimated to have been sold in the U.S. in June, down 2.2 percent from June of 2013.  Conventional fluid milk sales were 2.9 percent lower while organic fluid milk sales were up 11.3 percent from a year ago.

Milk production is declining seasonally in Western Europe but still above year-ago levels.  For the first six months of this year, milk production in the 28 European Union states was up 5.1 percent from the January-through-June period of 2013.  Italian production was 2.8 percent higher, Germany up 3.6 percent, France increased 6.2 percent, Ireland up 7.3 percent, Belgium increased 8.1 percent and the UK was 10.7 percent higher.  Only Spain and Greece were below last year.  In Eastern Europe: Polish production is 7.6 percent higher, Lithuania increased 8.7 percent, Estonia up 8.9 percent and Latvia’s production is up 12.8 percent.  The Czech Republic saw a 0.7 percent decline from a year ago.

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EU to help dairy producers

The European Commission announced it will offer Private Storage Aid to pay for the storage of butter, skim milk powder and some cheeses for three to seven months.  Farm milk prices have plunged in Europe since Russia banned imports from countries which imposed sanctions on them.

A draft proposal will be presented to the Commission in the next week.  The EU Ag Commissioner Dacian Ciolos  also announced he will present a full analysis of the impact the Russian ban is having on European agriculture.  The Commissioner promised “further measures” if needed to support EU farmers.

Russia imposed a one-year embargo on meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables from the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia and Norwayy in retaliation for Western economic sanctions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

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Strong emotions in MO dairy bill veto

Missouri dairy industry leaders say a subsidy on federal insurance that the legislature approved would help slow the decline in the number of dairy farmers in the state and keep dairy prices low for Missouri consumers. Governor Nixon vetoed the ag bill, which contained a controversial provision.

Missouri Dairy Association President Larry Purdom – at a gathering in the state Capitol this week – said more than 700 dairy farmers have shut down in the last 10 years.  Purdom says, “I have gone to the Springfield sale barn for the last three years and witnessed my neighbors with tears in their eyes, selling their cows, because they could not pay their feed bills.”

Nixon vetoed the bill because of a separate provision that would put captive deer under the control of the Department of Agriculture, not the Conservation department. The legislature’s veto session, where an attempt to override the veto is expected to be made, begins September 10th.

~Thanks to Missourinet~

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Water issues big topic at FPS 2014

Iowa Ag Secretary and ADM's Chris Riley at 2014 Farm Progress Show

Iowa Ag Secretary and ADM’s Chris Riley at 2014 Farm Progress Show

Water was a big topic at this week’s Farm Progress Show, which was cut short by too much water. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says farmers have historically engaged in conservation and have worked to improve runoff. Northey told Brownfield farmers are working harder to make improvements with more tools now available to do it. As for the EPA’s Waters of the US draft rule, Northey says the agency wants too much control over agriculture.

Northey tells Brownfield Ag News, “In the short term, the EPA is probably going to continue with that philosopy. In the long term, I’m sure there’ll be lawsuits over it. We’ll see how it all ends up. Right now, we’ve got some things we can do on the farm. Let’s take care of those and let’s count those and make sure that we’re making progress.”

EPA Administrator Karl Brooks told Brownfield the EPA is listening and hearing lots of great suggestions on how to make the final rule work better. Brooks tells Brownfield, “I get the fact that people don’t want to leave it up to somebody’s discretion in Washington, D.C. And, that’s the agency’s goal – to have the rules of the road – and you might say the rules of the water – clear, right at the outset so that people don’t have to deal with this agency, they don’t have to deal with the Corps of Engineers.”

The final day of Farm Progress show was called off Thursday because of storms and too much rain.

Interview with Bill Northey (4:00 mp3)

Interview with Karl Brooks (6:00 mp3)

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Quiet, mixed session ahead of Labor Day weekend

Soybeans were mixed on commercial buying against speculative selling. Unknown bought 123,000 tons of new crop U.S. and overall demand remains strong. Still, the longer term fundamentals are bearish and traders expect a record crop. Soybean meal was higher and bean oil was lower on the adjustment of old crop/new crop spreads. First notice day deliveries were largely as expected.

Corn was lower on fund and technical selling. Traders continue to watch the weather, with more scattered rainfall expected over the next few days in key growing areas. Corn’s also looking at bearish fundamentals and expecting a record crop. Ethanol futures were higher. The 2014/15 marketing year for corn and soybeans starts September 1.

The wheat complex was lower on fund and technical selling. The trade’s watching the situation in Ukraine and the domestic spring wheat harvest delays. Past that – there was no real fresh supportive news and world fundamentals are bearish. First notice day deliveries on large on Kansas City, relatively light on Chicago and small on Minneapolis. South Korea bought 63,000 tons of optional origin feed wheat.

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Standability not seen as a problem

When you have the potential for extremely high yields in corn, as is the case this year across most of the Midwest, standability can become an issue.  But University of Illinois Extension agronomist Dr. Emerson Nafziger doesn’t think standability will be a problem this fall.

nafziger-emerson-u of illinois“The conditions in the mid-summer were so good that we think the stalks can put in pretty good lignin—that’s sort of the woodiness that it takes for them to stand even if they’re no longer alive at the end of the season,” Nafziger says. “At this point, I’m fairly confident that this crop will stand until the combines run.”

So unless there’s some sort of extreme weather event in September, Nafziger thinks the Midwest corn crop should have pretty clear sailing into harvest.

“At this point in time, a lot of people are just wondering what that yield monitor is going to look like—and if they haven’t seen a ‘3’ on it before, as the first digit, they’re probably going to see it this year, in some places in their fields at least.”

Nafziger comments came in an interview with Brownfield at the Farm Progress Show in Iowa.

AUDIO: Emerson Nafziger (6:51 MP3)

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Another record year for ag exports

The U.S. is on its way to another record year in agricultural exports. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tells Brownfield that, by the end of this fiscal year on September 30th, exports will have set another new record.

“(A record) 152.5 billion dollars of ag exports, as well as a trade surplus record of 43 billion dollars as far as selling more than we purchase in terms of ag products,” Vilsack says.

There are several reasons for the strong export numbers, says Vilsack.

“I think it’s a quality product at an affordable price—it’s a reliable supply—and I think it’s aggressive promotion that USDA is engaged in with commodity groups and others to basically make sure the world knows about American agriculture.”

Ag exports for fiscal year 2015 are currently projected at 144.5 billion dollars, down eight billion dollars from the revised forecast for fiscal 2014. The declines are due to lower values of soybeans and soybean meal, and lower volumes and prices for other grains.

AUDIO: Tom Vilsack (:51 MP3)

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WOTUS debate rages on

The debate continues to rage over the EPA’s proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

The latest development involves the release of EPA maps which critics say confirm that the agency is attempting to control land across the country.  Ashley McDonald of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association calls it “the smoking gun for agriculture”.  McDonald says the maps show that EPA knew exactly what it was doing and knew exactly how expansive its proposal was before it was published.

ken with karl brooks epaIn a blog post, EPA spokesman Tom Reynolds disputes that notion, saying the law has nothing to do with land use or private property rights.

In an interview with Brownfield at the Farm Progress Show, EPA Region 7 administrator Karl Brooks reiterated EPA’s basic message—that the proposed rule simply clarifies the EPA’s jurisdiction for the Clean Water Act.

“The rule serves the needs of American agriculture by clarifying the jurisdictional reach of both the EPA and our state environmental partners,” says Brooks.  “So, simple is good. Clear is better.  The interaction you don’t have to have with the EPA or with the Army Corps, that’s the best interaction for a producer.  That’s where the proposed rule would take us.”

Brooks says the EPA is listening to agriculture’s concerns.

“I’d like to think that, if you take just some of the more heated rhetoric out that tends to boil up around the edges of this conversation, you can really see some basic principles there that look like they might provide a way forward for the rule.”

Brooks says the goal for the final rule is “clarity and workability”.

AUDIO: Karl Brooks (5:37 MP3)

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Call JULIE prior to digging to avoid injury, liability

Hitting underground utilities during digging can result in severe consequences.  JULIE is the one-call center to reach when preparing to do any excavating.  They work with utility companies to determine where to avoid digging.  Roger Watwood, JULIE Southern Illinois Damage Prevention Manager, tells Brownfield JULIE can be contacted with no cost to the person doing the digging.  And with that call, a person can, at the very least, avoid being hit with the high costs of repairing damaged lines.  Worse is the possibility of injury resulting from striking underground gas or electric transmission lines.

AUDIO: Roger Watwood (8 min. MP3)

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A light cattle trade at higher prices on Friday

USDA Mandatory reported cattle trading was light in Kansas on moderate demand, compared to the previous week, live sales were 2.00 to 3.00 higher at 155.00. Trading was light in Nebraska on moderate to good demand. Compared to a week ago, a few live sales traded steady to firm at 155.00, and dressed sales 3.00 higher at 245.00. Trading was light in Iowa on moderate demand, dressed sales were 1.00 higher at 243.00. The weekly cattle slaughter was estimated at 584,000 head, 6,000 less than last week, and 49,000 head smaller than 2013.

Boxed beef cutout values were weak on light to moderate demand and moderate to heavy offerings. Choice boxed beef was .59 lower at 246.30 and select was .88 lower at 234.39.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle contracts settled 50 to 132 points higher. The fact that strong late week support quickly flooded back into the lean hog futures market changed the overall tone of the cattle market. Follow through buyer support quickly redeveloped, seemingly out of thin air, with moderate to strong gains holding. Word of cattle trading in the North at higher prices was also supportive late in the session. August went off the board at 155.90 up 1.25 and October was 1.32 higher at 151.42.

Feeder cattle ended the session 150 to 245 higher. Feeders shook off the early pressure as traders looked for additional support coming from both the lean hog and live cattle futures market. Trade mentality seemed to be focused on closing the week higher given the light trade volume and lack of additional fundamental pressure seen in the market. September settled 1.50 higher at 218.65, and October was up 1.95 at 216.72.

Feeder cattle receipts at Missouri auctions this week totaled 14,923 head. Compared to the previous week, feeder steers and heifers trended steady to 5.00 lower, although some southern markets did see instances of fully steady to firm markets on light weight feeders suitable for grazing wheat pastures. The supply of feeders offered at auctions was light as the August heat kept many producers at home. Feeder steers medium and large 1 averaging 624 pounds traded at 245.27 per hundredweight. 619 pound heifers averaged 227.43.

Lean hogs settled 25 to 265 points higher. End of the week buying flooded back into the market with front month October futures trading at or near the $3 trading limit at times.  The focus was on the potential fundamental support seen through early September which could lead to another round of active commercial and investment support stepping into the complex. October settled 2.65 higher at 98.12, and December was up 1.62 at 92.00.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade closed 2.07 higher with a weighted average of 92.60 on the carcass basis, the West was up 1.07 at 91.53, and Eastern markets at 90.50 with no price comparison. Missouri direct base carcass meat price was steady at 88.00.

The pork carcass value was 1.10 higher at 101.72 FOB plant, bellies were nearly 11.00 higher.

Barring a huge surprise in country numbers, weekly hog kills will steadily climb from September through November. By Thanksgiving, pork demand will be challenged to handle an additional 300,000-plus heavy hogs on a weekly basis.

The weekly hog kill at 1,979,000 head is 12,000 less than last week and 229,000 less than last year.

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Fargo chosen for ag genotyping center

Fargo, North Dakota has been chosen over Decatur, Illinois as the site of the new National Agricultural Genotyping Center (NAGC).

The National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Board approved the final recommendation today. The NAGC is a partnership between the National Corn Growers Association and the Los Alamos National Lab.

According to NCGA, the center will “translate scientific discoveries (such as maize genome project information) into solutions for production agriculture, food safety, functional foods, bioenergy and national security.”

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Closing Grain and Livestock Futures: August 29, 2014

Sep. corn closed at $3.59, down 2 and 3/4 cents
Sep. soybeans closed at $10.89 and 1/2, up 15 and 3/4 cents
Sep. soybean meal closed at $439.50, up $6.30
Sep. soybean oil closed at 32.04, down 60 points
Sep. wheat closed at $5.50 and 1/4, down 6 and 1/4 cents
Aug. live cattle closed at $155.90, up $1.25
Oct. lean hogs closed at $98.12, up $2.65
Oct. crude oil closed at $95.96, up $1.41
Dec. cotton closed at 66.57, down 1 point
Sep. Class III milk closed at $23.95, unchanged
Sep. gold closed at $1,285.80, down $2.90
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 17,098.38, up 18.81 points

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Recent rain saved the soybean crop

Up until a week ago, Preble County Ohio farmer Don Jackson wasn’t so sure about his 2014 soybean crop, but Don says a two inch rain last week saved his soybeans.

“They looked good all year, but they were running out of moisture,” Jackson said. “With that rain last week I think our bean crop is going to be pretty phenomenal this year, like I said, we got the rain that probably added 15-20 bushels per acre on the beans.”

And the corn crop is shaping up to be even better than last year, which Don says he’s having a hard time believing.

“The ear maybe doesn’t look that big until you pull it back and there’s like two more extra rows of kernels in that ear,” said the Preble County farmer. “And then our kernel depth, and then out weather, our cool weather we had it’s really going to be a deep, heavy kernel this year, so that will definitely add to the yield.”

Jackson was at the Seed Consultants field day near Washington Court House, Ohio on Thursday, August 28.

Audio: Don Jackson, farmer, Preble Co. Ohio (2:12 mp3)

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Open Ag Data Alliance addresses information management


With the introduction of new services that involve data generation, a new group has come into being.  The Open Ag Data Alliance was introduced at a media event along with software and some big iron.  The alliance addresses the software, Case IH AFS Connect 2.0, which marketing manager Mike Klein refers to as a farm management solution allowing farmers to connect with their equipment fleets in real time.  “We take data very seriously,” Klein told Brownfield Ag News at the roll-out.  “We wanted to take extra steps to ensure privacy.”

2014-aaron ault

To that end, the owner can decide who will see what data.  For instance, if a service man is given temporary permission to look at engine data for the sake of maintenance, he still would not be able to see yield data.  To that end, the Open Ag Data Alliance (OADA) was founded.  Aaron Ault, project lead for OADA, says the alliance is an open source project designed to build a framework by which the ag industry can exchange data on behalf of the farmer.  “It puts the farmer in charge of his data,” said Ault, “but it also makes it so that people that want to build tools to help him use his data better, they can do that really easily.”

AUDIO: Aaron Ault (5 min. MP3)

AUDIO: Mike Klein (3 min. MP3)

Photos: Mike Klein and Aaron Ault

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Good growing year at Renk

Rick & Alex with one of their dealersThe corn and soybeans on the Renk Seed test plot at Sun Prairie, Wisconsin look very good this year.  Plant geneticist Rick Batty says they are especially excited about the new varieties they have in the plot.  He says when they add a new variety they strive to improve yield, agronomics and stress tolerance.  Batty says the extreme conditions of the past three years have been a good test of which hybrids can survive and thrive.

Batty talks about the process 5:19 mp3

On the soybean side of the plot, Alex Renk says the recent rains are just what the crop needs to really fill things out.  The cooler weather this summer has been ideal and pest problems have been minimal.  He also talks about the growth of the company including the expanded facilities at Sun Prairie.

Alex talks about the soybeans 6:14 mp3

Jeff Renk 2014

Jeff Renk is product manager for the company, he says farmers really need to take a look at the new varieties being introduced each year.  There is a lot of research and development going into each variety and it pays-off.  Given the drop in corn prices over the past year, some may be considering reducing input costs by not using some traits, Renk says that is a decision to be made by each farmer but cautions “if you want to control insect pressure, you have to have it.”  Another tool that farmers may consider is higher populations but again, that is a decision to be made on an individual farm basis.  He also notes that the hybrids that have come through the extremes of the last three years “will stand the test of time.”

Jeff talks about the business 9:19 mp3

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Rep. Latta spends day talking agriculture

Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH) toured four agricultural operations in the 5th District on Thursday, August 28.

The Congressman tells Brownfield it’s important for him to get out and talked with farmers.

“It’s really interesting what you can learn in a day,” the Congressman said.

During his tour, the Congressman says he was hearing some concern about the new Farm Bill and the signup process.

“I’ve talked with folks on the training side to make sure they’ve got their training so when the farmers come in they can get everyone signed up,” said Congressman Latta.

Ohio Director of Agriculture Dave Daniels joined Congressman Latta on the tour in Wyandot and Hardin counties.

Audio: Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH) (5:25 mp3)

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Ag Secretary Vilsack on exports, COOL, RFS and more

vilsack-tom-photo 8-14U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called Brownfield Friday morning to announce that agricultural exports will set another new record when the 2014 fiscal year ends on September 30th.

Overall, the forecast for U.S. ag exports was raised to a record 152.5 billion dollars, up three billion dollars from last quarter’s forecast.

Secretary Vilsack was also asked about two important trade issues—efforts to convince China that it should synchronize its biotech approval process with that of the U.S.; and how USDA will respond if the WTO ruling on country-of-origin-labeling goes against the U.S., as is expected.

We also discussed the USDA’s progress on farm program implementation and whether the “safety net” will be strong enough to support row crop farmers through a period of low commodity prices.  Finally, we asked the Secretary if he was able to provide input on the final Renewable Fuels Standard rule and how the volume requirements in that rule might impact future expansion of the biofuels industry.

AUDIO: Tom Vilsack (9:21 MP3)



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