December 30, 2008
America's Heartland is a television program that focuses on America's farmers and ranchers and how they bring food, fuel and fiber to the world.
Earlier this year, the Tiemann's took a trip to Taiwan and China to film parts of the episode "Journey of the Corn". It focuses on foreign markets for corn, distillers grains and PLA, the corn-based material made in Blair that is used in everything from plasticware to clothing. One stop included a visit to a 7-Eleven (yes...the quick shop!), where the Slurpee cups are made from PLA - from Nebraska corn. (Stores in Taiwan will sell upwards of 160,000 Slurpees - in their biodegradable cups - a day!)
The film crew also spent time in Seward this summer - visiting the Tiemann's farm near Seward and also at Lori’s off-farm job at a local bank. Alan is a member of the Nebraska Corn Board.
The photo of the Tiemann's above was taken at a research dairy farm in China.
December 29, 2008
The Nebraska Corn Growers presented its annual Golden Ear award to Don McCabe (pictured), editor of Nebraska Farmer. The Golden Ear Award is presented by NeCGA to recognize and appreciate an individual’s contribution to agriculture. McCabe is a northeast Nebraska native, where he grew up on a diversified crops and livestock farm. He spent four years in the US Navy before studying journalism at the University of Nebraska. After graduating in 1975, he went to work for the York News-Times, and in 1977 he joined the Nebraska Farmer as associate editor.
In the 31 years since, McCabe has covered an incredible number of events, conducted countless interviews and traveled Nebraska from corner to corner many times. In 1988, he was named managing editor of the Nebraska Farmer and in 2003 he was named editor. He has been recognized by his peers and many agriculture organizations for his efforts, and in 2007 he was named to the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement.
The Nebraska Corn Board presented awards to three Nebraskans during the Nebraska Ag Classic. These include:
- Greg Ibach, of Sumner, who received the annual Ag Achievement Award. Ibach, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, was recognized for his ag industry leadership, and his continual support of the Nebraska Corn Board’s mission and activities. The Ag Achievement Award is given annually to an individual who demonstrates vision, commitment and a deep understanding of the value of agriculture and the corn checkoff to the state of Nebraska.
- Ken Rahjes, network coordinator on KRVN, received the Nebraska Corn Board's annual Media Award. Rahjes can be heard nearly every weekday on KRVN, KTIC and KNEB.
- Phil High, a farmer in the Bertrand area, received the Nebraska Corn Board's annual Ethanol Award. High has been an advocate and promoter of ethanol for many years. His efforts led to the development of AmeriFuels/Renewable Fuels Technology LLC, a company that develops and promotes usage of stationary irrigation motors that run on pure ethanol and works to market and deliver the ethanol needed for the engines.
- The 2007-2008 Livestock Industry Award was presented to Michael Kelsey, executive vice-president of the Nebraska Cattlemen. Kelsey worked to represent Nebraska cattle producers and also to bring the various commodity organization closer together. He was also instrumental in helping organize the first of its kind, joint Washington, DC, lobbying efforts by the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Cattlemen.
- Craid Uden, manager of Darr Feedlot at Cozad, was presented the 2008-2009 Livestock Industry award. Uden has taken a 4,000 head feedlot and helped transform it into a 45,000 head operation. He's also a propoant of distillers grains (see this post).
December 26, 2008
Jagels noted that Jamison believes that for animal agriculture to be successful in the future, we need to help consumers manage their conflicting emotions that come from wanting one animal at the center of their plate and another as the center of their life – as their pet. Jamison believes we need to lead with a moral argument - that the work we do in raising food animals is morally right.
For a related post, which includes links to more details and reports, click here.
December 24, 2008
The article includes some nuggets on a consumer survey that focuses on food costs, food safety issues and the overall confidence in the U.S. food system. Arnot also addressed activists activities towards animal production and modern farming.
Here are a few lines from Lori's article, which you can view in full here.
Agriculture has changed dramatically in the past 50 years, with new technologies; consolidation in production, processing and retailing; and closer ties between links in the food chain. However, people in agriculture have failed to keep consumers informed of and confident in modern methods to grow and process food.
Arnot said many consumers still want "farm" to mean a barn, a few cows and a tilted silo.
"Comparing modern farming with that image is like comparing today’s automobile to a '57 Chevy." He said it's a beautiful car, but has no power steering, power brakes, air conditioning or emission controls, and gets poor gas mileage. "I don’t want to drive a ’57 Chevy."
...And we shouldn't expect agriculture producers to do so, either.
For a related post, click here.
December 23, 2008
ACRE provides a new, optional risk management tool for farmers. It delivers payments to producers facing losses in crop revenue caused by adverse weather conditions and declining prices. In return, program participants accept a reduction in Loan Deficiency Program rates and a decrease of 20 percent in direct payments.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced some of the details about the ACRE program late last week - and corn grower organizations are generally supportive of the decisions USDA made.
A key decision was that USDA will use market prices for 2007 and 2008 as the average price for the 2009 crop. There was some discussion that the average price would be based off 2006 and 2007. The average price in 2006 (at $3.04) is currently below what is expected for 2008 (a USDA estimated range of $3.65-4.35). The average price in 2007 was $4.20.
Corn growers believed the 2006 price would be too low based on current crop prices and trends and that it made more sense to base ACRE off the most current crop years. USDA agreed.
For more information, check out USDA’s announcement or this article by Dan Looker of Successful Farming.
National Corn Growers Association president Bob Dickey said NCGA was pleased with the announcement. "This is a very important piece of the 2008 farm bill to NCGA members, especially during a time of uncertainty and volatile commodity markets," he said. Dickey, of Laurel, Nebraska, is also a member of the Nebraska Corn Board.
"Since enactment of the legislation, NCGA has worked closely with USDA on the 2008 farm bill," he said. "On behalf of our nation's corn growers, I would like to extend our gratitude to Secretary Schafer and the employees at USDA for their thorough consideration of our members' views and concerns regarding ACRE. We are pleased with the outcome of the ACRE program and look forward to the implementation of the other farm bill programs."
December 22, 2008
The National Corn Growers Association has announced the winners for its annual corn yield contest. One Nebraskan made the list - a grower from Louisville, NE, who had a yield of 288.6893 bushels per acre on a no till/strip till non-irrigated plot.NCGA said corn growers "shattered yield records" this year - despite assorted weather problems, including a late start. There were 6,725 entries in this year's contest, a new record and double the entries in 2006 - and several entrants scored yields of more than double the estimated national average (that's more than double 153.8 bu/acre).
According to NCGA, the 24 national winners in eight production categories had verified yields averaging more than 310 bushels per acre. In this year’s contest, 19 entrants harvested yields of 300 bushels or more per acre.
While there is no overall winner in the contest due to the variety of growing climates and methods, NCGA said national winners with the first, second and third highest yields in each of the eight production categories ranged from 368.2742 to 284.5849 bushels per acre.
For the full report - and a list of winners, click here.
December 19, 2008
December 18, 2008
There has been talk of meat exports slowing, but obviously that didn’t happen for pork, at least not yet. Certainly that is good news for pork producers!
Beef exports were also positive, although the figure was smaller than the summer months. (Maybe more beef in Korea will help over the next few months?)
Here are some of the details, from USMEF’s announcement:
Pork and pork variety meat exports in October totaled 192,940 metric tons (425.4 million pounds) valued at $487 million - a new record for monthly export value. Export volume increased 18 percent over the previous month and trails only May and June of 2008 for most pork exported in a single month. For January through October, exports were up 67 percent to 1.7 million metric tons (3.8 billion pounds), with value surpassing $4.1 billion.
The story for U.S. beef also remains positive. Although smaller than the summer peak, beef plus beef variety meat exports were relatively strong in October, exceeding October 2007 volume levels by 16 percent. U.S. beef and variety meat exports for the month reached 89,205 metric tons (196.7 million pounds) valued at $348.3 million, exceeding year-ago export value totals by 31.4 percent. January through October beef exports, including variety meat, increased 31 percent to 840,121 metric tons (1.8 billion pounds), with value surpassing $3.1 billion, an increase of 43 percent.
December 17, 2008
OPEC has announced cuts before. Back in September, remember, the cartel decided to cut production in an attempt to keep oil at $100. OPEC was really in a panic by October, when prices fell below $70 for the first time in 14 months. Oil is now close to $40, and folks are getting change back from a $20 when filling up the car. Big Oil doesn't like that!
From one of today's reports: Oil prices have fallen rapidly in recent months due to "the repercussions of the financial crisis," said OPEC's President Chakib Khelil. "We are in a very deteriorating environment," he said.
All told, the new cuts will bring oil production down a total of 4.2 million barrels per day from September.
OPEC's goal, according to Khelil is to have oil "at least" in the $70-80 range. If that doesn't happen, more cuts will come. Here's his quote from the CNN article: "If you are not surprised [by the cuts], then we have to do something about it," he said.
Should the global economy begin to improve, oil demand may increase...and combined with OPEC's cutbacks, prices could take a serious jump (oil is down today, despite the cartel's announcement). Certainly nobody believes we've seen the last of $100 oil. This is why we can't falter on the goal to increase renewable fuels in this country - from ethanol to biodiesel. Stopping what we started now would be disastrous...we'd be back to zero when the bulls begin to run in the oil markets again - or worse. (Remember?)
December 16, 2008
Gibson, whose group helped put together TexasPriceCheck.com, made many good points - including that food prices went up with oil/energy costs but have not come down as these costs dropped. He also noted that the Grocery Gang's campaign to place the blame for its price increases on corn and ethanol was simply off base.
Here is his conclusion:
There is no way that our country can achieve its goal of energy independence without increasing ethanol production. The low price being paid for corn is bad news for farmers, some of whom will not be able to cover their production costs. But it proves we have enough corn for food and for ethanol to reduce foreign oil imports. Now we just have to wait for the big food manufacturers to give consumers a break at the grocery checkout line instead of pocketing larger profits.
Interestingly enough, a new set of consumer price figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics came out this week. It noted that food prices increased 0.2 percent in November - the smallest increase this year. (Gas dropped another 29.5 percent in November.) The report noted that the index for meat, poultry, fish and eggs turned down in November - for the first time since February - falling 0.7 percent.
December 15, 2008
It calls this "total factor productivity" (TFP) - or the difference between the growth in ag output and growth in inputs. A chart from the report is below. It shows a dramatic rise in output while inputs have remained flat.
The opening paragraph of the ERS report notes (emphasis added):
U.S. agriculture relies almost entirely on productivity growth, primarily from innovation and changes in technology, to raise output. Total production nearly tripled between 1948 and 2004, while land in agriculture fell by one-quarter and labor declined by three-quarters. Because of high productivity growth, agricultural commodity prices rose at less than half the rate of economy-wide prices over those 56 years.
That says a lot, doesn’t it? After all, there is no more land now than in the ‘40s, and it is a safe bet there won’t be more land in the future, either.
The ERS report also led to a very good piece by Morton Sosland over at Food Business News (they also publish Milling and Baking News and Meat and Poultry). You can find that article here.
Sosland concludes his article with this (emphasis added):
On balance, the ERS declares, "There can be little doubt that productivity growth has been the engine of economic growth in post-World War II agriculture." The same may be said about the food industry whose growth obviously has been fueled by the ability of agriculture to keep pace with expanding demand. All too often the food industry neglects this long-term perspective where its outlook is tied so closely to the ability of American agriculture to innovate and to embrace promising technology. This depends on uninterrupted investing in research aimed quite specifically at finding the technology and the innovations that will promise continued amazing growth in the output of American agriculture.
December 11, 2008
Yet ending stocks for the 2008-09 marketing year jumped 350 million bushels to 1.47 billion. That’s a pretty big change (+31 percent from November's 1.12 billion).
So what changed?
Well, feed use increased 50 million bushels - but that was overshadowed by the decrease in corn use for ethanol (lowered 300 million bushels to 3.7 billion) and corn for exports (lowered 100 million bushels to 1.8 billion).
USDA reduced corn for ethanol for a couple of reasons. Oil and gas prices were very high last year so fuel blenders had a big incentive to include ethanol in all the gas they could, as ethanol was cheaper by comparison. Now that oil/gas prices have fallen (quite dramatically), that "dollars and cents" incentive to blend beyond what the Renewable Fuels Standard requires has lessened. Add to that delayed plant openings, temporary shut downs and the like and it is clear corn use for ethanol would shrink.
USDA also lowered corn for exports due to "strong competition" from larger foreign grain supplies and the slow pace of exports to date. A lot of grain was produced globally in the past year in response to higher prices, and demand is soft due to economic concerns. In fact, USDA projected world corn ending stocks for 2008-09 at 123.8 million metric tons - up from November’s estimate of 110.12 million tons.
All of the data, and lower prices of late, led USDA to lower the range for the average farm price of corn to $3.65-4.35. This is down from $4.00-4.80 in November and $5-6 in September...in other words, the average estimated value of the crop has dropped $18 billion since September. The average of the price range for this year - $4 - is also lower than last year's $4.20 average. This, too, is a fairly dramatic change from where we were six months ago. Incredible, actually.
For the full supply/demand report, click here.
December 10, 2008
Like in years past, the Ag Classic takes place at the Holiday Inn in Kearney.
The annual meeting of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association is Tuesday (Dec. 16). It runs from 8 to 11:30 am. Rick Tollman, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association, will be on hand for a keynote address during the annual meeting. All interested persons are invited to attend.
The Nebraska Corn Board will hold its annual listening session that same day – from 2 to 4 pm. This is a time for corn growers to come and talk about the Nebraska Corn Board’s activities and interact with board members and staff.
The theme of this year’s Ag Classic is The Challenge of Change, and certainly there have been a lot of changes in agriculture over the last year!
Opening the conference right after lunch on the 16th is Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity. He’s an expert in animal rights groups and their motives and will help producers learn how to deal with this important issue.
Other speakers on Tuesday include Brad Lubben, who will provide information on the new ACRE Program, and Dr. Weldon Sleight, who will discuss some of the things happening to our rural communities, including economic development.
On Wednesday (Dec. 17), a second round of informative speakers are on the agenda, including Mike Krueger, founder and president of The Money Farm, and Jim Wiesemeyer, of Informa Economics’ Washington, D.C. office.
For the full program, click here.
The Ag Classic is sponsored by these groups:
Jamison reports that it is clear attitudes toward food animals have fundamentally changed. We're a nation of pet lovers who see animals not as commodities but as companions.
A post-speech report is available form the Kearney Hub – click here. The Omaha World Herald also did a piece, which is here. Brownfield did an interview, which you can listen to here. Earlier this year he spoke to the Nebraska Ag Relations Council, which included an article on Jamison in its fall 2008 newsletter, which you can download here.
Here is a quote:
When people are willing to spend $7,000 so an aging dachshund can have back surgery, the message that changing livestock housing systems will add two cents to cost-per-pound doesn’t cut it.
What you don’t want to do is buy into the animal rightists' strategy of getting producers to accept small incremental changes in production practices. They’ll increase your costs inch by inch until you lose efficiencies and go out of business.
Jamison said he believes that livestock producers can win the debate over animal care, despite the success of Prop 2 in California. He said animal agriculture needs to let consumers know that it is okay to have pets, and that it is also okay to have food animals - with one animal as the center of their life and another as the center of their plate. He said we need to tell people that animal consumption is both good and right, and that it is nothing to be ashamed about.
Read the articles and listen to the interview. This is an important issue everyone in agriculture needs to grasp.
December 9, 2008
It’s a case of mistaken identity, as the Corn Refiners Association noted in a news release. The USA Today did a good piece, too. Find it here.
CRA pointed out that the report was produced following a symposium that brought together scientific leaders on the topic from a number of backgrounds, including former HFCS critics.
According to Victor Fulgoni, symposium chair, in his summary of the presented papers, "Thus, we now have a clearer picture about HFCS; namely, metabolic responses are similar to sucrose as would be expected from the composition of these two sweeteners."
Audrae Erickson, president of CRA, said many have confused pure "fructose" with "high fructose corn syrup." Yet HFCS never contains just fructose – it contains fructose in a combination with glucose – a combination that is similar to ordinary sugar and honey.
Erickson said some studies that have examined pure fructose - often at abnormally high levels - have been "inappropriately applied" to HFCS. Obviously, this has significant consumer confusion. It’s the stuff urban legends are made of, but in this case, the legend hurts a useful corn product.
Here are some of the conclusions from the report:
- High fructose corn syrup contains the same sugars compositionally as other fructose/glucose-based sweeteners like sucrose (or table sugar), honey or fruit juice concentrates.
- Fructose-glucose sweeteners are metabolized through the same pathways regardless of their dietary source.
- There are no known substantial metabolic or nutritional differences between high fructose corn syrup and sucrose. Both have a composition of approximately equal parts fructose and glucose.
- High fructose corn syrup and sucrose offer equivalent sweetness and both contain 4 calories per gram.
- From 1970-2005, caloric intake in the United States increased by 24%. This was not due to a disproportionate increase in added sugars (including HFCS), but rather an overall increase in calories from all food sources including fats and all other nutrient groups.
- Per capita consumption of high fructose corn syrup has declined in the United States in recent years, but obesity rates continue to rise.
- High fructose corn syrup accounts for about one-half of sweetener use in the United States but only 8% worldwide, yet obesity rates are climbing in countries that use little or no high fructose corn syrup. Sugar remains the predominant global sweetener.
Check out these previous posts:
December 8, 2008
He noted that ethanol is one of the most successful alternative energy projects ever launched - and has taken a 6 percent market share away from oil. That's keeping jobs and money in the U.S. He also reported that Nebraska has a $3 billion ethanol business - and is one of the best economic engines rural America has ever seen.
Although a shakeout and reorganization is and will continue happening within the ethanol industry, Jenkins said some producers are currently in the black - and that a vast majority of plants will make it through. (He makes a few predictions near the end of the report.)
To listen to the report, click here.
You can read the article by clicking here.
Here's a sample:
Well, it's happening again. The attackers of alternative fuels are raising their ugly heads, many want the subsidy abolished for alternative fuels, including ethanol.
Ethanol is good for America, period. There's no debating it.
So why must these so called food/economics experts rant against the subsidy for ethanol, which can help us in our journey to be less dependent on foreign oil - oil that is controlled by people who hate America?
December 7, 2008
Say you're wondering about Nebraska's average corn price over the last decade - or in 1975-76 (it was $2.50 back then).
Or perhaps you're looking for historic Nebraska corn yields - or total production. Or maybe even corn supply/demand numbers over the last 10 years.
Those facts - and more - are available right now thanks to a new page on the Nebraska Corn Board's website. Just click here to see.
Data are gleaned from trusted sources and will be updated regularly.
Here's a list of what's there now:
- Nebraska Carryout and Average Farm Price
- Nebraska Corn Supply - Demand
- Nebraska Planted - Harvested Acres
- Nebraska Production and Yield
- Nebraska Production, Usage and Export
- Nebraska Total Supply
December 5, 2008
December 3, 2008
The U.S. Meat Export Federation made the announcement that E-Mart, Home Plus and Lotte Mart had resumed sales of U.S. beef on November 27 - Thanksgiving Day. The retail chains issued a joint press release announcing the decision and explaining that it is due in part to the slow economy and daily financial difficulties facing Koreans.
The companies said that their sales of U.S. beef will provide value and convenience, as well as help stabilize consumer prices. They added that there is no longer any reason for them not to carry price-competitive U.S. beef.
To help encourage sales, USMEF is providing promotional support to all the chains and believes initial sales at these three major retailers will prompt sales at other retail outlets. Combined, the three retailers have nearly 300 outlets.
USMEF president and CEO Philip Seng noted that although U.S. beef export numbers have been strong since shipments resumed in late July, sales in Korea have been limited to small outlets due to reluctance by major retailers and foodservice operations to sell U.S. beef.
Once the third-largest market for U.S. beef, Korea imported about $816 million in beef and beef variety meats in 2003 - the last year the market was fully open. At the time, this represented about 21 percent of the worldwide value of all U.S. beef exports.
For more, click here. For audio reports, click here.
The book, Using Distillers Grains in the U.S. and International Livestock and Poultry Industries, is available free online by clicking here.
The book was edited by three economic professors at Iowa State - Bruce Babcock, Dermot Hayes and John Lawrence - but contains important contributions by a number of animal scientists, including several from the University of Nebraska.
Chapters cover nutrition and live animal performance of beef cattle, dairy cattle, swine and poultry when fed distillers grains or DDGS. Storage, shelf life and transportation issues are included, as are new technologies on the horizon and challenges remaining in the use of distillers grains. Two chapters discuss the trade value of U.S. distiller grains in small and large international markets.
With economists at the helm, of course there is a chapter on ingredient value and cost. It includes an online calculator program.
Similar information is provided by the Nebraska Corn Board in its collection of corn co-product manuals. For a post on the Storage of Wet Corn Co-Products publication, click here. For copies of that, as well as the Utilization of Corn Co-Products in the Dairy Industry and the Utilization of Corn Co-Products in the Beef Industry, click here. All are a tremendous resource.