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Koster files egg bill appeal

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Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster and plaintiffs from five other states have filed an appeal in the case of the California egg legislation they are fighting. Last October, a district judge in California tossed out their lawsuit against California’s Proposition Two, which requires eggs produced in California and elsewhere to meet that state’s new enlarged-cage standards for egg laying hens. Koster tells Brownfield Ag News, “The egg case is a very important case. A lot of people have made fun of us for bringing this case and yet, increasingly as egg prices are now soaring because of the acts of the California legislature, they are recognizing that we were right to bring this case.”

In their appeal with the federal 9th district court, Koster, along with Attorneys General in Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Kentucky, and, Iowa’s Governor Terry Branstad, argued that Californians consume more than 9-Billion eggs per year, nearly half of them produced by caged hens in other states, and, despite its place among the top five producers, California is a net importer of eggs. They argue that the California law violates interstate commerce by forcing other states to comply with California’s rigid production standards.

The state of Utah has filed an amicus brief – in support of the other states’ lawsuit and subsequent appeal.

Appellants Brief MO v Harris FILED

Utah Amicus MO v Harris [FILED]

 

 

 

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Work to do before planting begins

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There’s work to do BEFORE planting begins.

Shaun Casteel, Extension soybean specialist at Purdue University says work begins by looking back at where things ended in 2014.

“Corn yields were great, exceptional, harvest was later than normal, we got frozen soils so we didn’t get fertilizer applied and we didn’t get tillage on a lot of this ground,” Casteel said. “So, that’s at the top of my mind as we enter spring, what can we do to prep this ground for a good soybean crop.”

And with lower commodity prices, farmers are paying close attention to the bottom line, but Casteel says you might want to think twice before cutting corners when it comes to fertilizer.

“We need to make sure we have enough soil fertility to make that decision,” the Extension soybean specialist said. “Most cases I’d say you still need to apply it, I know windows are tight in the spring, but boy if you’re short on phosphorus and potassium in beans you’re going to be short on yield.”

Casteel was on the program at the Conservation Tillage Expo held at Ohio Northern University.

Audio: Shaun Casteel, Extension soybean specialist, Purdue University

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On-Farm Network ‘a trusted, credible resource’

On-Farm Network Dir. Pat Reeg at the Iowa Soybean Association Research Conference, Feb. 19, 2015, Ames, Iowa.The Iowa Soybean Association’s On-Farm Network collects data in the process of conducting research that growers can use. Farmers and agronomists working with the On-Farm Network use precision agriculture and technology to determine of the right combinations of inputs and practices that improve efficiency, profitability and environmental stewardship.

On-Farm Network Director Pat Reeg tells Brownfield Ag News that there are improved ways to get research results to those who need it.

“Now we’ve got this online database that allows us to take all the research we’ve done over the years, put it in one site, and farmers and CCAs and agronomists and retailers can all go in and they can see the results of these trials that are focused on products and management practices,” said Reeg.

AUDIO: Pat Reeg (9 min. MP3)

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Helping producers prepare for disease threats

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Over the next 5 years, the pork checkoff will invest $15 million to better prepare the nation’s pork producers in the fight against swine diseases.

Dr. Paul Sundberg, vice president of science and technology with the National Pork Board says the Swine Health Information Center will have three functions.  It will monitor swine diseases around the globe and understand the risk of entering the US, research and diagnostics, and to provide anonymous infrastructure for producers to share information.

“The ability to securely, and I want to emphasize the word securely, and confidentially share disease information is really the key to an effective and quick response to an outbreak of a disease,” he says.

While Sundbreg hopes producers don’t have to use the Center, he says the goal is to have it up and running by this summer.

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End users want to know if soybeans are grown sustainably

Heath Ellison at the ISA Research Conference, Ames, Feb. 19, 2015.Sustainability is talked about more frequently regarding the production of food.  “What’s interesting is where we’re hearing it from,” said Heath Ellison with the Iowa Soybean Association.  “We’re hearing it from end users, we’re hearing it from our food processing companies, we’re hearing it from the consumers buying products that contain soy and our protein end users.”  They’re requesting that the industry look at sustainability.

Growers also benefit from sustainable production of soybeans. “Obviously if you’re being sustainable it’s good for your bottom line,” said Ellison, “it’s good for the long-term viability of your business.”

AUDIO: Heath Ellison (6 min. MP3)

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Soybean research benefits growers in many states

Ed Anderson, Iowa Soybean Association, at the organization's research conference, Ames, Iowa, Feb. 19, 2015.The Iowa Soybean Association’s ongoing research includes on-farm replicated strip trials, according to Ed Anderson of the ISA, who says the research is done to evaluate cropping systems, agronomics and products and practices in the field with farmers as the participants.  The goal of the research, he says, is multifaceted.

“We’re focused primarily on agronomics and cropping systems, management practices and conservation practices for sustainability and productivity,” Anderson told Brownfield Ag News.

The Iowa Soybean Association also works on productivity research with Iowa State University and institutions in other states.  “We’re really trying to build programs that focus on yield, on germplasm improvement,” said Anderson.

AUDIO: Ed Anderson (5 min. MP3)

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Bearish fundamentals pressure wheat

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Soybeans were lower on fund and technical selling. The truck strike in Brazil has been suspended until next week, so supplies are heading to ports and fuel is moving to farms. Past that – the trade continues to watch crop weather around South America. Weekly export numbers were solid, with unknown and China the big buyers. Soybean meal was mostly lower, all except lightly traded March, and bean oil was down, following the lead of beans.

Corn was higher on fund and technical buying. It was a good week for corn export sales and a better week for shipments than we’ve seen in a while. Demand remains strong and producer selling is light, but there’s plenty of corn available. Ethanol futures were mixed. Unknown destinations bought 108,000 tons of 2015/16 U.S. grain sorghum.

The wheat complex was lower on fund and technical selling. Weekly export numbers were neutral to bearish with good sales and slow physical shipments. In any event, the dollar was mostly higher and the fundamentals remain bearish. Japan bought 54,600 tons of U.S. food wheat, along with 27,500 tons from Australia and 24,000 tons from Canada. Jordan picked up 50,000 tons of optional origin wheat and South Korea purchased 40,000 tons of optional origin feed wheat.

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Latham says ag’s voice diminished in Congress

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A longtime Iowa Congressman says agriculture is losing its voice in Congress. Tom Latham served in the House from 1995 to 2014 and says, “In the Senate, every senator has agriculture in their state. But today you have fewer and fewer people that represent ag districts. In Iowa we have at least two districts where you wouldn’t have to know anything – and some don’t – about agriculture.”

Latham says he believes some in Washington are out of touch with agriculture and uses employment statistics at a major ag equipment company as an example. “When they think about agriculture, they’re thinking about how many jobs are going to be lost or gained at John Deere,” Latham says, “The number of farmers obviously are down, but certainly people who know…have any kind of understanding of agriculture is greatly diminished.”

Latham, when asked about what farmers can do about the problem, he said, “Make your voices heard. And this group here can have an enormous impact as far as not just talking to your producers out there because most of those people understand the challenges we have. But to also get that message out to the general public the great job, the unbelievable job that a small number of people do to produce the food and fiber that we need in this country.”

Latham served in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2014. He was part of the Bayer CropScience Ag Issues Forum at the 2015 Commodity Classic in Phoenix.

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Just a few bids on the cattle

Feedlot country was at a standstill on Thursday afternoon with only a few starter bids evident in Kansas at 157.00 live, Nebraska from 250.00 to 254.00, and Iowa at 254.00. Bids are well below the asking prices of 162.00 plus in the South and 255.00 to 260.00 in the North. Significant business appears to be delayed until sometime on Friday. The kill totaled 108,000 head, even with last week, but 2,000 head less than 2014.

Boxed beef cutout values were firm on choice, weak on select on light to moderate demand and offerings. Choice beef 249.20 up .62, select 246.58 down .65.

Live cattle contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange settled 32 points higher to 77 lower in slow trade volume. The uneven tone appeared to be tied to a combination of residual buying and profit taking. There seemed to be nervousness on both sides prior to the development of the cash cattle trade. April was down .77 at 153.27, and June was .30 lower at 146.02.

Feeder cattle ended the session mostly 82 to 190 points higher. Spot March was lower checked by the discount of the cash index, but most contracts extended the gains scored on Wednesday. Feeders were supported by follow-through buying and better commercial buying interest. March settled .65 lower at 206.57, but April was up 1.00 at 205.37.

Feeder cattle receipts at the Huss Platte Valley Auction in Nebraska totaled 3121 head. Compared to last week’s sale, steers and heifers over 600 pounds sold 7.00 higher. Demand was good from an average size crowd of buyers. Nearly 96% of the run weighed over 600 pounds. Feeder steers averaging 819 pounds traded at 205.02 per hundredweight. 817 pound heifers averaged 190.12.

Lean hogs settled 87 to 150 points lower, giving back much of Wednesday’s rally. Summer contracts were especially clobbered with triple digit losses. There seems to be more talk about supply worries, ideas that tonnage through the entire year could be compounded by higher slaughter rates and heavier carcass weights. The midday pork carcass value was sharply lower. April was down 1.17 at 66.82. May was also down 1.17 at 77.45.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade closed .05 higher at 64.94 weighted average on a carcass basis, the West was also up .05 at 64.92, and the East was not reported. Missouri direct base carcass meat price closed steady from 57.00 to 62.00. Midwest hogs on a live basis were steady from 40.00 to 46.00.

The pork carcass cutout value was down 1.71 FOB plant at 68.27. All primal cuts were lower.

For the week ending February 28, Iowa barrows and gilts averaged 284.2 pounds, 0.4 pounds lighter than the previous week, only 2.4 pounds heavier than 2014.

The Thursday hog kill was estimated by USDA at 408,000 head, down 15,000 from last week and 9,000 less than 2014.

 

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Closing Grain and Livestock Futures: March 5, 2015

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Mar. corn closed at $3.82 and 3/4, up 1 and 1/4 cents
Mar. soybeans closed at $9.79 and 1/4, down 9 and 3/4 cents
Mar. soybean meal closed at $334.40, up 30 cents
Mar. soybean oil closed at 31.43, down 60 points
Mar. wheat closed at $4.81 and 1/4, down 12 and 1/4 cents
Apr. live cattle closed at $153.27, down 77 cents
Apr. lean hogs closed at $66.82, down $1.17
Apr. crude oil closed at $50.76, down 77 cents
May cotton closed at 63.23, down 37 points
May rice closed at $10.35, down 11 and 1/2 cents
Mar. Class III milk closed at $15.45, down 1 cent
Apr. gold closed at $1,196.20, down $4.70
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 18,135.72, up 38.82 points

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Ag leaders seek time on dietary guidelines

Top Story IconThe head of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee has sent a letter about concerns over recommended dietary guidelines being considered by Ag Secretary Ton Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to the secretaries.

A government advisory committee has recommended less consumption of red and processed meats – and for the first time took environmental sustainability into consideration in making that recommendation.

House Ag subcommittee leaders Jackie Walorski of Indiana and David Rouzer of North Carolina have also signed Chairman Mike Conaway’s letter which says that consideration goes beyond the scope of the dietary guidelines committee.

They are asking for a longer public comment period on the recommendations, from 45 days to 120 days.

Last month, Vilsack said there a lot of issues that have to be resolved and that the dietary guidelines are “supposed to be driven by science and it needs to be driven by science.”

 

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U.S., Canada livestock herds increase

 

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According to a joint report by the USDA and Statistics Canada, cattle, hog, and sheep inventories in the U.S. and Canada were larger than the previous year’s levels, indicating herd expansion following a period of contraction.

For hogs, the total U.S. and Canadian herd for December 2014 was 79.215 million head, up 2% on the year. The breeding herd grew 3% to 7.189 million head and market hogs were up 2% at 72.027 million, with the semi-annual pig crop increasing by 1% to 72.513 million head.

For cattle, all cattle and calves in the U.S. and Canada on January 1st, 2015 were 101.715 million head, 1% more than on January 1st, 2014. All cows and heifers that have calved were 43.781 million head, also up 1% from last year.

For sheep and lambs, the total inventory at the start of the year was 61.139 million head, a little bit more than last year, with the breeding herd up modestly to 4.583 million head and the market inventory down slightly to 1.556 million head.

The next set of combined U.S. and Canadian livestock numbers is out August 20th.

 

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Cash cheese closes firm

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In the spot dairy market Thursday, cash cheese was modestly higher. Barrels were up a quarter cent at $1.495. The last bid unfilled was for one load at the closing price. Blocks were a penny higher at $1.56. There were two loads sold, one each at $1.5525 and $1.56. The last offer uncovered was for one load at $1.565.

AA butter was unchanged at $1.55. The last offer uncovered was for one load at $1.78.

Grade A nonfat dry milk was down five cents at $1.05. There were six loads sold, all at that price.

Class three milk futures at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange were mostly lower, with March down $.01 at $15.45, April up $.02 at $15.42, and May $.09 lower at $15.51.

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Pork profits to drop in 2015

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A year ago the hog market saw record high prices.

Purdue ag economist Chris Hurt says concerns about how the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus would affect production drove the hog market higher. “There were rumors of how bad that disease was – and it certainly was bad,” he says. “But there was talk a year ago at this time that up to 20 percent of all baby pigs would not survive in 2014.”

Hurt tells Brownfield that uncertainty raised concern for pork buyers. “We saw short supplies and weren’t sure how much,” he says. “But just a lot of uncertainty. That lead us to record high prices. Live prices got to $100 per hundred weight. And then what we saw was pork production only decline 2 percent last year.

Which, he says, has caused pork prices to drop drastically in recent months.

At the start of the start of 2015, profits were expected to be around $25 per head – but his updated calculations have that number closer to the $8 to $10 per head range.

 

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Pork Industry Forum underway in Texas

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The annual business meeting of the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council gets underway today in Texas.

The National Pork Industry Forum is a grass-roots opportunity for pork producers from around the country to bring forth the issues and concerns they have.

Cindy Cunningham, spokesperson for the National Pork Board says there are some big issues for pork producers are talking about this year.  “We’ll be focusing on the common industry audit,” she says.  “We’ll be making sure producers have access to the latest information and technology when it comes to fighting diseases like PEDv or others that may be out there.”

And she says demand is also a hot topic this year.  “Most importantly we’re going to be talking about how we can enlarge the consumer demand for pork both domestically and in the international marketplace,” she says.

The National Pork Industry Forum runs through Saturday.

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Midday cash livestock prices

Cattle country is slow to start on Thursday with just a few scattered bids of 157.00 live, and 250.00 dressed. Packer inquiry is expected to improve as the day goes on. Due to the great difference between asking prices and bids, packers and feedlot managers may not arrive at a price until sometime on Friday. Asking prices are around 162.00 to 163.00 in the South, and 255.00 to 260.00 in the North.

Boxed beef cutout values are firm in the morning report with choice 248.91 up .33, and select 247.46, .23 higher.

Feeder cattle receipts at the Huss Platte Valley Auction in Nebraska totaled 3121 head. Compared to last week’s sale, steers and heifers over 600 pounds sold 7.00 higher. Demand was good from an average size crowd of buyers. Nearly 96% of the run weighed over 600 pounds. Feeder steers averaging 819 pounds traded at 205.02 per hundredweight. 817 pound heifers averaged 190.12.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade opened .41 lower, the West is down .39 with both at 64.48 weighted average on a carcass basis. The National market is 1.02 lower at 63.43. Missouri direct base carcass meat price is steady from 57.00 to 62.00. Midwest hogs on a live base are steady from 40.00 to 46.00 in a light test.

Pork carcass cutout values continue their up and down moves on Thursday, down 1.49 at 68.49 FOB plant.

For the week ending February 28, Iowa barrows and gilts averaged 284.2 pounds, 0.4 pounds lighter than the previous week, only 2.4 pounds heavier than 2014.

Cash hogs definitely moved easier at midweek. Mandatory reported both lower dressed sales and a significant hike in trade volume, never a good combination.

 

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Big swing in ethanol profitability

Chuck Woodside

Chuck Woodside

2014 was a very profitable year for the ethanol industry.  But 2015 is off to a bit of a rough start.  Ethanol production margins have fallen sharply in recent months, mainly due to overproduction and the big drop in the price of oil.

Chuck Woodside, CEO of Minden, Nebraska-based KAAPA Ethanol, says the industry is in an overbuilt situation and will have to balance supply and demand.  We visited with Woodside at the Nebraska Governor’s Ag Conference in Kearney.

AUDIO: Chuck Woodside

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Pork exports hit marketing year high

 

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USDA reports corn, soybean, soybean product, and wheat export sales for the week ending February 26 were within pre-report estimates. Physical shipments of corn and soybeans were above what’s needed weekly to meet USDA projections for the 2014/15 marketing year, but wheat fell short of its mark.

Wheat came out at 469,600 tons (17.3 million bushels), up 43% from the week ending February 19 and 34% higher than the four week average. Egypt picked up 175,000 tons and Mexico bought 55,700 tons. For the 2014/15 marketing year, wheat sales are 801.3 million bushels, compared to 1.052 billion in 2013/14. Sales of 38,000 tons (1.4 million bushels) for 2015/16 delivery were mainly to Nigeria (24,000 tons).

Corn was reported at 828,100 tons (32.6 million bushels), 16% more than the previous week, but 5% less than the four week average. Saudi Arabia purchased 285,300 tons and Japan picked up 262,000 tons, but unknown destinations canceled on 301,900 tons. At this point in the marketing year, corn sales are 1.403 billion bushels, compared to 1.478 billion this time last year. Sales of 158,700 tons (6.2 million bushels) for 2015/16 delivery were to Japan (157,400 tons) and unknown destinations (1,300 tons).

Soybeans were pegged at 499,500 tons (18.4 million bushels), 9% above the week before, but 8% below the four week average. Unknown destinations bought 136,700 tons and China purchased 121,300 tons. So far this marketing year, soybean sales are 1.750 billion bushels, compared to 1.623 billion a year ago. Sales of 1,700 tons (100,000 tons) for 2015/16 delivery were to Japan.

Soybean meal came out at 130,200 tons, a big increase from the prior week, but a 35% decrease from the four week average. Venezuela picked up 65,000 tons and Peru bought 38,200 tons, while unknown destinations canceled on 22,800 tons. Cumulative soybean meal sales for the current marketing year are 8,978,000 tons, compared to 7,641,900 last year. Sales of 28,400 tons for 2015/16 delivery were to Canada (27,500 tons) and Nicaragua (900 tons).

Soybean oil was reported at 5,600 tons, down 61% from the previous week and 60% lower than the four week average. Mexico purchased 2,500 tons and Peru picked up 1,700 tons. 2014/15 soybean oil sales are 579,000 tons, compared to 549,500 in 2013/14.

Net beef sales totaled 8,600 tons, 38% less than the week before and 34% under the four week average. The listed buyers were Japan (2,300 tons), South Korea (1,900 tons), Mexico (1,700 tons), Hong Kong (1,400 tons), and Canada (800 tons).

Net pork sales were a marketing year high at 30,900 tons, an increase of 62% on the week and 63% more than the four week average. The reported purchasers were Mexico (10,600 tons), South Korea (7,200 tons), China (5,800 tons), Japan (4,900 tons), and Colombia (900 tons). Cancellations were made by Hong Kong (500 tons) and Australia (300 tons).

 

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Ottawa Co. Ohio elects first female SWCD supervisor

Constance Sandwisch says being the first female Supervisor elected to the Ottawa County Ohio Soil and Water Conservation District Board is an honor and she’s excited to serve.

“Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I can’t contribute to a board,” Sandwisch said. “With my experience with my husband farming and some of the conservation programs that he has implemented I felt that I could add to the board.

Sandwisch says as a new Supervisor, attending her first Ohio Federation of SWCD’s annual meeting this week was a good learning experience.

“And I wanted to experience the program and the sessions that hopefully I can take back information to implement new things to our county,” said Sandwisch.

Just from the standpoint of learning the scope of what the Ottawa County SWCD has to offer, Constance says serving as a District Supervisor has already exceeded her expectations,

Audio: Constance Sandwisch, Ottawa County Ohio

 

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Building an organic school and restaurant business

Greg and Mary Reynolds of Minnesota were named Organic Farmers of the Year by the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). What started out as a garden has evolved into a certified organic farm which sells to restaurants and schools in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.  Greg talks about how the business works.

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