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NLPA News Brief
February 22, 2017
Livestock and Ag Credit News

Nebraska Ag Producers Face Stressful Loan Renewal Season

Drovers, 02/17/17—More than 77 percent of Nebraska producers are concerned that they may not be able to obtain operating capital in 2017, according to the 2016 Farm Financial Health Survey conducted by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln's Department of Agricultural Economics.

Nebraska Extension is increasing its efforts to help producers, who rely on annual operating notes to finance day–to–day needs such as seed, chemicals, fertilizer, feed and utilities.

"Demand is on the rise for operating loans, which is leading to some difficult conversations between producers and their bankers," said Jessica Groskopf, assistant extension educator with Nebraska Extension.

Low commodity prices have resulted in the fourth consecutive year of declining net farm income, or the return that farmers and ranchers get for their input of labor, management and capital. The decline has forced producers to use cash reserves to service debt and to pay for non–farm expenses such as family living that now exceed earnings. This reduces the operation's ability to make debt payments, which makes it more difficult for banks to approve operating loans.

So what can farmers and ranchers do to ensure a smooth farm loan renewal season? Starting the process as soon as possible is critical, Groskopf said.

GIPSA NEWS: 02/15/17

Livestock and Ag Credit News

Crop Livestock Integration: Another Potential Revenue Source

By Taylor Grussing, Drovers, 02/17/17—Crop–livestock integration practices are one way to make better use of what cropland owners have (land), and match it with what livestock owners need (feed). Planting annual forages, such as cover crops, can provide grazing opportunities on crop ground after cash crops have been harvested, resulting in high quality forage for cattle, while also keeping the soil biologically active through the winter. Cover crop mixes can be planted for fall or spring grazing at a range of $30 – $90 per acre (including seed, planting and fertilizer expenses).

Benefits of cover crops include promoting soil heath, soil structure and building soil organic matter levels. Furthermore, it can suppress erosion and weed production, as well as reduce compaction. Research has shown that grazing cover crops can benefit subsequent yields (USDA, 2012) and reduce fertilizer expenses.

Benefits of livestock grazing cover crops include decreasing winter feed costs by extending the grazing season and decreasing the need for stored forage. Cover crops provide high quality feed during a time when pastures are starting to go dormant in the Upper Midwest, which can improve cattle performance and body condition score. Furthermore, livestock return valuable nutrients back to the cropland via manure which will reduce fertilizer and labor application expenses.

The Critical Leg of The Journey From Replacement Heifer to Mature Cow Investigated

By Karla H. Jenkins, High Plains Journal, 02/17/17—As spring approaches, so does calving for most beef cattle producers. Spring also begins the most critical part of the journey for the replacement heifer becoming a cow. A spring calving replacement heifer with a target mature weight of 1,200 pounds is likely weighing about 950 pounds entering the last trimester of pregnancy and would need to gain about 2.0 pounds per day prior to calving even if she was in a moderate body condition.

Producers need to remember that in the last trimester, at least half of that weight gain will be related to fetal growth and not actually contribute to the growth of the heifer herself. Feeding an ad libitum amount of hay containing 52 percent TDN and 8 percent CP along with 3.4 pounds of distillers grains would meet the crude protein needs of this heifer and her rumen undegradable protein needs.

However, this diet is still slightly short on the energy this heifer needs. This could be very concerning if the heifer is thinner than desired and weather conditions are particularly harsh. Blending in some higher quality hay or adding other energy feeds could improve the energy balance for this heifer.

Once the heifer calves and lactation starts both her protein and energy needs will increase substantially. The very early spring calving heifer (February or March) is not likely going to have access to any green grass for a couple of months in most of Nebraska and the upper Midwest.

If this now lactating heifer were fed the previously mentioned hay and 3.4 pounds of distillers grains, she would be well below the energy she requires. This is a critical situation for this cow. This is even more concerning if turn out to green grass is delayed and/or the new mother is thinner than desired.

Farmers May See Little Effect As FDA Implements Restrictions on Antibiotics

By Merritt Melancon, Drovers, 02/15/17—The market demand for organic chicken, beef and pork has been on the rise for several years, so most farmers were prepared for the new restrictions on antibiotics in animal feed that went into effect on Jan. 1.

The Food and Drug Administration rule change – the veterinary feed directive – prohibits farmers from including medically important antibiotics in livestock feed without veterinary oversight. The change will likely have a positive economic impact on farmers who don't currently use these classes of antimicrobials in their animals' feed, said Brent Credille, assistant professor of beef production medicine at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine.

U.S. Department of Agriculture economists project that the small number of livestock producers using antibiotics for growth promotion in 2016 will see their production costs go up by 1 to 3 percent and will see the wholesale prices they receive for their animals go up by 1 percent.

Farmers who don't use antibiotics for growth promotion will see increased revenues. "If you're not using these drugs for production purposes, (you'll) see an increase in production and higher revenues in response to (these changes)," Credille said. "So if we're not using these things, we're going to be OK."

The majority of antibiotics used in feed on cow–calf production today are used to prevent respiratory infections in young calves. Antibiotics are also used to prevent respiratory infections in poultry and swine. They're administered on a case–by–case basis for problems like pink eye and respiratory tract infections — the same reasons they're often prescribed to humans. The FDA already has firm waiting period regulations to allow antibiotics to clear animals' bodies before they can be sent for slaughter to minimize any residue in the meat you buy.

Checkoff Debuts Revamp of Beef U Online Training Program for Supply Chain

High Plains Journal, 02/15/17—The beef checkoff is launching a newly revamped Beef University—or Beef U—a free, online training program focused on the latest information, insights and research on marketing and selling beef. Beef remains one of America's favorite proteins, and with supplies on the rise for 2017, this tool serves as a complement to supply chain staff training aimed at helping capitalize on beef's profit potential.

The revamped Beef U addresses the latest data and industry insights on hot topics in a new condensed, more user–friendly format. Each module can be completed in 15 to 20 minutes and includes a brief quiz at its conclusion. Once a user completes a module, they can access resources related to the topic.

"The new format encourages learner engagement while getting right to the meat of the topics presented," said Buck Wehrbein, a cattle feeder for Mead Cattle Company, LLC and co–chair of the checkoff's innovation subcommittee. "The information presented in this updated site represents the latest industry knowledge, so we encourage everyone, even those who have completed Beef U in the past, to check out these new courses."

NBAF Program Observes Kansas Emergency Response Exercise to Inform Future Planning

Homeland Security's Science & Technology Directorate, via newswise, 02/14/17—The National Bio and Agro–Defense Facility (NBAF) program participated in an animal disease emergency response exercise led by the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA). This four–day event, called "AfterBurn," took place Dec. 19–22, 2016 in Kansas.

AfterBurn was designed by KDA to assess and refine its response plan and response capabilities in the event of an outbreak of a catastrophic animal disease. The event involved more than 200 individuals from the federal government, multiple state and local government entities, as well as academia and industry.

NBAF is the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate's newest laboratory. The $1.25 billion dollar facility is also the federal government's largest infrastructure project in support of bio and agro–defense and construction is well underway. Planned to be operational in 2023, NBAF will enhance the ability to study foreign animal, emerging and zoonotic diseases that threaten U.S. animal agriculture and public health.

The exercise scenario simulated an outbreak of Foot–and–Mouth Disease (FMD) amidst a hypothetical ice storm in southeast Kansas. A highly contagious infectious disease, FMD can decimate populations of cloven–hooved animals like cattle, swine, and sheep, among others and can spread rapidly across borders. The disease has catastrophic implications for animal agriculture, which is the largest economic driver in Kansas. A recent estimate of the projected impact of an FMD outbreak over eight Midwestern states suggests livestock producer, consumer, and government losses could reach nearly $200 billion. The last outbreak of FMD in the U.S. occurred in California in 1929.

Extension Specialist Advises Cattle Producers Develop Marketing Plan

WNAX News, (South Dakota) 02/15/17—Even though calving season hasn't gotten underway in full swing, now is a good time for producers to start planning their 2017 marketing strategy. SDSU Extension Risk Business Management Specialist Matt Diersen says for fed cattle, there's the typical seasonal pattern in the cash price and it carries over in the future's price as well.,so it's advisable to use a five year average basis level.

He says for those with feeder cattle, it's important to remember that on the feeders last year the weight class was switched in the feeder cattle futures contract so that needs to be taken into account.

Dierson says for cow calf producers, the calf price has fluctuated quite a bit the past few years so it's important to discount previous high prices and take into account feed costs you're facing now. Listen to 1:22 audio interview HERE.

Global Livestock News

How Innovation Is Driving Australia's Pork Industry

North Queensland Register, 02/16/17—A PIPELINE of products is being developed which will advance Australia's pork industry, while, in some cases, earning income for ongoing and future research and development.

Cooperative Research Centre for High Integrity Australian Pork (Pork CRC) manager, commercialisation and research impact, Charles Rikard–Bell said the industry's pipeline had already delivered products such as the Ridley Sow Enrichment Block, which was commercially launched in October last year, after being showcased at the 2016 Pan Pacific Pork Expo.

"It all comes down to reducing aggression between sows when they are first mixed in groups, which is now common practice in modern Australian pork production, and our sow enrichment blocks are delivering positive, measurable outcomes.

"Excitingly, we are about to commission some promising research into refining the block to suit weaners and finishers, rather than just sows."

Addressing Pork CRC's February commercialisation and adoption committee meeting in Melbourne, Dr Rikard–Bell also highlighted and updated positive developments in his portfolio, including commercialising vaccines for Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae (APP) and swine dysentery, plus diagnostics tests for Lawsonia and swine dysentery.

"All of these technologies have the potential to impact global pig production, particularly our swine dysentery research.

Expanding Irish Beef Production 'A Highly Risky Strategy'

By Amy Forde, AgriLand, 02/16/17—Expanding beef production is a highly risky strategy in the midst of Brexit uncertainty, dismal farm incomes and the threat of looming trade deals, ICSA President, Patrick Kent, has said.

Kent made the comments at the association's AGM and annual conference tonight in the Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise. The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, was also present at the meeting.

'Agriculture in a Post Brexit World' was the theme of the conference and Kent outlined the association's key requirements from the Government on its approach to Brexit.

He stressed the importance of continued tariff free trade between the UK and Ireland due to our unique ties in the agri–food sector and to the mutual benefits accruing. Kent said that this mutual link must be maintained in an effort to dissuade the UK from looking to South America and New Zealand for beef and sheepmeat imports which Ireland currently supplies and relies heavily on.

Global Livestock News

Ag Reacts To Scott Pruitt's Confirmation As EPA Chief

By Nicole Heslip, Brownfield Ag News, 02/17/17—Two Democrats have voted with Republicans to confirm the nomination of Scott Pruitt as the nation's new EPA Administrator. Ranking Senate Ag Committee leader Debbie Stabenow of Michigan says she voted against the former Oklahoma Attorney General because she's concerned with the direction EPA could take under his leadership with his long history of opposing federal environmental programs as well as the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The Renewable Fuels Association and the American Coalition for Ethanol say they look forward to working with Pruitt – to keep the Renewable Fuels Standard in place and to remove volatility restrictions that have discouraged market acceptance of higher level ethanol blends like E15.

The National Pork Producers Council says the former Oklahoma Attorney General has demonstrated that he knows how to strike a balance between protecting the environment and protecting the livelihoods of farmers and business owners.

USDA: Long–Term Agricultural Projections

USDA News Release, 02/16/17—USDA's long–term agricultural projections are a departmental consensus on a long run representative scenario for the agricultural sector for the next decade. The projections are based on specific assumptions about macroeconomic conditions, policy, weather, and international developments, with no domestic or external shocks to global agricultural markets. These projections are issued every year in February.

Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income. The projections identify major forces and uncertainties affecting future agricultural markets; prospects for long–term global economic growth, agricultural production, consumption, and trade; and U.S. exports of major farm commodities and future price movements.

The projections can also be used to analyze impacts of alternative policy scenarios.

The World Agricultural Outlook Board chairs an Interagency Agricultural Projections Committee to coordinate this activity and improve the quality and consistency of projections. Other agencies involved with the long–term projections analysis and review include the Economic Research Service; the Farm Service Agency; the Foreign Agricultural Service; the Office of the Chief Economist; the Office of Budget and Program Analysis; the Risk Management Agency; the Agricultural Marketing Service; the Natural Resources Conservation Service; and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The Economic Research Service has the lead role in preparing the USDA long–term projections report.

The U.S. Livestock Report can be read HERE (PDF).

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