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Articles from 2017 In November

Farm sector profitability forecast relatively stable

Nomadsould1/iStock/Thinkstock money growing in soil farm lending

After three consecutive years of decline, farm sector profits are projected to be relatively stable in 2017. Net farm income, a broader measure of profits, is projected to increase $1.7 billion (2.7%) from 2016 to $63.2 billion in 2017, and net cash income is expected to increase $3.7 billion (3.9%) to $96.9 billion, in nominal terms, according to the latest forecast released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service (ERS).

Inflation-adjusted net farm income is projected to be relatively unchanged from 2016, while inflation-adjusted net cash farm income is projected to rise 2.1%. The stronger forecast for growth in net cash farm income is largely due to an additional $2.1 billion (nominal) in cash receipts from the sale of beginning-of-the-year crop inventories. The net cash farm income measure counts those sales as part of current-year income, while the net farm income measure counts the value of those inventories as part of prior-year income.

Overall, cash receipts are projected to increase $8.6 billion (2.4%) in 2017 to $365.1 billion, reflecting a 7.6% increase in animal/animal product receipts. Most animal and animal product prices are expected to rise, and quantities sold are projected to increase as well.

The value of U.S. agricultural sector production is expected to rise $8.7 billion (2.2%) in 2017 to $407.8 billion. An expected increase of $11.3 billion (6.9%) in the value of animals/animal products and $3.3 billion in farm-related income more than offset a predicted $5.9 billion (3.1%) decrease in the value of crop production.

Livestock receipts

In particular, cash receipts for broilers, hogs and cattle/calves are expected to see strong growth in 2017 after posting significant declines in 2016.

Cash receipts are projected to be up $4.1 billion (15.9%) for broilers, up $3.5 billion (10.0%) for milk, up $1.6 billion (8.7%) for hogs and up $3.3 billion (5.2%) for cattle/calves. These gains reflect anticipated increases in both prices and quantities sold.

Total animal/animal product cash receipts are expected to rise $12.4 billion (7.6%) to $175.3 billion in 2017. “This increase reflects strong gains in receipts for meat animals, milk and poultry/eggs,” ERS reported.

Milk receipts are expected to increase $3.5 billion (10%) in 2017, reflecting expected increases in both the price and quantity sold. Cash receipts from cattle and calves are expected to increase $3.3 billion (5.2%) from 2016 as cattle/calf prices and quantities sold rise. Hog prices and quantities sold are both expected to rise in 2017, leading to a forecasted increase in hog cash receipts of $1.6 billion (8.7%).

Broiler receipts are expected to rise $4.1 billion (15.9%) as both prices and quantities sold increase in 2017. Chicken egg receipts are expected to rise $900 million (14.2%) as both egg prices and quantities sold increase in 2017. Turkey receipts are expected to decline $1.3 billion (20.4%) in 2017, reflecting a sharp price drop softened by a marginal increase in quantity sold.


Crop receipts

Crop cash receipts in total are projected to fall $3.8 billion (2%) from 2016 levels to $189.9 billion, largely due to expected declines in prices for some crops. The forecasts for fruit/nut and soybean cash receipts decreased $4.4 billion (15.3%) and $3.2 billion (7.6%), respectively. Partially offsetting these decreases, cash receipts are projected to be up $2.2 billion (37.2%) for cotton and up $1.5 billion (7.8%) for vegetables/melons.

Crop cash receipts — the cash income from crop sales during the 2017 calendar year — are projected to be $189.9 billion, a decrease of $3.8 billion (2.0%) from 2016.

Corn receipts are expected to decline $200 million (0.5%) in 2017 (dropping for the fifth consecutive year) as the U.S. average corn price is expected to drop from 2016 to 2017.

Despite an expected increase in wheat prices, wheat receipts are expected to decline $500 million (5.8%) from 2016 due to an anticipated decline in wheat quantities sold.

Lower soybean receipts of $3.2 billion (down 7.6%) in 2017 reflect a decline in quantity sold that more than offsets higher soybean prices.

Production expenses

Price changes (the price effect) from 2016 to 2017 for crops and animals/animal products are expected to account for a $2.6 billion increase in commodity cash receipts — the combined effect of a $7.2 billion increase in animal/animal product receipts and a $4.6 billion decline in crop receipts due solely to annual price changes.

“The quantity effect is over twice as large and is expected to increase cash receipts by $5.4 billion in 2017: $5.0 billion from additional quantities sold of animal/animal products and ($400 million) from additional quantities of crops sold,” ERS said.

After reaching record highs exceeding $390 billion in 2014, farm sector production expenses (including operator dwellings) declined by more than $40 billion the next two years. Following a total of $350 billion in 2016, production expenses for 2017 are projected to be higher at $356 billion. Continued projected declines in expenses for inputs typically produced on farms — including feed and livestock/poultry — will be more than offset by forecasted increases in fuel, labor and interest expenses.

Livestock and poultry purchases are expected to increase for the first time since 2014.

ERS also is forecasting a double-digit increase (13.8%) in spending on fuels and oils, which accounts for less than 5% of cash expenses. If realized, this would reverse the recent trend of lower fuel expenses over the last two years. ERS said this forecast is driven, in part, by the U.S. Energy Information Agency's forecast for higher diesel prices (by more than 30 cents/gal., on average) in 2017.

Interest expenses (including operator dwellings) are expected to increase 12.3% in 2017, driven by higher projected debt levels and rising interest rates on new and variable-interest rate debt.


Opioid crisis hitting farmers

Stuart Ritchie/iStock/Thinkstock prescription pills spilling on an American flag

The opioid crisis has struck farm and ranch families much harder than the rest of rural America, a Morning Consult survey shows.

While just under half of rural Americans say they have been directly affected by opioid abuse, 74% of farmers and farm workers say they have. Three in four farmers say it would be easy for someone in their community to access opioids illegally, and just under half of rural adults – 46% – say the same.

The poll, sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and the National Farmers Union (NFU), is a first step in the groups’ collaboration on this issue.

“We’ve known for some time that opioid addiction is a serious problem in farm country, but numbers like these are heartbreaking,” AFBF president Zippy Duvall said. “Opioids have been too easy to come by and too easy to become addicted to. That’s why we are urging everyone we know to talk to their friends, family, co-workers – anyone at all they know or suspect needs help. And because opioid addition is a disease, it’s up to all of us to help people who suffer from it and help them find the treatment they need. Government cannot and will not fix this on its own. Rural communities are strong. The strengths of our towns can overcome this crisis.”

“The opioid crisis is not just some talking point or abstract issue; it is an enormous challenge for both rural and urban America, and we, as a country, need to come to grips with it,” NFU president Roger Johnson said. “These responses demonstrate the reach of the unrelenting and deadly crisis that is gripping farm families across the country. Farm and rural communities currently face major challenges in the fight against addiction, like access to services, treatment and support. Time and time again, farmers and ranchers have come together to help their families and their neighbors through challenging situations. That same resolve and compassion will help us break the grips of opioid addiction in rural America.”

Half of farmers and farm workers (50%) say addiction to opioids is a disease rather than a lack of willpower. Rural adults overwhelmingly (75%) recognize that opioid abuse can begin accidentally with the use of what are deemed safe painkillers, or opioids.

The survey found that three in four farmers (77%), as well as those who work in agriculture generally (76%), say it would be easy for someone in their community to access a large amount of prescription opioids or painkillers without a prescription.

Rural adults are largely unaware (31%) that rural communities are affected the most by the opioid crisis. They also believe opioid abuse is a major problem in urban communities more so than in rural communities by a 10-point margin (57% versus 47%).

One in three rural adults (34%) say it would be easy to access treatment for addiction to prescription drugs or heroin in their local community, but less than half (38%) are confident that they could seek care that is either effective, covered by insurance, convenient or affordable.

One in three rural adults (31%) say there is a great deal of stigma associated with opioid abuse in their local community, and 32% say the stigma of abuse and addiction contributes a great deal to the opioid crisis.

“There is a stigma of people being ashamed to go seek out help, and we want to tell them that we understand that this is a sickness, and we want them to find help to help their families through it,” Duvall said. “So, we’re trying to bring awareness to the availability of finding help for people that need it.”

The survey found that a majority of rural Americans believe that increasing public education regarding resources (68%) and reducing the shame or stigma surrounding opioid addiction (57%) are effective means for solving the opioid crisis.

Integrated strategies power new future for poultry production

A new "future of farming" for commercial poultry production is taking shape as veterinarians, nutritionists and industry experts increasingly combine forces to support operations with enhanced integrated strategies for tackling a raft of new sustainability demands and diversified market opportunities, according to an announcement from Poultry Partners in Canada.

“There’s no doubt we have entered an important period of evolution for commercial poultry production that involves much greater complexity to optimize production and align with the expectations of the marketplace,” said veterinarian Dr. Tom Inglis of Poultry Health Services, which is part of Poultry Partners. “The question is, are we up to the challenge? I believe we are, but the old ways will not do. We need to evolve.”

At the farm level, it starts with better teamwork and integrated strategies across different areas of expertise, Inglis said, adding, “We can’t work or think in silos. We need a new level of integration to succeed.”

Poultry Partners has been among those leading the charge toward enhanced integrated approaches through its unique company model that involves cross-disciplinary teamwork and strategies. Poultry Partners offers animal health, nutrition, on-farm management and business development services. It was started as a combined effort between Poultry Health Services, which provides veterinary and health management services, and Nutrition Partners, which offers nutrition options and formulations.

“When we look at many of the big-picture trends that are transforming the industry — for example, the need to reduce reliance on antimicrobials, to enhance animal welfare, to reduce our environmental footprint or to meet the various requirements of new branded retailer programs — they require farms to have a very well integrated, multidisciplinary approach in place to be successful,” Nutrition Partners president Darryl Lewis explained. “Every operation is different and requires a custom approach to reach its full potential. Using an integrated model helps ensure that approach is optimized to deliver the best results for the operation, for the animals and for the marketplace.”

Poultry Partners has seen a sharp spike in business growth across Canada in recent months as its integration-focused model gains traction in the wake of key developments. Examples include new rules restricting antimicrobial use, heightened expectations for animal welfare, rising emphasis on disease prevention versus treatment and a dynamic influx of options and requirements related to new branded programs introduced by major processors and retail brands, the announcement said.

“The world of poultry production is evolving rapidly and the farm gate is ground zero; it’s the place where all the new demands and expectations for poultry production converge,” said Theunis Wessels, Poultry Partners sales and marketing manager. “Today’s operations have to shoulder a much longer list of responsibilities than they did in the past. It’s simply the new normal. Today, we also have much better knowledge, tools and resources. With improved integration across the key areas important to production, we have much better opportunity to ensure every poultry operation can reach its full potential.”

The drive toward improved antimicrobial use strategies is a leading example. Operations looking to comply with new rules restricting antimicrobial use, to reduce reliance on antimicrobials or to transition toward or maintain an antibiotic-free (ABF) system all improve their opportunity for success if their system integrates knowledge and options spanning a number of important areas, such as animal health, nutrition, animal welfare, biosecurity, feed sourcing and more, Poultry Partners said.

In addition to in-house expertise, the Poultry Partners model includes a broad network of collaboration. For example, the company partners with Country Junction Feeds, which was among the first feed mills to achieve ionophore-free, ABF status, ensuring that all feed sourced from its operations is verified to meet the strict requirements of ABF production and related retailer programs.

With headquarters in Airdrie, Alb., and broad networks, the Poultry Health Services component of Poultry Partners recently expanded its office base into Ontario via partnership with South West Ontario Veterinary Services located in Stratford. Poultry Health Services and Poultry Partners clients are supported from the new location.

“In our veterinary work, to better service the industry in today’s environment, there has been a real shift in emphasis from ‘diagnose and treat’ to prevention and surveillance,” Inglis said. “That mindset extends to the Poultry Partners model. It’s about not only integrated health management but really full-spectrum, integrated management involving all key facets of production. The emphasis is on being proactive, aligned and efficient and capturing synergies to minimize risk and take our client operations to new levels of performance, competitiveness and sustainability.”

Poultry Partners is a collaborative effort among veterinarians, nutritionists and industry experts that is designed to support the success of poultry operations through custom programs and services tailored to individual needs.

Timing key in keeping organic matter in wet soils

Credit: Steven Hall Iowa State wet soils
Periodically wet soils, such as farm fields that flood for a few days or weeks at a time, may not retain organic matter as well as once believed, according to new research.

When it comes to keeping organic matter contained in wet soils, timing is everything, at least according to a new study led by an Iowa State University ecologist.

The findings, published recently in the peer-reviewed academic journal Nature Communications, show that periodically flooded soils may actually lose organic matter at accelerated rates, said Steven Hall, an assistant professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology at Iowa State and corresponding author of the study.

The findings contradict the widely held view that soils with high water content necessarily accumulate organic matter better than dry soils, which could have implications for agricultural and wetlands conservation practices, Hall said.

Keeping organic matter -- the remains left behind after crops and other plants die or are harvested -- in the soil leads to two important benefits. First, optimal levels of organic matter in the soil improve fertility, Hall said. The second benefit concerns carbon sequestration. If the carbon that makes up much of the organic matter remains stored in the soil, then it doesn’t get into the atmosphere, where it can contribute to climate change.

Hall said wet soil cuts off oxygen to many of the microorganisms that break down organic matter, leading to slower decomposition and better retention in the soil. That has led to the belief that wet soils do a better job of keeping organic matter in place.

However, Hall’s findings showed that the absence of oxygen in wet soils gives rise to some bacteria that respire iron, which break down the minerals that protect a significant portion of organic matter from decomposition. These bacteria then have free reign to decompose the organic matter and release carbon into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gasses carbon dioxide and methane.

The study found that timing plays a key role in how well wet soils retain organic matter. While soils with consistently high moisture content do retain organic matter over the long term, soils may actually lose organic matter during shorter spans of flooding. The findings have implications for agricultural fields that are poorly drained or flood for a few weeks of the year before drying out, Hall said.

The study also shows that wetlands, which are thought of as a useful tool for conservation and carbon sequestration, may require consistent flooding to realize environmental benefits from organic matter accumulation.

“We found that periodically wet soils don’t necessarily protect organic matter from decomposition and may lead to losses, at least over a time scale of weeks to months,” he said.

The study drew on research conducted in an Iowa State laboratory. The researchers took soil samples from a central Iowa corn field and subjected the sample to various conditions before conducting chemical analyses.

Hall said future research should be wider in scope and should include field experiments as well as laboratory-based work. He said he wants to test how various drainage techniques influence organic matter loss as well as pinpoint the length of time required for wet soil to realize environmental benefits.

EPA releases 2018 RFS levels

Jim Parkin iStock ethanol plant in corn fields
BETTER DAYS AHEAD FOR ETHANOL: Outlook improving for biofuels sector after plagued by refinery exemptions, trade wars, then COVID shutdowns.

On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency released the final renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2018 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The total renewable fuel volume is set at 19.29 billion gal., which includes 15 billion gal. for conventional biofuels. The advanced biofuel target is set for 4.29 billion gal., including 288 million gal. of cellulosic biofuels.

The 2019 biodiesel amount is set at 2.1 billion gal.

EPA's on-time announcement upholds the statutory targets for conventional biofuels but also falls short of biofuels' supporters suggested blending levels for cellulosic biofuels and biodiesel.

Since the July proposal was released, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has relentlessly called for growth in the volumes of advanced biofuels and biomass-based diesel.

EPA announced requirements of 4.29 billion gal. of advanced biofuels for 2018 and 2.1 billion gal. of biomass-based diesel for 2019. The July proposal recommended only 4.24 billion gal. of advanced biofuels and 2.1 billion gal. of biomass-based diesel — a reduction from and flat with last year's standards, respectively.

“Many people are saying the RFS numbers released today, while disappointing, were expected,” Iowa Renewable Fuels Assn. executive director Monte Shaw stated. “I disagree. Based on the 2018 biodiesel level finalized a year ago, biodiesel producers had every right to expect a 100 million gal. increase for 2018, but the EPA failed to raise the advanced biofuels level by an equal amount, resulting in only a 33 million gal. potential increase for biodiesel in 2018 — a cut of 67 million gal. from what was signaled a year ago.”

EPA has admitted that biodiesel demand is ultimately driven by the advanced RFS level, since it is biodiesel that fills that category. So, despite the specific biomass-based diesel level increasing 100 million gal. from 2017 to 2018 — a level finalized a year ago under the Obama Administration — the effective opportunity for biodiesel growth in 2018 is only 33 million gal.

“Virtually every ethanol plant in Iowa produces distillers corn oil that is used to produce biodiesel,” Shaw noted. “Ethanol plants had every right to expect a growing market for biodiesel, but today's rule cuts the expectation for 2018 and signals no growth for 2019. And with roughly a dozen Iowa ethanol plants poised to produce cellulosic ethanol from corn kernel fiber, they had every right to expect an increase in the cellulosic level, not a 7% cut.”

“EPA Administrator (Scott) Pruitt has disappointed the biodiesel industry for failing to respond to our repeated calls for growth. These flat volumes will harm Americans across several job-creating sectors — be they farmers, grease collectors, crushers, biodiesel producers or truckers — as well as consumers,” NBB chief operating officer Doug Whitehead said.

NBB noted that the biodiesel industry has consistently exceeded EPA's standards, despite the agency underestimating the volumes each year. “These volumes are important for setting a baseline — and our industry will again surpass these low expectations — but the failure to increase volumes will inhibit continued growth and investments,” NBB said.

Encouraging increased cellulosic levels was also disappointing. POET — the largest ethanol producer, which has a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa — said the RVO levels failed to realize the potential of cellulose and spur continued economic growth.

“Unfortunately, this final rule fails to recognize the enormous opportunity before us to harness our nation's vast cellulosic resources for higher-performing and lower-cost fuels. POET remains committed to seeing the U.S. lead the world in cellulosic biofuel production,” POET chief executive officer Jeff Broin said.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) said the lack of increase in biodiesel levels and the cut in cellulosic requirements was “disappointing,” adding that “increases in the volume requirements are justified and would be good public policy.”

Grassley noted, “While I hoped for higher levels, they aren't unexpected and are, unfortunately, in line with EPA's original proposal. I'm glad that EPA backed off a later proposal, which would have represented an abandonment of President (Donald) Trump's stated commitment to biofuels and the integrity of the RFS.”

The National Corn Growers Assn. (NCGA) said it is pleased to see EPA meet the Administration's commitment to keep the RFS on track when it comes to conventional ethanol. NCGA said EPA has not only hit the mark with the 15 billion gal. implied target but has also improved on the proposed rule by correctly growing the total 2018 volume from the 2017 level, as intended in the RFS.

“This year's corn crop is bigger than anyone anticipated, resulting in the largest carryover supply in 30 years. Farmers want to rely on the marketplace for their income, and ethanol has been critical in our effort to increase profitable demand for U.S. corn,” NCGA president Kevin Skunes said.

The National Chicken Council (NCC) criticized the RVO levels, noting that the currently mandated volume for 2017 is also 15 billion gal. With only weeks left in 2017, the Energy Information Agency (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy is forecasting the total domestic use of ethanol for the year to be just 14.4 billion gal.

“Corn ethanol, of all blends, has saturated the domestic market, and the industry, protected by the RFS, just continues to produce ethanol at a pace faster than consumption can grow,” NCC noted in comments submitted to EPA in August.

EIA's November forecast pegs ethanol production this year at approximately 15.8 billion gal. The RFS adopted by Congress in 2007 caps conventional ethanol at 15 billion gal.

“EPA just keeps trying to pump more ethanol into a fuel market that doesn't have room,” NCC president Mike Brown said. “Over the past decade, the RFS has created an incredibly volatile corn market, to the detriment of all corn users and producers, too."

Names in the News: December 2017

Names in the News

NUTRIAD INC. USA, Hampshire, Ill. — Brian Sheley has been appointed North Atlantic sales manager.


UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA, Athens, Ga. — Francis Fluharty has joined the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences as head of the department of animal and dairy science. Fluharty was previously with The Ohio State University.


BECK AG INC., Wayne, Neb. — Srikanth "Sonny" Dasari has joined the company as intelligence solutions architect. Dasari will be responsible for leading the technical implementation of a new data management software system, leading SQL development to enable full implementation of the market intelligence competency area and providing measurable and scalable analytic solutions to meet client needs. He was previously with AgData.

Melinda Oberly has joined the company as account partner. Oberly will be responsible for supporting the Go-to-Market Solutions teams and managing client relationships. She was previously with the National Association of Farm Broadcasting.


NOVOZYMES A/S, Bagsvaerd, Denmark — Prisca Havranek-Kosicek has been appointed chief financial officer, effective Feb. 1, 2018. Havranek-Kosicek was previously with Kuoni Group.


AGCO CORP., Duluth, Ga. — Kelli Cook has been named manager, public relations, North America. Cook will be responsible for developing and implementing strategic public relations and publicity programs to support brand and product marketing efforts for North America. She was previously with Sikorsky.


AGRI-KING INC., Fulton, Ill. — Dr. Louisa Koch has joined the company as ruminant nutritionist. Koch will be responsible for nutritional consultation, technical support and program development.


BIMEDA, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. — David Cunningham has been appointed chief commercial officer for North America, effective Jan. 1, 2018. Cunningham will focus on the provision of strategic leadership to the U.S. and Canadian business operations. He was previously with Axxiom Consulting.


COBB-VANTRESS INC., Siloam Springs, Ark. — Jim Jones has joined the company to provide technical support for customers in the mid-South region of the U.S. Jones will be responsible for the territory that includes southern Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri and Kentucky. He was previously with Keith Smith Co.


FAST GENETICS, Ames, Iowa — Matt Romoser has joined the company as technical service specialist. Romoser will provide technical support, coordinate research projects and act as a liaison to the company's U.S. multipliers.


HUBBARD, Quintin, France — Yann Thoueille has been appointed regional technical director for the Asian region. Thoueille was most recently global quality director.


CARGILL, Brookville, Ohio — Tom Taylor has been named managing director of the U.S. premix organization, Provimi. Taylor most recently led the U.S. dairy business of Cargill Animal Nutrition.


HENDRIX GENETICS, Boxmeer, Netherlands — Luc Claessens will retire from his position as chief financial officer, effective March 31, 2018.

Mariette Ferrari will be promoted to chief financial officer, effective April 1, 2018. Ferrari is currently serving as director ERP.


AGCO CORP., Duluth, Ga. — Kelli Cook has been named manager, public relations, North America. Cook will be responsible for developing and implementing strategic public relations and publicity programs to support brand and product marketing efforts for North America. She was previously with Sikorsky.


AMERICAN FEED INDUSTRY ASSN., Arlington, Va. — Leah Wilkinson will become vice president of public policy and education for the legislative and regulatory department, starting in 2019. Wilkinson is currently vice president of legislative, regulatory and state affairs.


PINNACLE OPERATING CORP., Loveland, Colo. — Mark Pedro has been named executive vice president and chief financial officer, effective Jan. 1, 2018. Pedro will be responsible for leading financial operations as well as providing overall strategic direction. He was previously with Sonepar, North America.


KENT NUTRITION GROUP, Muscatine, Iowa — Dr. Brandon Koch has joined the company's nutrition department as beef nutritionist.


NUTRIENT TECHNOLOGIES, Dinuba, Cal. — Greg Johnson has been named chief executive officer, in addition to his current role as president of Fine Americas Inc., which is also owned by De Sangosse Group. Johnson will work with each management team to continue growing existing markets while expanding the development and integration of De Sangosse nutritional and bio-stimulant technologies for both companies throughout North and South America.


PELICAN PRODUCTS INC., Torrance, Cal. — Rachael Fisher has been appointed director of worldwide logistics and warehousing. Fisher will develop and manage all strategic and tactical aspects of worldwide logistics operations and support services for customers of all business divisions, including improving the efficiency of inbound and outbound transportation and 3PL services while improving customer service levels. She was previously with Neovia Logistics.


SOUTH DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY, Brookings, S.D. — John Killefer has been named the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council endowed dean of the College of Agriculture & Biological Sciences. Killefer was previously with Oregon State University.


NATIONAL BIODIESEL BOARD, Jefferson City, Mo. — Kurt Kovarik has joined the board as vice president of federal affairs, effective Jan. 8, 2018. Kovarik was previously senior adviser and legislative director for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa).


TONISITY INC., St. Joseph, Mo. — Katlyn Kahler has joined the company as regional services representative. Kahler will work with producers and veterinary clinics.

Heather Rossi has joined the company as regional services representative. Rossi will work with producers and veterinary clinics.

Codie Swope has joined the company as regional services representative. Swope will work with producers and veterinary clinics.

Scott Westra has joined the company as regional services representative. Westra will work with producers and veterinary clinics.


ADVANCED BIONUTRITION CORP., Columbia, Md. — Frank DeGennaro has been named chief operating officer. DeGennaro was previously with DuPont Co. and Perdue Agri-Business.


NATIONAL SORGHUM PRODUCERS, Lubbock, Texas — Delanie Crist has joined the organization as communication coordinator. Crist will provide a broad range of public relations and marketing communications support and will serve as associate editor for Sorghum Grower magazine.


NEOGEN CORP., Lansing, Mich. — Ed Bradley intends to retire as vice president of the Food Safety division. Bradley has been with the company for 23 years ago, heading food safety activities for the past 17 years.


AMERICAN COOLAIR CORP., Jacksonville, Fla. — Nicole Adler has been named director of human resources and safety. Adler will manage the human resources department and will oversee safety training, implement safety programs and conduct inspections to ensure compliance.


LAND O'LAKES INC., Arden Hills, Minn. — Beth Ford has been promoted to chief operating officer, Land O'Lakes businesses, effective Jan. 1, 2018. Ford will have overall responsibility for the WinField United business and profit-and-loss responsibility for both the Purina Animal Nutrition and the Land O'Lakes Dairy Foods businesses while retaining her previous responsibilities for system-wide supply chain, operations and information technology, leading the development of the e-commerce platform. She was most recently head of the food and feed businesses,

Brad Oelmann has been promoted to chief operating officer, Land O'Lakes services, effective Jan. 1, 2018. Oelmann will bring together all services the cooperative offers its members. In addition to his current responsibilities for member services and business development services, he will add overall responsibility for Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN, Crop Nutrients, FLM Harvest and government relations. He was most recently executive vice president, member relations, business development services.


TYSON FOODS INC., Springdale, Ark. — Amy Tu has been named executive vice president and general counsel, effective Dec. 11. Tu was previously with The Boeing Co.


FEVERTAGS LLC, Amarillo, Texas — Jordan Furnish has joined the company as operational and technical manager. Furnish will manage the distribution cycle, oversee quality control and educate veterinarians and others within the cattle industry about the product.


IMMUCELL, Portland, Maine — Ellen Cushing has joined the company as the Midwest regional sales and marketing manager. Cushing will serve animal health distributors, veterinarians, calf raisers, dairy farmers and cow/calf operators in the Midwest, covering the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. She was previously with Elanco Animal Health.


PAULSEN, Sioux Falls, S.D. — Tyler Meints has joined the staff as account coordinator. Meints will assist with day-to-day coordination on key accounts.


ZINPRO CORP., Eden Prairie, Minn. — Dr. Timur Akmaliev has joined the company's subsidiary in Russia as country manager for Russia and other republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Akmaliev will manage all sales and marketing activities for Russia and CIS republics based from the sales office in Moscow, Russia.

New online tool launched to better safeguard animal genetic resources

The U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched a new database Nov. 29 that will help countries better monitor, survey and effectively manage their animal genetic resources, allowing for early warning of the threat of extinction.

The Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS) is the most complete source of global information on animal genetic diversity to date, FAO said.

The biodiversity of around 40 animal species that have been domesticated for use in agriculture and food production is vital to food security and sustainable rural development, FAO said. Many locally adapted breeds, some of which are threatened with extinction, have characteristics that make them resilient to climatic stress, diseases and parasites. Over the years, they have adapted to their environments characterized by harsh conditions.

The revamped version of DAD-IS includes new indicators to monitor the risk of extinction of breeds indicating those that are at risk and need urgent intervention, FAO noted.

The system boasts a new user-friendly interface, provides faster access to required information through a set of filters and, for the first time, includes tools to monitor the progress towards achieving the relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The database is a result of three decades of collecting national data from 182 countries. Currently, it contains data on almost 9,000 breeds of livestock and poultry, including breed characteristics, information on distribution and demographics and more than 4,000 images, FAO said.

DAD-IS is an essential tool for planners, decision-makers and scientists to analyze trends, make informed decisions and forecasts, support the development and implementation of international agreements, including the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources, as well as national policies and strategies for the management of animal genetic resources.

Bridging the information gap

FAO estimates that more than 25% of the world's local farm animal breeds are currently at risk of extinction. The examples include the Inyambo cattle in Rwanda, the H'mong pig in Vietnam, the Criollo Uruguayo sheep in Uruguay or the Limiá cattle in Spain.

"DAD-IS is a very powerful tool to inform policy-makers on potential risks, but a system is only as good as its content," said Roswitha Baumung, FAO animal production officer. "There is still a big data gap. For almost two-thirds of the world's livestock and avian breeds, no information has been made available to monitor their extinction risk.

"There are many reasons for this. Some countries may have not collected the relevant data, while others may have not nominated a national coordinator for the management of animal genetic resources who is responsible for entering those data into DAD-IS. We would like to use this momentum to urge countries to provide information on farmed animals using the new tool we are launching today. This data is crucial to safeguard livestock diversity and contributes to feeding the growing world's population in the future," she added.

General Mills deepens investment in soil health with donation

soil wheat

General Mills continues to invest in soil health practices on U.S. farmland, announcing this week a new contribution of $735,000 to the National Wheat Foundation (NWF) that, together with the Soil Health Partnership (SHP), will advance widespread adoption and implementation.

The funds, equally distributed over the next three years, will be used to conduct soil health research on wheat farms and educational outreach to more than 125,000 wheat farmers across the northern and southern Plains. This latest contribution brings General Mills’ recent financial commitments to nearly $3 million for promoting the expanded adoption of soil health practices.

“We know that providing farmers with the research and tools to increase their yields while improving the quality of their soil is a vital step in ensuring agricultural lands are sustainable for generations to come,” said John Church, chief supply chain officer for General Mills. “If we intend to see widespread adoption of these practices, we have to demonstrate both environmental and economic benefits over the long term.”

NWF will use the established network of farms enrolled in SHP to increase grower participation in the partnership and share data and sustainability metrics for wheat production. The outreach will be conducted over the course of three years, encompassing three growing seasons.

SHP is a data-driven program working to quantify the benefits of practices that support soil health from an economic as well as environmental standpoint. Those practices include reduced tillage, growing cover crops in winter and advanced nutrient management. Benefits include improved crop yield, enhanced water quality, increased drought resilience, better flood resistance and decreased greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our project started in the Corn Belt, but soil is a national resource that we need to protect and enhance everywhere farmers grow crops,” SHP director Nick Goeser said. “Soil health is the next frontier in American agriculture, and we’re eager to invite more wheat farmers in more states to join us, expanding our efforts and generating results that will help other farmers see the benefits.”

As part of this agreement, General Mills has partnered with SHP and NWF to provide on-farm mentoring for the farm operators. SHP farmers, their agronomists and SHP field managers will train new and existing farm staff in advanced nutrient management and tillage methods.

“Wheat growers recognize the importance of being good stewards of the land, because healthy land and soil means better crops,” NWF chairman and North Carolina wheat grower Phil McLain said. “Through this grant, we will highlight how wheat farmers integrate good conservation and sustainability practices into their farms and the benefits to their operations and the value chain. The foundation is excited to work with two like-minded organizations in such a unique project that can lead to scientifically sound data on farming practices for growers while ensuring a quality product for consumers.”

LIVESTOCK MARKETS: Rising meat production bringing increased competition

Suto Nobert Hemera/Thinkstock Global grass map
Global map with grass texture

Animal protein production is expanding around the world, increasing competition between protein species for the share of consumer spending and also between exporters. This, according to the latest RaboResearch "Animal Protein Outlook for 2018," is creating many areas of opportunity for both producers and processors.

“Rabobank expects animal protein production to increase in all regions, with total production growth once again surpassing the 10-year average,” said Justin Sherrard, global strategist of animal protein at Rabobank. “This strong production increase is mainly being driven by Brazil, China and the U.S.”

Looking at production across species, the outlook shows both beef and pork as strong contributors to the global expansion. In 2018, global beef production is expected to expand for a third consecutive year, and global pork production is expected to see another year of significant expansion.

Poultry production is also expected to grow but will be down slightly from 2017 levels, Rabobank noted.

In seafood, aquaculture continues to drive the sector's supply growth.

“Sustainable growth in the seafood industry solely depends on aquaculture, although we expect the wild catch industry to recover after El Niño recedes in 2017,” the report explained. The salmon market continues to recover, fish meal prices will stabilize and the shrimp industry is likely to continue growing, Rabobank added.

The Rabobank trade scorecard for 2018 shows that many countries are looking to increase exports, which will be a major part of the increased competition expected in 2018, Sherrard said.

While specific trade outcomes will also reflect growing demand, access issues and policy decisions, Rabobank said it expects trade to represent an important area of both opportunity and uncertainty over the coming year.

Uncertainty in 2018 will come from the heavy overlay of politics in trade policy, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiation, the U.K.'s Brexit and the U.S.-China trade relationship. Biosecurity issues such as avian influenza, African swine fever and EHP (a fungal infection in shrimp) also appear susceptible to political involvement, the bank added.

“Trade should be the top-of-mind issue for global animal protein as we head into a new year, and enhancing competitiveness is going to be critical for success,” Rabobank said.

Consolidation, retail landscape, alternative proteins, innovation

Looking beyond markets and trade, Rabobank sees four other issues that will dominate the headlines for animal protein in 2018: increasing industry consolidation, an evolving retail landscape, alternative proteins and technology.

In regard to the evolving retail landscape, Rabobank said there will be more channels, more product options and more velocity due to the blurring line between retail channels.

“This will bring new areas of opportunity, such as online fresh food sales in China, and generally will bring opportunities to strong and agile animal protein supply chains,” the bank said.

Alternative proteins, Rabobank noted, will grow further from their small base and will continue to capture consumer interest in innovative food. At the same time, the animal protein production chain, especially aquaculture, will focus on alternative proteins as an innovative feed ingredient.

When it comes to innovation, the report said technology — data-driven technology in particular — is starting to deliver value along the animal supply chain — for instance, by increased supply chain (cost) management.

“Two important drivers behind the increase of technology are reducing the environmental footprint and addressing social concerns,” Rabobank said.

Regional outlooks

Rabobank also provided a glimpse into where things are headed around the globe in 2018.

For North America, the bank said meat production will continue to grow. “Ongoing production expansion across the species increases the dependence on trade, yet access to trade markets will be an area of uncertainty during 2018,” the report said.

Brazil will also see an increase in meat production. In fact, the bank said both Brazil and Argentina are set to increase beef production by 5% and 4%, respectively, with Brazil also expanding poultry and pork production.

In the European Union, Rabobank said exports will be key in a challenging market, reporting: “Access to export markets is increasingly important for processors, as production rises, while social issues remain top of mind for domestic consumers.”

Rabobank said beef and lamb production in Australia and New Zealand will remain steady as improved seasonal conditions support Australian producer demand for cattle amid softer export markets. New Zealand beef exporters, on the other hand, are reliant on continued demand growth in export markets, the report explained.

According to Rabobank, production growth in Southeast Asia will decelerate. In particular, poultry production in the region is tapering off in response to oversupply, the report noted.

Imports will be needed to continue to meet beef demand, with price being the main focus in trade decision-making.

Rabobank’s outlook for China calls for an increase in its pork supply, while poultry is expected to stay flat.

Market recap

Live cattle futures were mixed this week. February contracts closed higher Monday at $126.050/cwt. but closed lower Thursday at $124.975/cwt.

January feeder cattle futures were mostly higher this week. Nearby contracts finished higher Monday and Wednesday at $154.45/cwt. and $155.575/cwt., respectively, before falling to a lower close on Thursday at $154.175.

The Choice beef cutout closed lower at $206.64/cwt., while the Select beef cutout closed lower at $184.21/cwt.

Lean hog futures started the week higher but couldn’t sustain the gains as the week progressed. February contracts climbed to a higher close Tuesday at $71.525/cwt. before falling Wednesday and into Thursday’s lower close of $69.775.

Pork cutout values were mostly lower. The wholesale pork cutout closed lower at $83.40/cwt. Loins were also lower at $71.94/cwt., while hams were higher at $66.15/cwt. Bellies closed lower at $142.79/cwt. but were still up from $138.71 the prior week.

Hogs delivered to the western Corn Belt were higher, closing Thursday at $58.47/cwt.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported the Eastern Region whole broiler/fryer weighted average price on Nov. 24 at 86.35 cents/lb.

According to USDA, egg prices were steady, with a cautiously steady undertone. Offerings and demand were light to moderate. Demand was light to good, but mostly moderate.

Large eggs delivered to the Northeast were higher at $1.77-1.81 cents/doz. Prices in the Southeast and Midwest were also higher at $1.87-1.90/doz. and $1.73-1.76/doz., respectively. Large eggs delivered to California were higher at $2.35/doz.

For turkeys, USDA said the market was steady to weak. Offerings were very light to moderate, while demand was light to, in some instances, moderate. Prices for hens and toms fell to 75-87 cents/lb.

Weekly Export Sales: Grains struggle to keep pace

Corn, soybean and wheat export sales failed to feast around the Thanksgiving holiday. All three crops posted lackluster results for the week ending Nov. 23. 

Corn export sales totaled 23.6 million bushels. That’s sharply lower than 42.6 million bushels from the week prior and 54% lower than the four-week average. Trade estimates had come in at 37.4 million bushels. The weekly rate needed to reach USDA’s forecast is now 26.5 million bushels.

Corn export shipments were a little higher, at 25.6 million bushels. Mexico was the No. 1 destination for the week, with 10.6 million bushels. Other top destinations included Japan (4.5 million bushels), Peru (4.4 million bushels), Colombia (2.8 million bushels) and Costa Rica (1.1 million bushels).

With 34.7 million bushels in export sales, soybeans were able to get a small lift from the week prior (31.9 million bushels), but couldn’t quite match trade estimates of 38.6 million bushels and were 25% lower than the four-week average. Still, the weekly rate needed to reach USDA’s forecast softened to 24.7 million bushels. 

Export shipments for soybeans were much more robust, at 80.9 million bushels. China accounted for the bulk of that volume, with 63.1 million bushels. Other top destinations included the Netherlands (3.1 million bushels), Thailand (3.0 million bushels), Vietnam (2.6 million bushels) and Mexico (2.2 million bushels).

Wheat export sales were down 8% from a week ago and 59% lower than the four-week average, with 6.8 million bushels in old crop sales and 100,000 bushels in new crop sales. That’s slightly behind last week’s total of 7.9 million bushels and moderately lower than trade estimates of 12.9 million bushels. The weekly rate needed to hit USDA’s forecast has now reached 14.1 million bushels.

Export shipments for wheat totaled 12.5 million bushels – 78% higher than a week ago and 16% above the four-week average. Primary destinations included the Philippines (3.5 million bushels), Japan (2.7 million bushels), Colombia (1.6 million bushels), Vietnam (1.5 million bushels), and Nigeria (1.3 million bushels).

Sorghum export sales hit a marketing year high, with 12.9 million bushels – 2% higher than the week prior and 26% over the four-week average. The volume was split between China (10.3 million bushels) and unknown destinations (2.6 million bushels). Export shipments also hit a marketing year high, with the majority going to China and small amounts also headed to Japan and Mexico. 

Cotton posted net export sales of 276,000 bales, which was 23% lower than a week ago and 14% below the four-week average.